Air Force aerial layer networking concept to enhance warfighter connectivity |
by Master Sgt. Amaani Lyle
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs
3/24/2011 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- By 2024, the Air Force's fleet of aircraft, space and surface systems will contribute to and use various aerial layer networking functions to support joint capability areas, officials said here March 23.
Following the publication of the October 2009 Joint Aerial Layer Network Initial Capabilities Document, which first defined the concept, Air Force officials developed a vision and flight plan for aerial layer networking to more efficiently integrate space and surface networks with an augmented aerial layer.
"JALN is perhaps one of the best examples of all the services working closely together, and always at the forefront is how we can save and do this more efficiently in the context of the joint fight," said Lt. Col. Todd Schug, the air staff chief of the airborne networking branch.
Specific to the Air Force, aerial layer networking, or the integration and application of processes, procedures, and policies that provide the framework for data exchange, can be an effective force multiplier whether in-garrison or downrange, he said.
"This three-tiered, integrated network will help to increase global connectivity for Airmen, even in remote locations," he said. "The goal is to extend space and surface networks to provide the warfighter real-time, rich and relevant communications on demand."
The push for the JALN comes from the joint force commander's need for mission-persistent communications, said Col. Rob Troisi, the chief of command and control, or C2 interoperability and technological innovation at the Air Force C2 integration center.
"JALN enables leader-centric C2 and battle space awareness, especially in challenged or degraded communications environments," Troisi said. "Most importantly, it will allow warfighters to work together in ways that are not currently possible."
In line with JALN goals, Schug explained how ALN enables data exchange capabilities to help maintain information superiority in any joint operational area.
"ALN affects the Soldier on the ground, the pilot in flight, or the satellite operator," Schug said. "Think of a warfighter fighting in the hills of Afghanistan getting mission critical data over ALN that tells him or her the enemy is just on the other side of his hill."
Schug said ALN will enable the warfighter to connect, reconnect, disconnect, collaborate seamlessly and build coalitions in the sky in real time.
He added it will connect Airmen with joint and coalition forces while optimizing new and existing battlefield capabilities.
"Aerial layer networking will enable end-to-end, full-spectrum information superiority, assured system and network availability, and secured information delivery," he said.
Similarly, the Air Force's battlefield airborne communications node, or BACN, a contributing component of ALN, has made significant progress in enhancing communication across the aerial layer, Schug added.
The Air Force Vision for Aerial Layer Networking, signed by Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, former deputy chief of staff for operations, plans and requirements; and Lt. Gen. William T. Lord, the chief of warfighting integration and chief information officer, indicates Air Force aircraft, space, and surface systems will contribute and use aerial layer networking functions in multirole ways by 2024.
"Not every aerial layer network entity will contain all networking capabilities, but the aggregate of these entities will work together with the Air Force portion of the global information grid and joint partners to enable end-to-end full-spectrum information superiority, assured system and network availability, and secured information delivery," the vision stated.
The flight plan is currently in the final stages of Air Force review and is projected to be released in spring 2011.