William W. Weiss is vice president of Tactical Networks at General Dynamics C4 Systems in Taunton, Mass. He is responsible for execution of Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) and related Future Force communications and networking programs and for related internal technology development. Weiss is a 21-year veteran of General Dynamics C4 Systems, assuming his current responsibilities after achievements in multiple communications and information technology management and engineering positions. He was awarded the highest company honor for technical achievement in 1994. Weiss earned his Bachelor of Science degree in systems engineering and a Master of Science degree in computer systems engineering from Boston University.
Q: What is the Warfighter Information Network- Tactical (WIN-T) program and what is General Dynamics role on it?
A: WIN-T is the Army’s tactical enterprise network, providing voice and data communications services to commanders and command posts both at-the-halt and on-the-move, from theater level, down through battalion. General Dynamics is the prime contractor and overall system integrator, and our principal partners are Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, Harris Corp, L3, and Cisco.
Q: The Joint Network Node is the precursor to WIN-T. How has that system performed on the battlefield?
A: The JNN is performing exceptionally well in support of Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. It provides a significant upgrade in capability across the entire spectrum of operations providing greater bandwidth across the force and increased access to DISN services.
Q: What are the key enabling technologies behind WIN-T?
A: WIN-T is primarily focused on the network automation and broadband networked satellite and radio communications necessary to keep highly mobile and dispersed forces connected. Elements of the WIN-T network will be embedded in commanders’ and other vehicles that are not “Signal Owned”-therefore an unprecedented level of automation is needed to network the Force. The key enabling technologies are:
- radio and satellite communications waveforms designed for broadband, networked, on the move operation;
- satellite antennas with automatic positioners to stay fixed on satellite while transiting rugged terrain;
- beam-forming directional radio antennas designed to keep terrestrial and ground to air links closed during mobile operations;
- integrated network planning and monitoring capabilities, with network simulation capabilities, intended to assist network managers in managing highly mobile networks;
- network-automation software agents, distributed to all network elements, designed to keep mobile networks glued together, with minimal need for manual intervention from network technicians; and
- network routing protocols optimized for mobile networks.
Q: What have been the biggest technological successes to this stage of the program?
A: We have made significant progress in all key technology areas, and successfully completed, on schedule, the initial formal WIN-T Development Test at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., in November 2005. We demonstrated initial versions of all critical mobile communications and network operations technologies.
Q: What technological challenges still remain to be overcome before it is deployed?
A: We have some technical milestones yet to achieve. They are:
- complete final versions of the network operations software;
- complete the radio and SATCOM terminal hardware design on the form factors required by FCS;
- complete development of SCA-programmable versions of the WIN-T radio and satellite communications waveforms; and
- complete antenna designs targeted for FCS platforms.
Q: When will it be deployed?
A: Plans/schedules are being worked by the Army; this question should be best answered by the Army.
Q: There have been rumors on Capital Hill that the Department of Defense is curtailing funding for development programs such as WIN-T. Will this affect or delay deployment of WIN-T?
A: This is a question for the Government.
Q: There was one rumor that said Senate and House committees were looking for more justification to transition from JNN to WIN-T. Have you heard about this or do you have any comment on it?
William W. Weiss, Vice President of Tactical Networks General Dynamics C4 Systems, Taunton Ma.