HomeNewsArticle Display

AERONet prototype could provide combat insight to allies

A Beechcraft AT-6B Wolverine experimental aircraft flies over White Sands Missile Range, N.M., July 31, 2017. Aircraft like the Wolverine and Embraer A-29 Super Tocano provide close-air support to U.S. allies and partners, and can also be outfitted with commercial off-the-shelf command and control units like the Airborne Extensible Relay Over-Horizon Network, or AERONet, increasing their combat effectiveness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ethan D. Wagner)

A Beechcraft AT-6B Wolverine experimental aircraft flies over White Sands Missile Range, N.M., July 31, 2017. Aircraft like the AT-6B and Embraer A-29 Super Tocano provide close-air support to U.S. allies and partners and can also be outfitted with commercial off-the-shelf command and control units like the Airborne Extensible Relay Over-Horizon Network, or AERONet, increasing their combat effectiveness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ethan D. Wagner)

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass.(AFNS) --

A tiny team at Hanscom Air Force Base is developing a prototype combat system capable of providing video, voice, chat and command and control to partner nations for under a half-million dollars.

The Airborne Extensible Relay Over-Horizon Network, or AERONet, digitally links friendly forces, providing them with their own location, the location of other friendly forces and real-time enemy movement updates. It will be showcased to partner nations at the Bold Quest exercise in Finland this month. AERONet is a version of systems already used by law enforcement to patrol borders and track and combat smugglers. First responders use similar systems while fighting wildfires in the mountain states.

The system was conceived by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein, refined by Air Force Research Lab and is being brought to market by the Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence and Networks Program, or C3I&N, executive office at Hanscom AFB. The Tactical Data Links Lab at Hanscom AFB helped prototype a system, funded and built with the goal of providing turnkey combat networks to partner nations that do not have arms export agreements for this type of data link information.

“Bold Quest is the first time we will be able to show our target partner nation audience what AERONet can do for them,” said Maj. Scott Frye, the AERONet program manager with the C3I&N Quick Reaction Capability Branch. He is helping AERONet transition from an AFRL concept to reality. “We already have interest from several countries, so we think there’s a large demand out there for a system that creates a combat network and makes intelligence gathering and close-air support more effective.”

Goldfein wanted a system that would provide off-the-shelf technology to countries that struggle with violent extremists but don’t have access to the most expensive and classified command and control suites. AERONet provides commercial-level security and is not subject to stringent export controls placed on advanced U.S military technology. Airmen designed the airborne node to be versatile, integrating into fixed wing, rotary and unmanned aircraft platforms from multiple partner nations.

The system has three nodes, each with distinct combat capabilities: The airborne node is a radio and computer hybrid that users can attach to nearly any aircraft. It receives and relays voice and chat and pipes full motion video to and from any other node in the system. Dismounted troops such as joint tactical attack controllers and tactical air control parties use the ground node, which looks like a tablet and satellite-radio hybrid. It can run on Android technology and provides operators with airborne command and control capability from smartphones or tablets.

The final node, a reach-back command and control tactical operations center, provides decision makers with access to all the information flowing through AERONet from their troops at the tactical edge. C3I&N’s Aerial Networks Division will demonstrate the entire system during exercise Bold Quest in Finland, which is tailored to experiment with interoperability among NATO and non-NATO nations.

“Imagine you’re a country, or a military, with a problem combating violent extremists who hide in remote regions,” said Lt. Col. Jung Ha, the C3I&N’s Quick Reaction Capability Branch director. “The advantage you have is your training and your technology. AERONet implementation can provide non-Link 16-enabled U.S. and partner nations’ warfighters the requisite data to enhance battlespace intelligence superiority by providing near-real-time situational awareness, thereby increasing their own force’s combat lethality while reducing the probability of fratricide incidents.”

Frye and Ha also predict humanitarian relief uses for the system, making it attractive to nations frequently struck by man-made and natural disasters.

To date, C3I&N has spent less than $1 million developing AERONet and estimates partner nations can access and learn to use the combat network for less than $300,000. More complex systems with more nodes and capabilities increase the cost, though many nations may have an existing network that AERONet can be used to soup-up. Ranges can vary, depending on the system setup, from dozens of miles to scores of miles. The team is working toward an over-the-horizon version, but say it’s not ready for distribution yet.

The AERONet team demonstrated the system to Goldfein and Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, and learned valuable lessons during light-attack demonstrations held one year ago. Hanscom AFB’s AERONet team hopes to see the system proliferate to countries who will take the opportunity to partner and train with the U.S., and at the same time gain access to valuable combat capability at an affordable price in line with CSAF and National Defense Strategy priorities.

Engage

Twitter
.@LRAFB recently received a brand new C-130J Super Hercules, marking the last C-130J delivery for the 19th Airlift… https://t.co/aebjDLaLiT
Twitter
An F-16 Fighting Falcon flies above the Gulf of Mexico en route to South Carolina. The jet is a compact, highly man… https://t.co/YZhs930LMG
Twitter
.@HiAirGuard Amn & Soldiers were airlifted from neighboring islands & back to Oahu, after assisting state authoriti… https://t.co/kuHakmkG4e
Twitter
Airmen from the 26th Operational Weather Squadron @TeamBarksdale complete their mission of developing and communica… https://t.co/3YTE1qItnE
Twitter
Staff Sgt. Gentry Shelby, @127Wing, provides aircraft maintenance to the A-10 Thunderbolt II amid the #COVID19 pand… https://t.co/TpmjrW356G
Twitter
An F-16 Fighting Falcon an F-35A Lightning II from @EielsonAirForce & an F-35A from @HAFB, fly over Fairbanks, Alas… https://t.co/YjbJd55EhV
Twitter
RT @USAFHealth: WELCOME HOME HEROES! Medical personnel from the 315th Aerospace Medicine Squadron return home after a month supporting the…
Twitter
Twitter
Twitter
The 786th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal team trained using an F6 Alpha EOD robot to disarm a… https://t.co/6zwlp7MQOD
Twitter
In this episode of Inside AFIMSC, - Maj Gen Wilcox holds the center’s first virtual Commander’s Call, - Alpha Warr… https://t.co/BAmtJQX9Ua
Twitter
RT @HQAirUniversity: In our forth video of a 5-part series, AU's Director of Strategic Leadership Communication, discusses his 4 C’s of lea…
Twitter
RT @NASA: Docking confirmed! @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug officially docked to the @Space_Station at 10:16am ET: https://t.co/hCM4UvbwjR
Twitter
RT @NASA_TDRS: Dragon has docked! Crewed Dragon, with @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug on board, are connected to @Space_Station, with @NASA’s…
Twitter
Rise and shine! A KC-46 Pegasus at Altus AFB as the 97th Air Mobility Wing prepares to conduct a severe weather e… https://t.co/QBT5nuXMqx
Twitter
RT @AETCommand: An amazing story of resilience & grit sure to inspire you! Airman Shannon Busch triumphed over incredible odds to graduate…
Twitter
.@HQAirUniversity's Holm Center Chaplain's thoughts on distance. #ReadyAF #COVID19 #Resilient https://t.co/svDFNqIqNX
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,231,188
Follow Us