Defense Advanced Research Projects AgencyTagged Content List

Systems of Systems

Related to new capabilities based on synergy among multiple diverse systems

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Multinational forces, U.S. government agencies and U.S. troops operating together in forward-deployed locations generally have problems communicating—and not just due to language differences. Technical incompatibility between communications systems can hinder information sharing and timely command and control decisions. DARPA’s Mobile Ad hoc Interoperability Network Gateway (MAINGATE) program is helping overcome this technology barrier. The program is nearing completion and plans to transfer the latest version of the system to Army warfighters still engaged in Afghanistan, but who are now focused more on Force Protection as U.S. forces draw down. The MAINGATE system is providing insights into tactical networking of the future, where systems will need more adaptability and capability.
Computing performance has steadily increased against the trajectory set by Moore’s Law, and networking performance has accelerated at a similar rate. Despite these connected evolutions in network and server technology however, the network stack, starting with the network interface card (NIC) – or the hardware that bridges the network/server boundary – has not kept pace. Today, network interface hardware is hampering data ingest from the network to processing hardware. Additional factors, such as limitations in server memory technologies, memory copying, poor application design, and competition for shared resources, has resulted in network subsystems that are creating a bottleneck within the network stack and are throttling application throughput.
The continued growth in unmanned, sensor, and networked devices is expected to drive the need for larger, more capable and more diverse communications systems. Among other enhancements, these systems must improve jam-resistance and low probability of detection to keep pace with adversaries’ growing electronic sophistication and must adapt to fast-changing operational environments. By contrast, today’s military communications architectures are static and inflexible.