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NIWC Atlantic creates compact, removable networking on the move technology for U.S. Marine Corps

Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Atlantic engineers have transformed their signature Networking on the Move (NOTM) technology to be compatible with the Marine Corps’ recently fielded Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV). Steve Ghiringhelli, Naval Information Warfare Systems Command (NAVWAR), reports.

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Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Atlantic engineers mounted their Networking on the Move (NOTM) Size, Weight and Power (SWaP) technology on, from left to right, a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV), an MRAP all-terrain vehicle (M-ATV) and a Humvee for the new variant’s first Full System Assessment (FSA) at the Naval Weapons Station in Charleston, South Carolina, November 2019 (Picture source: Steve Ghiringhelli, Naval Information Warfare Systems Command).

NOTM is an on-the-move SATCOM-based communications hub that can transmit and receive vital information across the battlespace in seconds, allowing infantry troops to fight at high speeds while still maintaining critical command and control (C2) functions.

Currently traversing its second full system assessment (FSA), the NOTM team in NIWC Atlantic’s Land Systems Integration (LSI) division cut the legacy NOTM enclosure’s size in half while also reducing the weight and power of the unit. The new NOTM variant, called the “SWaP” (Size, Weight and Power), fits alongside a large antennae structure and other components on the JLTV that significantly restrict space. “The team replaced hardware, reconfigured layouts and converted most of the components to DC power,” said Aaron Wirges, who served as NIWC Atlantic NOTM project lead during development. “It was quite an undertaking, but the outcome has been extremely rewarding to see.”

Though fashioned and destined for the JLTV, NOTM SWaP will also easily mount on the Humvee and the MRAP all-terrain vehicle.

Pete Ward, LSI division head, said the SWaP variant is modular, scalable and rapidly deployable. “But, maybe most important, it is transferable,” he added. “When a vehicle goes down, the NOTM system will no longer be hard-mounted onto a deadlined piece of equipment.”

NOTM is a Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC) program of record and ongoing collaboration between NIWC Atlantic and NIWC Pacific. It is currently employed on ground, sea and air platforms. The SWaP variant will continue to be extensively evaluated before reaching the fleet.

Essentially a three-vehicle system, NOTM comprises a Point of Presence (PoP) vehicle and two staff vehicles. The PoP acts as a mobile mothership, its large SATCOM dome providing the two staff vehicles on-the-move, over-the-horizon C2 capabilities through multiple radio suites, three external network enclaves and access to full-motion video, global grids, encrypted software and secure internet feeds. “When commanders want to push troops forward, NOTM lets them have ‘eyes on’ while still maintaining connectivity to networks that traditionally sat in tents, ships or aircraft far from the fighting,” said Karl Eimers, a NOTM engineer at NIWC Atlantic.

The LSI division designed the original NOTM back in 2012. It was developed in response to an urgent Marine Corps request by U.S. Central Command to expand the capability to vehicles beyond the MRAP, which had used a mobile C2 system called M2C2 since 2009. Preparations for NOTM SWaP began in 2017 when the NOTM program office at MCSC received funding for the development of a transferrable variant that would fit on the JLTV. The same year, however, the Department of Defense (DOD) released the directive to have all of its networks Windows 10 compliant by the end of 2018, and LSI division engineers became immediately consumed with compliance efforts.

“For many DOD systems, the migration meant simply popping in a Windows 10 disk and updating your computer,” Wirges said. “But because our legacy NOTMs didn’t support the Windows 10 security requirements, it meant gutting boxes, most of them in the field, and replacing about half of the components.”

Last November, the NOTM team successfully completed its first FSA at the Naval Weapons Station in Charleston, putting the SWaP variant through its paces at Poseidon Park to test and validate its functionality through range checks, antenna cosite analysis and verification of survivability. “FSA was a very in-depth, month-long analysis of the system,” said Ryan Longshore, Vehicle Technology Transition team lead and LSI chief engineer. “We drove over 100 miles on all three vehicle platforms. In the end, it was very fruitful and well received by the Marine program office.”

Before being delayed in March due to COVID-19, NIWC Atlantic was supporting a second and more independent FSA of the NOTM SWaP coordinated by Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity at Camp Pendleton, California, said Jonathan Pizarro, the NIWC Atlantic NOTM Project lead engineer who will redeploy to Camp Pendleton once FSA II resumes.

Following a successful FSA II at Camp Pendleton, a physical configuration audit (PCA) will be next on the horizon. PCA is a major milestone entailing a top-to-bottom inventory, assessment and verification of all components validated against exhaustive documentation.

As NOTM’s extensive capabilities continue to gain in popularity among warfighters downrange, Navy leaders say NOTM SWaP will play a critical role in helping Marines effectively conduct distributed maritime operations and other emerging components of naval expeditionary warfare. “The importance of these efforts cannot be overstated,” said NIWC Atlantic Executive Director Peter C. Reddy. “If Marines in a constricted and hotly contested environment lose their vehicle, they have to be able to transfer the NOTM capability onto other ones. That’s why NOTM SWaP will unquestionably be a force-multiplier on the battlefield for many years to come.”

As a part of Naval Information Warfare Systems Command, NIWC Atlantic provides systems engineering and acquisition to deliver information warfare capabilities to the naval, joint and national warfighter through the acquisition, development, integration, production, test, deployment, and sustainment of interoperable command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, cyber and information technology capabilities.

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