The US Air Force paid $75.5 million for the 25,000 sq. miles of wireless network to protect its nuclear silos, share data

In short: It is a sad fact that we live in troubling times, as shown by the Doomsday Clock which has moved to 90 seconds to midnight, the closest we have come to total destruction. As such, the US Air Force has stepped up efforts to protect nuclear missile silos, and recently awarded a $75.5 million contract to New York-based company Persistent Systems for the largest wireless ad-hoc world network.

Persistent Systems will launch its Infrastructure-based Regional Operation Network (IRON) for The Air Force Global Strike Command, creating a secure unified network for the 400 operational Minuteman III intercontinental-range nuclear missile silos located across the US , wrote Interesting Engineering.

Serving the US Air Force’s Regional Operating Picture (ROP) program, IRON will cover a 25,000-square-mile geographic area, making it the largest wireless ad-hoc network in the world. It connects MANET edge networks, which allow airmen to share voice, video, chat, sensor, and GPS data, into a unified Battlespace Awareness Network for increased situational awareness.

About 700 IRON systems will be installed in this large area. They use an easily deployable Integrated MANET Antenna System on fixed towers and poles, connecting 75 operation centers and more than 1,000 Security Force vehicles.

“US military bases can be spread over tens of thousands of square miles, and as it stands today, there is no dynamic, high-bandwidth way to track personnel at headquarters, and reliably stay in contact, the security personnel patrolling this vast area,” said. Adrien Robenhymer, Persistent’s VP of Business Development. “When staff have problems in the field, they don’t have effective support from an operations center.”

With the ROP in place, military personnel at a missile field are able to maintain constant communication through towers to an Operations Center (OC), while OC personnel are able to follow the movements and know the exact location of security forces on a digital map. The ROP will initially be deployed at Malmstrom, Minot, and FE Warren Air Force Bases.

Beyond Situational awareness, IRON facilitates a fully digital battlespace that links multiple weapon systems and programs into a unified network. “This provides the foundation upon which a true Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) system can be built,” said Robenhymer.

IRON systems have already been deployed in missile fields and will continue to be deployed for the next 36 months.

In other recent military news, Shipbuilder Austal USA delivered a ship to the US Navy last month that can operate for up to 30 days at sea without human intervention, another step in moving the armed forces towards more automation.

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