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BAE to Field-Test Future Wireless Tactical Networks

BURLINGTON, Mass. --- BAE Systems will field-test a suite of next-generation wireless tactical network protocols designed to improve communications within and among forward-deployed military units. The Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency (DARPA) selected the company to develop and evaluate new “protocol stacks” — sets of network protocol layers that work together — for military mobile ad-hoc networks, or MANETs.

Under the first phase of the DARPA Control-Based Mobile Ad-Hoc Network program, a BAE Systems-led team developed a new protocol that improves network performance by a factor of five over current practices. The $5 million award for the program’s second phase will further develop and field-test these protocols.

“This technology can allow forward-deployed mobile units to stay networked to each other and to command posts, despite connectivity variations due to terrain and other factors,” said Dr. Nils R. Sandell, Jr., vice president of advanced information technologies for BAE Systems. “Field trials are the next step in transitioning this technology to our men and women in combat.”

In a MANET, each network node operates not only as an end-system, but also as a router capable of forwarding traffic and forming a network free of any fixed infrastructure. Traditional networking approaches have adapted poorly to rapid in-the field network changes, achieving only a fraction of the potential performance. The MANET’s flexibility makes it an attractive networking option for tactical operations.

BAE Systems will work with its program teammates, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and CenGen Inc., to develop the next-generation protocols and demonstrate their utility in support of special operations applications. Spring 2009 field demonstrations are planned at Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia.

BAE Systems is the premier global defense and aerospace company delivering a full range of products and services for air, land and naval forces, as well as advanced electronics, information technology solutions and customer support services. With 97,500 employees worldwide, BAE Systems' sales exceeded £15.7 billion (US $31.4 billion) in 2007.

BAE Systems to Field-Test Next-Generation Wireless Tactical Networks