This week, soldiers of the Army’s 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division in Fort Lewis, Wash., and 3rd Infantry Division in Fort Stewart, Ga., completed a Limited User Test (LUT) of the warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) Increment 2 on-the-move broadband networking capability, for the first time offering those Internet-like capabilities to military units dispersed across wide geographic areas.

A General Dynamics [GD]-led team supported the testing, during which soldiers from the two units planned and executed multiple missions, sharing command and control information from the command post down to the company level using WIN-T.

"This is the largest and most complex user test for WIN-T and demonstrates just how critical a weapon the network is in the Army’s arsenal because it is what soldiers will depend on to communicate on the battlefield," said WIN-T Project Manager Col. William Hoppe, program executive office for Command, Control, Communication-Tactical for the U.S. Army Communications and Electronics Command at Fort Monmouth, N.J.

The military exercises, which ran March 18-30, were the first time that actual soldiers used the WIN-T network across multiple geographic locations.

During the LUT, soldiers carried out realistic mission scenarios that tested WIN-T’s ability to support continuous command, control, communications and intelligence functions used by warfighters and commanders during an operation.

If the tests are deemed successful by the Army’s Evaluation Center, completion of the LUT paves the way for the Army to approve low-rate production of the system. Such a decision could come this summer (Defense Daily, March 10).

With final approval, fielding of the new equipment to the first unit would begin in late 2010.

The WIN-T program consists of four increments. Increment 1 is fielded to more than half of the Army worldwide, providing the Army’s enterprise network for deployed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Beyond Increment 2, which enables initial mobile networking for divisions, brigade combat teams, battalions and companies, Increment 3 provides increased network reliability and capacity, smaller and more tightly integrated communications and networking gear, and supports the Future Combat System. Increment 4, the last of the WIN-T developmental program elements, is a pending contract award.

General Dynamics C4 Systems is the prime systems integrator for WIN-T and is teamed with Lockheed Martin [LMT], BAE Systems, Harris Corp. [HRS], L-3 Communications [LLL], Juniper Networks and CISCO Systems (CSCO).