Military Works On Faster, All-Digital Targeting System
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 24, 2003 - The U.S. military is developing an
advanced communications capability for tactical fighters that will
tightly connect the sensors and cockpits of many aircraft.
The 2-year-old Tactical Targeting Network Technologies program
links tactical jet fighters' sophisticated sensors and avionics
with real-time, digital communications, explained Peter Highnam,
a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency employee who works
in the agency's information exploitation office.
The envisioned result, Highnam said, is Information Age effectiveness
in the complete process of detection, positive identification,
targeting, meeting rules of engagement, strike and confirmed destruction
while minimizing collateral damage.
Highnam said TTNT is being developed to provide the networked
infrastructure needed for what he called "the tremendous transformational
potential of network-centric warfare."
He identified one example, the rapid and precise location of
enemy ground-to- air defense systems. It has been demonstrated
that this task is performed "orders of magnitude faster" and more
accurately when the sensors on several aircraft work directly together,
Today's military uses a legacy system called Link 16, Highnam
explained, but TTNT -- an all-digital approach using a broad set
of technologies only recently developed -- is far more advanced
and can be inexpensively incorporated aboard jet fighters.
Using a cell phone analogy, Highnam compared Link 16 to older
models that do a good job providing basic voice and low-rate data
communications. TTNT, Highnam said, offers myriad communications
conduits, just as today's advanced phones offer capabilities such
as voice, e-mail, photos and Internet capability. And all TTNT
communications, he pointed out, will be secure.
"Take that (cell phone) notion, bring it across to the fast-pace
world of tactical aircraft, (and that) is what we're about," Highnam
noted, citing TTNT's interoperability, high speed, low latency
and ease of use.
"Machine to machine is the only way to get the job done," he