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Improved SWaP with Tactical Hub for MILSATCOM


by Tony Tran, iDirect Government

Saving rack space is a priority these days, especially for comms-on-the-move (COTM) and comms-on-the-pause (COTP) missions. That’s exactly why we at iDirect Government have created the perfect solution for these missions with size, weight and power (SWaP) specs ideal for mobile and smaller environments. 

We designed the Tactical Hub to provide a smaller alternative to the much larger — and heavier — 20-slot hubs, keeping tactical operations in mind on the engineering front with this new design. Two new Defense Line Cards, the DLC-T and DLC-R, come embedded in the Tactical Hub, and it’s all packaged neatly in a single 2RU (rack unit) rack-mount chassis. This design saves precious space in smaller spaces without sacrificing the quality of your network.

The Tactical Hub is designed to expand beyond how a typical satellite hub is deployed today. Let’s consider an existing 20-slot hub. The chassis itself is 11RU high, 24 inches in depth and weighs 110 pounds—and that’s when it’s empty. A complete hub package requires line cards, servers and switches, which all contribute to the increase in size, weight and power (SWaP) required to support them. With this kind of setup, it is common to find this particular hub configuration installed at a fixed location such as a teleport. To enable a flexible deployment capability, users need a package that functions like a 20-slot hub, but on a much, much smaller scale. This is where iDirect Government’s new Tactical Hub package comes into play. 

As previously mentioned, the Tactical Hub itself is 2RU and comes with an embedded DLC-T and DLC-R. The chassis is less than 15 inches in depth and weighs only 20 pounds. Just on these specifications alone, the Tactical Hub has a huge SWaP advantage over our 20-slot hub.

As a complement to the Tactical Hub, we’ve bundled it with two servers (the NMS and Protocol Processor) and a layer-3 switch. The servers in this bundle are approximately a third of the depth and half of the weight of the typical servers that come with a 20-slot hub. As for the layer-3 switch, this single 1RU appliance combines the functionality of an upstream router, upstream switch and tunnel switch—which all are typically 1RU each. The layer-3 switch alone takes what would normally be 3RU and condenses it down to a single rack unit.

Thanks to its significantly improved SWaP, the Tactical Hub opens up a variety of deployment options beyond the typical setup at a teleport. The Tactical Hub’s reduced footprint makes it a compact and cost-effective solution to either setting up a temporary or full-time satellite hub. 

Consider this scenario: your primary satellite hub goes offline due to a natural or man-made event. You can failover your services to the Tactical Hub that is either in another region or on-site with a trailer or portable system. In another scenario, you can deploy the Tactical Hub in an isolated region using a satellite beam that is outside the reach of your primary teleport. As a result, this increases your options as to which satellite or beam you can use to support the mission. These scenarios are just two examples of the many different ways the Tactical Hub can meet your operational needs. 

Not only does its size provide a major advantage over traditional hub installations, it’s also a cost-effective, compact alternative for Continuity-of-Operations (COOP) scenarios. Mobile command vehicles can be outfitted with the new Tactical Hub, allowing for it to be quickly and easily set up in a disaster zone after a hurricane, earthquake or man-made incidents such as terrorist attacks. Because of its ability to be a redundancy option for other iDirect hub systems, the Tactical Hub is especially useful in these scenarios.

Small networks and lab test environments favor the Tactical Hub. Its size and price point make it ideal for small fixed networks and lab test environments. It doesn’t need as big of a footprint as other hubs, and it can be used in conjunction with existing hubs to create a Star-in-Star architecture.

In short, it’s smaller, weighs less but is just as powerful as a 20-slot hub. Its size makes it ideal for a wide array of missions for military personnel, first responders and disaster recovery personnel. Given that our Tactical Hub comes bundled with needed servers, layer-3 switch and next-generation line cards, no additional components are needed. This keeps transit case sizes to a minimum with less weight. Additionally, it makes it much easier to move from place to place.

As is the case with all of our products, we at iDirectGov have designed the Tactical Hub to be a secure way to transmit messages over the air (OTA). Operating on the latest and most powerful release of Evolution software to date, the embedded DLC-T supports as much as 45 mega-symbols per second (Msps) downstream and provides one- and two-way transmission security (TRANSEC). The DLC-R supports upstream traffic as much as 29 Msps time division multiple access (TDMA) in either single carrier or multi-channel composite mode— the latter delivering almost four times the increase in aggregate throughput compared to our previous line cards. Because it runs on Evolution software, the Tactical Hub also works with the Evolution Series remotes. 

The Tactical Hub features the DLC-T and DLC-R and also includes:

  • Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) 140-2 Level 3, with TRANSEC 
  • Embedded RCM-PPS module
  • Variable temperature-controlled fans
  • Field-replaceable power supply

About the Author:

Tony Tran is the Senior Manager of Product Management at iDirect Government. He brings more than 15 years of experience in both satellite and terrestrial communications. Over the span of his career, he has worked closely with various commercial, government and military organizations to achieve their telecommunications goals while meeting their missions’ requirements—all performed both domestic and abroad. He applies his experience to develop the next leading-edge satellite communications systems with a recognized leader in the satellite industry, iDirect Government. Tony has a Master’s degree in the Management of Secure Information Systems from George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, and enjoys volunteering his time to help and mentor students in school.  Whether it involves special needs children in elementary school or graduate students in college, he is always willing to make the time to help them succeed.