Network Management Architecture for the Objective Airborne Network

August 2004
Doug Willard, The MITRE Corporation
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The objective airborne network (AN) will use a heterogeneous set of physical links (RF, Optical/Laser, and SATCOM) to interconnect terrestrial, space and highly mobile airborne platforms. The primary communications resources of the network will be the airborne platforms themselves, which will self-form into a network with a dynamic topology—i.e., a mobile ad hoc network. As a war-fighting asset, the objective AN should provide commanders the capability to ascertain the network's operational health and status—i.e., network situational awareness. Additionally, AN communications resources should be configurable to meet the commanders' operational objectives. These operational requirements are typically satisfied in terrestrial, wire-line networks by network management (NM) and policy-based network management (PBNM) capabilities. However, management of mobile ad hoc networks is an emerging research area facing many challenges: application of the NM Architectures for terrestrial wire-line networks is impractical due to reliance on dedicated, terrestrial-based servers and dependence on static network topologies. This paper identifies management challenges of the AN and outlines an architecture to address these challenges. The proposed architecture is then used to frame the critical research and technological needs the military communications community should address to enable network management of the future AN. This paper was invited for the Airborne Networking session by Kenneth Stranc, Session Organizer.

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