Simplified Tactical Data Link Translation

Military organizations around the world rely heavily on tactical data links (TDL) to securely and reliably share mission-critical information among air, ground, and sea platforms. Because different devices use different TDL types for communications, a highly sophisticated TDL gateway is needed to translate information across the various link types. There’s a huge disconnect, however, between historical TDL gateway designs and modern military requirements. As a result, TDL gateways that were designed for the way the military operated years ago have not kept pace with present-day, technologically advanced battlefields.

Legacy TDL gateways are notoriously difficult and time-consuming to set up and configure. They’re also extremely complicated to operate. These legacy gateways were intended to be used at Air Operations Centers by teams of highly experienced experts working in a controlled environment; they were not designed to be used by warfighters who are actively engaged in mission activities at the tactical edge of the battlefield.

Today’s warfighters – digital natives who grew up surrounded by technology – expect ready access to easy-to-use technologies in all aspects of mission activities. If equipment is not fast and easy to set up and operate in the field, there’s a good chance that the warfighters will simply leave it behind when they head out into the field on missions.

TDL gateways must be designed much like an appliance, hiding the complexity of TDLs and data translation to deliver information to the warfighter in a clear and easy-to-understand format. This is the only approach that will ensure TDL gateways can be easily used by warfighters who are not experts in TDLs, communications protocols, or communications equipment. The design must also include an intuitive graphic user interface (GUI) that presents the pertinent mission-specific information in a highly visible and simplified way, similar to the user-friendly apps that warfighters are so familiar with.

Curtiss-Wright’s multi-link tactical datalink gateway and bridging capability is built on two decades of expertise in providing tactical data link communication solutions. The interfaces and standards are accessible and configurable via an intuitive operator interface which clearly indicates connectivity, information flow, and filtering of traffic.  Able to satisfy the interoperability requirements of a broad spectrum of users, TCG HUNTR® (TDL Hub and Network Translator) is an intelligent translation gateway for multiple TDLs including Link 16, VMF, Cursor-on-Target, CESMO, and JREAP.  It was designed from the ground up as an operator-first routing and translation application with a focus on simple, easy-to-understand graphical feedback.  The application assists the operator in quickly and dynamically adding or removing data links, and managing data flow between the links.

The routing graphical user interface (GUI) is designed for touchscreen or keyboard-and-mouse operation with a “green-good-red-bad” operator feedback scheme for rapid identification of terminal/radio operational status, routing errors, or areas in need of attention.  The intelligent filtering provides a powerful tool for controlling data flow in cases where the sending and receiving links have disparities in information capacity, or where operator “information overload” is a concern.

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