HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah – U.S. Air Force communications experts needed a company to upgrade an adaptable networking system that enables military forces on the move to stay in touch in austere environments. They found their solution from Persistent Systems LLC in New York City.
Officials of the Air Force Sustainment Center (AFSC) at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, have announced a $25 million contract to Persistent Systems to upgrade the Wave Relay Tactical Assault Kit (WaRTAK) using the Persistent Systems Wave Relay Mobile Ad hoc Network (MANET).
The WaRTAK program, which the Air Force launched in 2016, provides Air Force convoys driving close to the front lines of the battlefield with multi-domain communications and situational awareness.
The self-healing adaptable MANET component from Persistent Systems helps infantry warfighters, land vehicles, and helicopters maintain RF communications even when satellite communications (SATCOM) links fail, or land features mask line-of-sight RF communications.
"WaRTAK provides situational awareness with a multi-domain architecture -- a combination of MANET, SATCOM, cellular, and land mobile radio," explains Adrien Robenhymer, VP of business development at Persistent Systems. "As those communications channels become available, it provides communications between the convoy, helicopters, and command authorities. The system ties radio, GPS, cellular, and satellite internet connections into our self-healing Wave Relay MANET.
Persistent Systems has been involved in the WaRTAK tactical networking program for the past four years. The company won a contract in 2016 to provide MANET capability for the system. Now it's time to upgrade the system to increase data throughput, as well as reduce its size, weight, and power consumption (SWaP).
The upgraded system that Persistent will provide over the next four years will increase data throughput from about 20 megabits per second to 120 megabits per second, and reduce the system's More capability, more capacity, and faster speeds than 802.11. From 20 mbits/s to 120 mbit/s, and reduce SWaP by about 60 percent.
Such improvements may help enable the Air Force to incorporate new features like artificial intelligence (AI), automatic roadside bomb detection, and augmented reality for turn-by-turn directions over roadless terrain, Robenhymer says.
"WaRTAK uses our legacy MPU3 and Gen4 equipment," Robenhymer says. "This hardware has been the backbone of the program, operating in extreme conditions and temperatures, but it's time to introduce WaRTAK to the newest generation of gear."
Persistent will provide Android-loaded MPU5 smart networking devices and the Dual Push-to-Talk (PTT) system, which will enable users to talk on two radio talk groups simultaneously and as an intercom system.