- Joint Tactical Information Distribution System
The Joint Tactical Information Distribution System (JTIDS) is an
L bandTDMA network radio system used by the United States armed forcesand their allies to support data communications needs, principally in the air and missile defense community. It provides high-jam-resistance, high-speed, crypto-secure computer-to-computer connectivity in support of every type of military platform from Air Force fighters to Navy submarines. The full development of JTIDS commenced in 1981 when a contract was placed with Singer-Kearfott (later GEC-Marconi Electronic Systems, now BAE Systems E&IS). Fielding proceeded slowly throughout the late 1980s and early 1990's with rapid expansion (following 9/11) in preparation for Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Development is now carried out by Data Link Solutions, a joint BAE/ Rockwell Collinscompany.
JTIDS is one of the family of radio equipment implementing what is called
Link 16. Link 16, a highly-survivable radio communications design to meet the most stringent requirements of modern combat, provides reliable Situational Awareness (SA) for fast-moving forces. Link 16 equipment has proven, in detailed field demonstrations as well as in the AWACSand JSTARSdeployment in Desert Storm, the capability of basic Link 16 to exchange user data at 115 kbit/s, error-correction-coded. (Compare this to typical tactical systems at 16 kbit/s, which also have to accommodate overheads in excess of 50% to supply the same transmission reliability.)
While principally a data network, Link 16 radios can provide high quality voice channels and navigation services as accurate as any in the inventory. Every Link 16 user can identify itself to other similarly equipped platforms at ranges well beyond what Mark XII IFF systems can provide. Additionally, Link 16-equipped platforms capable of identification through other means (such as radar and
TENCAP Blue Force Tracking) can pass that "indirect" identification data as part of its SA exchange. The capabilities of Link 16 are best represented by the JTIDS or its follow-on Multi-functional Information Distribution MIDSterminals. The TADIL-Jmessage format forms the basis for the mandates in the DoD Tactical Data Link Management Plan.
There are benefits to the full-scale implementation of the two key elements of Link-16: (1) the message "catalog" and (2) the specific radio waveform (i.e., frequency hopped, Lx-band CPSM, spread-spectrum and Reed-Solomon coding, omni-directional broadcast). Link 16 terminals implement the "NI" node-to-node protocols as well as one or more of the ICD-compliant user interfaces.
John B. Kennedy, while a young engineer at ITT Avionics in Nutley, New Jersey, first envisioned the idea of this "spread spectrum" technology. His breakthrough idea was to break up transmissions into discrete packets of data and send them over multiple frequencies to be reassembled at the receiving end. This would allow much more information to be sent and received. At the time senders and receivers shared one frequency necessitating the "over and out" and "roger" type syntax so familiar to military communication at the time. Mr. Kennedy planned a more familiar type of communication between jets in a dog fight, for instance, that would not only be telephone-like, the ability to talk over each other, but also allow simultaneous sharing of friend or foe and location/speed data. Mr. Kennedy was disappointed when the realities of military contracting required ITT to share this information with their west coast competitor Rockwell International and then compete against them for the final contract. Rockwell won this competition and JTIDS, John's baby, was forever linked to their name.
JTIDS is also used by the UK armed forces and is fitted to the majority of the UKs tornado F3 fleet.
Air Defense Control Center
Combat Information Center
Naval Tactical Data System
Mission Control Center
* [http://www.rockwellcollins.com/ecat/gs/JTIDS.html Rockwell Collins JTIDS page]
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