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CHIPS Articles: 5G network slicing technology will transform Army networks

5G network slicing technology will transform Army networks
By Jasmyne Douglas, CCDC C5ISR Center Public Affairs - June 17, 2020
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (June 11, 2020) – The Army will use next-generation cellular network technology to improve the versatility and flexibility of tactical networks and gain an advantage during multi-domain operations.

The Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Command, Control, Communication, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C5ISR) Center – part of Army Futures Command – is studying network slicing, a 5G technology that enables the creation of multiple virtual networks, known as “slices,” over a shared physical network.

Network slicing uses software to orchestrate and customize the capacity, latency, and cybersecurity of each slice to support mission-specific needs.

“This technology will give our Army networks almost instantaneous adaptability,” said Michael Monteleone, the C5ISR Center’s director of Space and Terrestrial Communications. “It is going to be a tremendous upgrade to how we’re currently operating our networks.”

The Army’s current networks consist of many stove-piped transport networks that were developed for specific purposes, Monteleone said. They lack the scale, throughput, speed, mobility and availability needed to connect multiple devices on the battlefield into a seamless network.

“Dominance against near peer threats in future operating environments requires a highly agile and secure network connecting every Soldier, sensor, weapon, device, autonomous platform and manned vehicle,” said Dr. Akber Qureshi, chief engineer for the C5ISR Center’s Tactical Communications Division. “Network slicing will transform the tactical network from a rigid and slow-to-adapt network into a high performance and flexible network that can be configured on-demand.”

The Army will leverage commercial investments in the technologies that enable network slicing: software-defined networking, network function virtualization and network programmability.

As those technologies mature, the C5ISR Center will help to incorporate them in Army science and technology programs and deliver tactical capabilities as early as fiscal year 2023.

“We are addressing military-specific requirements of security, infrastructure mobility and resilience in congested and contested operating conditions,” said Qureshi. “Leveraging commercial 5G efforts and surgically investing in gap technologies will allow for the realization of a more capable, flexible, intelligent and tactical network.”

Ultimately, network slicing will be used to support autonomous vehicles, time-critical sensor to shooter connectivity, heads-up displays, high-resolution video feeds and intelligence data retrieval – all on the same network.

“We have a need and desire to partner with industry to explore what they are doing and how we can use what is normally created for a commercial use and repurpose it for the military,” Monteleone said.

He encourages industry representatives with an interest in supporting the Army’s research to request a Technical Interchange Meeting via the organization’s website at
https://c5isr.ccdc.army.mil/.

For more information, visit:
Army Futures Command
ARCYBER
Army Cyber Center of Excellence
Army Cyber Institute

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – New Mexico Guardsmen check the link for the satellite they had just set up on the roof of the military police headquarters in Vieques, Puerto Rico on Dec. 1, 2017. The C5ISR Center is exploring how network slicing technology can be used to help transform the tactical network from a rigid and slow-to-adapt network into a high performance and flexible network that can be configured on-demand. (Photo Credit: Spc. Samuel Keenan)
Spc. Terry L. Whitner, a signal support systems specialist in the U.S. Army Reserve assigned to the Signal and Communication Office for the 415th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) Brigade, headquarters and headquarters company out of Greenville, South Carolina, sets up RAID storage during a Command Post Exercise on Feb. 8, 2019. The C5ISR Center will use network slicing software to orchestrate and customize the capacity, latency and cybersecurity of each "slice" to support mission-specific needs. (Photo Credit: Sgt. Stephanie Ramirez)
A student assigned to the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, who is in the Special Forces Communications Sergeant course, uses an AV-2125 satellite antenna with an AN/PRC-117G satellite radio during training at the Yarborough Training Complex at Fort Bragg, North Carolina August 29, 2019. A next-generation cellular network technology, network slicing will improve the versatility and flexibility of tactical networks and gain an advantage during multi-domain operations. (Photo Credit: K. Kassens)
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