Mission-essential, real-time secure voice and data communications are a critical element of the Navy’s command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I) infrastructure; voice communication is the most fundamental element of tactical and operational communications used by warfighters.
Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SPAWARSYSCEN) Atlantic voice systems integrated product team's (IPT) mission is to ensure information superiority through the use of encryption, authentication and access control technologies to protect information traversing Navy voice circuits, whether tactical (radio broadcast) or strategic (telephone).
The IPT is sponsored by the Information Assurance and Cyber Security Program Office (PMW 130), Tactical Networks Program Office (PMW 160) and Shore and Expeditionary Integration Program Office (PMW 790), with its Navy Defense Red Switch Network (DRSN) sub-portfolio sponsored by Navy Cyber Forces and U.S. Air Forces Central Command.
The team's voice engineering laboratory, located in Portsmouth, Va., is the Navy's only dedicated secure voice lab. The state-of-the-art facility is ideally located, only minutes from U.S. Fleet Forces Command, Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station Atlantic, Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. in Newport News, Va. (formerly Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding), and other fleet assets in Hampton Roads.
The voice systems IPT's efforts span a number of interrelated but distinctly different technologies that together represent the continuum of naval voice communications support, encompassing legacy and modernized secure and non-secure voice, as well as selected secure data services over voice networks. The team's initiatives are divided into several major efforts and initiatives meant to enable or support similar core capabilities despite the obstacles inherent in the Navy’s somewhat ad hoc, but rapidly evolving communications infrastructure.
Direct Fleet Support
The voice systems IPT leverages its favorable proximity and specialized resources to provide the means to rapidly resolve fleet voice communications issues. As the Navy's secure voice In-Service Engineering Activity (ISEA) and the voice element of the Automated Digital Network System (ADNS), the team responds to a wide variety of trouble calls, ranging from radio voice broadcasting to Internet Protocol (IP)-based network voice shortfalls.
On-site technical assistance can often be provided within an hour for local issues. Distant troubleshooting efforts often start by leveraging the fully operational lab assets, which in many instances enable virtually instant remote troubleshooting for voice applications and their associated networks, worldwide and at a moment’s notice.
The secure voice team also maintains a cadre of on call, highly qualified Secure Communications Interoperability Protocol-Interworking Function (SCIP-IWF) experts immediately available for global 24/7 service, 365 days a year. SCIP is a multinational standard for secure voice and data communication.
Verify and Validate
Another vital function of the voice systems IPT is its role as the Navy's lead verification and validation activity for secure voice-related engineering changes. The rapid and often simultaneous introduction of updated computer software, new networking technologies, and changes to operations and policies can affect real-time services, such as voice and video teleconferencing, in unexpected ways.
The fully operational voice engineering lab is used to capture and evaluate these changes prior to fielding. The voice systems IPT conducts formal testing to validate the viability of the proposed changes from a voice perspective, verify expected performance and demonstrate that existing communications interoperability is not unduly affected. The test results often form the core of technical summaries that are used to help build consensus and shape informed discussion across the diverse field of naval voice stakeholders.
The voice systems IPT is responsible for ensuring that the Navy's secure voice (current and long-term) interests are protected in the face of rapidly evolving joint technologies. These efforts are especially evident in the Navy's partnership with the U.S. Air Force-led acquisition of modernized radio cryptographic replacement devices necessary to support updated National Security Agency encryption algorithms. VINSON/Advanced Narrowband Digital Voice Terminal (ANDVT) Cryptographic Modernization (VACM) replacement devices are destined to replace aging cryptographic units, including KY-57, KY-58, KY-99A, KY-100 and KYV-5.
As the Navy's VINSON/Advanced Narrowband Digital Voice developmental and engineering agent, the secure voice team is responsible for validation and verification of low rate initial production variant VACM products, including addressing emergent technologies and their viability over various communication transports.
The Navy's secure voice team's active participation puts Navy technical requirements on equal footing with that of the Air Force, and its specialized expertise ensures the appropriate technical validation for Navy-unique requirements, particularly environmental variables, such as salt water, temperature and pressure tolerances, that would otherwise have been overlooked.
The secure voice team continues to be a key member of the multiservice VACM acquisition team, and will be responsible for monitoring vendor technical performance and conducting independent verification and validation testing on preproduction models prior to Navy acceptance.
The majority of the voice systems IPT's recent engineering work was dedicated to ensuring voice capability using the Navy's ADNS for transport. Under the direction of Automated Digital Network System engineering, the voice team supports formal test and evaluation of any ADNS voice-related component of SPAWAR’s enterprise engineering and certification testing, including voice communications interoperability, circuit emulation over IP, and homeport dial tone.
