The Network Integration Evaluation will be the largest operational test in the history of the U.S. Army Operational Test Command, according to command officials.
“In terms of the number of systems being tested and the number of personnel supporting,” said Eloise Lundgren, U.S. Army Operational Test Command public affairs officer, “the (Network Integration Evaluation) is incomparable to any operational test we’ve conducted before.”
The series of Limited User Tests, Lundgren said, will be conducted in June at Fort Bliss. The tests will be followed by a two-week Network Integration Rehearsal.
The Network Integration Evaluation is designed to assess the ability for a host of technologies to work in tandem as part of a larger, integrated, cohesive network, said Col. John Wendel, with Program Executive Office Integration. “The purpose is to seek efficiencies and synergies,” he said. “The idea of combining events forces integration, so what we will do is synchronize the technologies into a singular network brigade formation.”
A cooperative effort between the Army Test and Evaluation Command, Department of the Army, Program Executive Office Integration and the Brigade Modernization Command, the Network Integration Evaluation will be the baseline from which to compare next year’s test, Lundgren said.
“Results of this test will support senior Army leadership in acquisition decisions on whether to produce and buy more systems,” she said.
Systems undergoing Limited User Tests, Wendel said, are:
Joint Tactical Radio System, or JTRS Ground Mobile Radio, a multi-channel, vehicle- mounted software-programmable radio able to transmit voice, video, data and images using high-bandwidth waveforms such as Soldier Radio Waveform and Wideband Networking Waveform.
Joint Tactical Radio System Handheld Manpack Small Form Fit, a multi-channel, soldier-mounted software-programmable radio able to transmit voice, video, data and images using high bandwidth waveforms such as Soldier Radio Waveform and Wideband Networking Waveform.
Joint Capabilities Release, next-generation software for Force Battle Command Brigade and Below, featuring Army-Marine Corps interoperability and advanced mapping tool kits.
Mounted Soldier System combat-vehicle soldier ensemble which integrates advanced gear such as a helmet-mounted display.
SPIDER, remote munitions delivery system.
The Limited User Tests will place the program-of-record technologies into operationally relevant scenarios designed to collect data, answer questions and validate requirements, said Lt. Col. Darby McNulty, Program Executive Office Integration trail boss.
“We spend an enormous amount of resources to coordinate single-program tests at multiple locations each year,” McNulty said, “so from a funding and resource-management perspective, there are certainly some efficiencies with combining these (Limited User Tests).”
“By beginning to conduct exercises that look at an integrated network, the Army intends to lessen the in-field integration burden on our operational units,” said Paul Mehney, Program Executive Office Integration public affairs officer. “This will ensure that the important integration work is done up front, prior to deploying systems to the field.”
The Network Integration Evaluation is the first of four major stepping stones on the road to executing a fully integrated Brigade Combat Team Network Evaluation at the end of 2012, McNulty said.
“This is how network operational testing will be conducted in the future,” Lundgren said.