Achieving Interoperability: BACN, BFTN and the ACC-188

May 25, 2021

Communications truly are mission-critical within the defense arena. However, lack of interoperability across devices, platforms and communication channels presents one of the biggest threats to the reliable transmission of critical information. Military leaders, the U.S. government and companies like Sealevel consciously create programs and solutions to achieve interoperability amongst our armed forces.

BACN: Battlefield Airborne Communications Node

The Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) was created in 2005 to improve communications between aircraft operating in a common battle area.

Over time BACN has evolved and increased in flexibility and now allows air, maritime and ground forces to operate with increased situational awareness. At its core, BACN is a set of airborne radios and terminals that have a common data link downlink capability to pass information. The BACN platform allows for consistent and reliable access to images, video, voice and data communications. As such it has been described as “Wi-Fi in the sky.”

BACN maintains interoperability through being

  • Radio agnostic – BACN supports a wide variety of tactical radio and communication protocols
  • Platform agnostic – the BACN system can be implemented in various aircraft
  • Untethered – BACN can move freely within the battlespace

BFTN: Battle Force Tactical Network

Similarly, the Battle Force Tactical Network (BFTN) offers network connectivity for ships, submarines and aircraft in support of maritime defense under the US Navy and joint forces. The system was originally defined by the following components:

  • Connectivity via High Frequency (HF) and Ultra High Frequency (UHF) radio spectrum
  • Commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware
  • Government-Furnished Equipment (GFE) software
  • Internet Protocol (IP) for communication

The BFTN system now offers line-of-sight and beyond-line of sight secure wireless network connectivity for maritime battlespaces.

ACC-188 USB Synchronous Radio Adapter

The ACC-188 USB Synchronous Radio Adapter was created in partnership with the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) in response to the need to achieve interoperability across various tactical radios utilized by the U.S. military. This non-proprietary interface utilizes DISA’s PDA-184 data communications software. Together the ACC-188 and PDA-184 enable computers (primarily mobile) to connect to tactical radios and transmit and receive IP data including email, text messages, GPS information and images.

ACC-188 USB Synchronous Serial Radio Adapter for ANDVT MINTERN KY-99A

In addition to achieving interoperability, Sealevel delivers a solution that provides fast throughput and requires low power, all in a small, rugged mechanical design.