The naval networking infrastructure is under continuous modernization in response to the Defense Information Systems Agency’s (DISA) unified capabilities requirements (UCR 2008). Unified capabilities requirements specify technical standards for telecommunication switching equipment to be connected to the Defense Information Systems Network (DISN); emphasis is on military unique features, e.g., Multilevel Precedence and Preemption (MLPP).
The Automated Digital Network System voice team is meeting DISA's requirements by adapting legacy voice circuits for transport using IP-based technologies to both increase bandwidth efficiency and consolidate naval communication pathways across the ADNS network links.
The ADNS voice team introduced the SCIP-IWF as the technological solution capable of coupling legacy telephony products, such as secure terminal equipment and various shipboard telephone switches, to modernized networks capable of servicing a greater number of concurrent calls with more features and at reduced costs in terms of connectivity overhead requirements. The SCIP-IWF transformed naval operational voice by transparently enabling off-ship secure and nonsecure voice connectivity, supporting global telephony from virtually every vessel in the Navy. The ADNS voice team continues to manage and maintain this critical program and is providing installations and engineering support for the SCIP-IWF's integration into the Naval Undersea Warfare Center’s Common Submarine Radio Room.
Evaluate Emerging Technologies
While ADNS transport is a critical element of voice communications modernization, it is complemented by DISA's unified capability requirements, which provide a series of integrated and complementary technical standards and products necessary to meet future Defense Department communications operational and security requirements. These include a mix of real-time communication services, such as telephony (including IP-based telephony), videoconferencing and real-time chat, which will eventually be integrated with unified messaging, such as integrated voice mail, e-mail, short message service (text communication service component of phone, Web or mobile communication systems), and fax transmission.
The UC requirements also establish communication and resource priorities, provision for access and control, and provide multilevel precedence and preemption capability to assure access for command and control users.
The Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC) is responsible for UC testing to ensure its proper implementation. JITC selected the voice engineering lab as a partnering facility to evaluate a variety of UC voice and data products and services. JITC distributed testing is performed in collaboration with DISA, and the other services, to provide the technical solutions necessary to migrate Defense Switched Network (DSN) services to assured service Voice and Video over IP (VVoIP) unified capabilities. The voice systems IPT is a key element of the JITC distributed test lab group directly supporting DISA's efforts to provide joint service UC interoperability.
The voice systems IPT uses its end-to-end secure communications expertise and sophisticated laboratory to create high-fidelity simulations of Navy and joint communications architectures, allowing evaluation of an array of supporting and interrelated technologies for JITC-approved products testing.
These special voice assets also play a key role in furthering the Navy's interests in rapid technology transfer research and development for a variety of IP-based technologies, such as Assured Services-Service Initiated Protocol (AS-SIP), Voice over Secure IP (VoSIP), and other secure real-time services. This concept is illustrated in Figure 1. The voice engineering lab's continuing efforts ensure the ability of the DISN and DoD service infrastructures to supply prioritized and protected voice, video and data transmissions, including proposed Navy and joint communications architectures.
Defense Red Switch Network
SPAWARSYSCEN Atlantic's voice systems IPT is also the Navy lead for DRSN engineering and technical support. DRSN is a DISA-managed Joint Staff telephony system used as the primary national command authority voice network, providing global secure services to the president, Secretary of Defense, Joint Chiefs of Staff, combatant commanders and selected agencies, with command and control secure voice and voice conferencing capabilities. Figure 2 illustrates the DRSN range of services and customers of the voice engineering lab.
SPAWARSYSCEN Atlantic provides on-site technical support personnel for five Navy shore sites, as well as DRSN installation, and engineering support, testing, and training for DRSN sites and other DoD activities.
The SPAWARSYSCEN Atlantic voice systems IPT provides the Department of the Navy (DON) with capability-driven and sustainable solutions, leading the way to ensure naval compatibility with future DoD unified capabilities and assured services. As the primary point of contact for DON enterprise-wide voice communications, the IPT successfully helped steer Navy voice communication away from legacy (channelized and stovepiped) to more modernized, net-centric solutions.
The IPT's ISEA and sustainment efforts are essential to the Navy's voice systems operators and directly support global operations. Its tireless pursuit of modernized and practical voice solutions have helped the Navy transition from serial-based, legacy telephony systems into modern, IP-based naval voice communication networks, a vital link in the transition process to the Navy and DoD's net-centric Global Information Grid.
The voice systems IPT's expert advocacy continues to provide acquisition managers and Program Executive Officer (PEO) C4I leadership the technical foundation necessary for informed Navy enterprise voice decisions.
Nick Werner is the SPAWARSYSCEN Atlantic voice systems IPT technical writer.