Novel prototype design boosts command post intelligence processing

Mark Miltenberger, right, C4ISR Prototype Integration Facility (or PIF) project lead for Intelligence Processing Center-2, or IPC-2, and Ben Udzilla, C4ISR PIF engineer, inspect the IPC-2’s network cables. The IPC-2 will add a third enclave to enhance the shelter’s intelligence collection capabilities.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — The Army is enhancing a mobile intelligence station’s top secret enclave through a collaboration between intelligence program managers, researchers and the organic industrial base.

The Distributed Common Ground System-Army, or DCGS-A, and the Army’s Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, or CERDEC, have teamed to produce the latest version of the DCGS-A Intelligence Processing Center, or IPC-2, which will add a second top secret network for enhanced intelligence processing, fusion and reporting.

“The IPC-2 is the backbone of the intelligence processing capabilities,” said Lee Wyman, DCGS-A operations specialist and project lead for IPC-2. “It is located inside a hard shelter, attached to a high-mobility, multipurpose wheeled vehicle and backed up to the BCT [brigade combat team] command post to function as the main processing center.”

Employing a wheeled capability saves valuable setup time and space inside the command post.

“The IPC-2 aligns intelligence processing with the Army’s expeditionary command post goals,” said Mary Sawyer, DCGS-A integrated logistics support manager. “The analysts link their laptops into the server to build robust intelligence products to meet the commander’s information requirements, including map products that show enemy or terrorist activities.”

CERDEC’s Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Prototype Integration Facility, or C4ISR PIF, is providing the engineering design and integration on the next version of IPC-2. The C4ISR PIF provides all-inclusive engineering solutions that result in low-rate initial production prototypes of emerging technologies in response to warfighter needs.

The government-only collaboration between DCGS-A and the C4ISR PIF will extend to the Tobyhanna Army Depot, which will conduct the shelter’s full-rate production.C4ISR Prototype Integration Facility engineers Dan Fitzpatrick, forward, and Garth Grove, rear, reconfigure the Intelligence Processing Center, or IPC-2, access panels to comply with the shelter’s fresh air and weight limitation requirements.

C4ISR Prototype Integration Facility engineers Dan Fitzpatrick, forward, and Garth Grove, rear, reconfigure the Intelligence Processing Center, or IPC-2, access panels to comply with the shelter’s fresh air and weight limitation requirements.

The current IPC-2 version has two networks, the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, or SIPRNet, and the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System, or JWICS. The new version will add the National Security Agency Network, or NSANet, to provide commanders, at the BCT, Division and Corps echelons with mobile servers, Wyman said.

“By providing the NSANet to IPC-2, we are reducing the time and space required to set up separate top secret servers in the command post tents,” Wyman said.

In addition to determining a space-saving configuration for the third server stack, DSGS-A requested the C4ISR PIF team to build and integrate a new Soldier workstation inside the shelter.

“The shelter will feature a one-person station, built to address ergonomic issues associated with Soldiers working in small spaces,” said Thomas Bowers, acting chief for CERDEC’s Prototype Integration and Testing Division.

C4ISR PIF engineers have been addressing multiple challenges that can arise from inserting complex technology into a small space, Bowers said.

“The PIF team listened to us, and came up with a functional workstation design,” Wyman said. “They have also developed creative solutions to address other critical requirements, such as weight and noise-level limits and ensuring the shelter contains appropriate levels of heating, cooling and fresh air for optimal system performance and Soldier safety.”

To help solve the fresh air requirement and address some of the weight issues, the PIF engineers reconfigured the existing power entry point.

“The existing shelter design featured a power entry panel behind the system racks, which required a large gauge cable to be run from the side to the front of the shelter,” said Mark Miltenberger, C4ISR PIF project lead for IPC-2. “By inserting a new power entry panel on the side of the shelter, we were able to convert the old entry into a fresh air vent circulation fan. We will meet the fresh air requirement, and by eliminating the heavy cable, we reduced some of the shelter’s weight.”

Adding an extra enclave required a new approach to the shelter’s temperature controls. Following an extensive heating and cooling and analysis, the C4ISR PIF installed a “smart” Improved Environmental Control Unit, or IECU, that turns on automatically once it senses when, how much and what type of air is required to keep both equipment and Soldiers at the optimal temperature, Miltenberger said.

“Without a proper analysis, the IECUs could have been undersized causing equipment to overheat and prematurely fail,” Miltenberger said. “Now the Soldier will no longer have to guess if enough cooling or heating is being supplied to the equipment, which will help him or her focus on the task at hand instead of environmental conditions.”

Once the C4ISR PIF completes the initial prototype in Fiscal Year 2017, it will assist DCGS-A to transition the full-rate production to TYAD.

“We continue to strengthen our partnership with TYAD to ensure our customers experience a seamless transition from prototype- to full-rate production,” Bowers said. “TYAD is staffed and equipped to produce the C4ISR technologies we create, and we believe that many of our C4ISR government customers will benefit from this government technology transition.”

The new version of IPC-2 will undergo a physicality and weight test in September, bringing it one step closer to providing expeditionary top secret intelligence data to command posts at nearly every echelon.

— — -

The U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to ensure decisive overmatch for unified land operations to empower the Army, the joint warfighter and our nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.

Like what you read? Give U.S. Army RDECOM a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.