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Battlefield Information Transmission System (BITS)

The Battlefield Information Transmission System (BITS) is a direct outgrowth of the Army Digitization Master Plan (ADMP). The ADMP describes the process that will lead to seamless interoperability across the battlefield, the capability required to transform the Army into a 21st-century force (Force XXI), and provides guidance for developing, testing, and producing digital hardware and software to meet Force XXI requirements. BITS is the umbrella program under which the elements needed to support Force XXI information-transport requirements come together.

BITS Concept

BITS is seen as a next-generation requirement because the future digital load is expected to exceed the combined capacity of the legacy systems (e.g., Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System [SINCGARS], Enhanced Position Location Reporting System [EPLRS], and Mobile Subscriber Equipment [MSE] Tactical Packet Network [TPN]). These three systems, interconnected with Internet Protocol (IP)-compliant routers, comprise the TI. Distribution of digital information among the profusion of devices such as command and control (C2) systems, sensor platforms, and embedded computers will become the dominant activity for information transport. Requirements for imagery and real-time video in addition to voice and data point to the need for multimedia services.

The BITS concept consists of both near-term and far-term paths. The near-term strategy is defined by the ADMP. It calls for solicitations to industry for a Near-Term Digital Radio (NTDR) in Fiscal Year (FY) 95, which will be more capable than EPLRS while costing less. It is expected to be available to support the Division XXI Advanced Warfighting Experiment (AWE) in 1998. The near-term strategy will also include the introduction of other selected products as they are determined to be sufficiently mature. The far-term strategy will be defined by this document.

The requirement for the BITS far-term strategy was originally identified in the ADMP. Development of the strategy was identified as an action for the Directorate of Information Systems for Command, Control, Communications and Computers (DISC4). The U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM) Space & Terrestrial Communications Directorate (S&TCD) was tasked by DISC4 to develop the BITS far-term strategy document. A draft of that document was distributed for comment in March 1995. Based on the initial draft, the Army Digitization Office (ADO) modified the task by calling for a comprehensive plan at the milestone/resource level by FY for contributing programs, which included a description of how the programs tie together and the transition to an acquisition strategy, with dollars and milestones. ADO requested that the strategy: (1) define a BITS program to execute from FYs 95-99, (2) define an acquisition program for BITS in the Program Objective Memorandum (POM) from FY99 to support Force XXI fielding, and (3) identify required resource shortfalls in both the experimental phase and the acquisition phase in the FY97 POM.

BITS Evolution

The Army will develop and integrate a series of technologies that will support the Force XXI digitization initiatives and lead to a complete definition of the Force XXI BITS. Programs sponsoring these efforts include the CECOM Digital Battlefield Communications (DBC) ATD, the Joint Service/ARPA SPEAKEASY program, the Army NTDR acquisition, the TRADOC ACT II program, the ARPA/CECOM Commercial Communications Technology Test Bed (C2T2)/Commercial Communications Technology Laboratory (C2TL) programs, and the PM SIPs.

BITS Supporting Programs

The approach used in developing, demonstrating, and fielding BITS capabilities consists of the three phases shown in Figure 3-1 (BITS Strategic Framework). The R&D, or "Blue," phase is the responsibility of CECOM and other R&D activities and culminates in technology insertion into an AWE, BLWE, Joint Warfighting Interoperability Demonstration (JWID), or other field exercise. The leave-behind, or "Yellow," phase consists of providing additional equipment to operational units, for a period of up to two years, for the purpose of product evaluation and requirements definition. During the acquisition, or "Green," phase, the products developed and refined during the first two phases are handed of to the PEO/PM for acquisition and fielding.

BITS Development

Despite the emphasis on the use of commercial products and the acceptance of the need for acquisition reform, the development of BITS will be a requirements-based process. BITS requirements will be developed through an iterative process of laboratory and user evaluation.

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