Although the technology was confined to the military arena until now, it is gaining traction in the commercial domain. The technology currently demands renewed attention owing to recent developments in radio communications and advancements in wireless networking. The proliferation of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) over the last decade is one of the most significant drivers for the increased deployment of MANETs in the battlefield.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (technicalinsights.frost.com), MANETs in Military Communications - Strategic Insights and the Road Ahead, finds that the MANET paradigm is facilitated by a number of radio communications and networking technologies, which are evolving at a rapid rate. The future of MANETs in military communications will inevitably be influenced by the developments taking place in the domains of these enabling technologies.
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"The steep rise in the number of UAS, deployed for both surveillance and combat operations has brought about the need for a large amount of data transfer between command centers and the edge of the tactical communication network," note Technical Insights Research Analysts Anirudh S. Srinivasan and Archit Subramanian. "This has necessitated the development of innovative MANET solutions catering to the reliability, security and scalability needs of the defense communications environment."
Today, MANETs enable war fighters to benefit from a sophisticated Internet protocol (IP)-based communications network that can be set up even in difficult terrain and in remote war zones. Furthermore, tactical network applications of MANETs also include realization of automated battlefields, wherein autonomous robots and autonomous ground vehicles are used to explore hostile battlegrounds and check for land mines. These significant strides have made ad hoc networking a very valuable option in modern tactical military communication networks and the industry is facing significant demand for MANET solutions from defense establishments worldwide.
On the radio side, key enabling technologies for MANETs that are likely to have a strong impact include software defined radios (SDR), cognitive radios (CR), and smart antenna techniques such as multiple-input, multiple output (MIMO).
"Open air laser links are also likely to complement, and perhaps eventually supplement, radio frequency (RF) links," says Subramanian. "In terms of networking, the fundamental Internet routing protocol, transmission control protocol/Internet protocol (TCP/IP) is known to be quite inadequate for MANET environments and is likely to be replaced by delay/disruption tolerant networking (DTN) protocol."
These enabling technologies are in various stages in the technology life cycle, and each one is likely to have a different kind of potential impact on MANET solutions. However, the difficulty in ensuring wireless network security has remained a perennial challenge for MANETs.
An insecure ad-hoc network at the edge of an existing communication infrastructure may potentially cause the entire network to become vulnerable to security breaches. Communicating wirelessly in free space, MANETs are particularly prone to various types of active attacks such as impersonation, denial of service, and disclosure attacks, in addition to passive eavesdropping.
"With MANETs likely to play a significant role in network-centric warfare, the need for multi-level security in such architecture will also become more important, apart from ensuring immunity from conventional wireless security threats," says Srinivasan. "Nevertheless, there seems to be added emphasis today in offering secure MANET solutions adhering to established security standards such as the US Federal Information Processing System (FIPS) 140-2."
Only a few companies are able to match up to the rigorous requirements of these standards. As defense establishments worldwide are moving toward an all-IP architecture, it becomes imperative that vendors do not insist on using proprietary security solutions, which result in stove-piped and expensive products. Adhering to security standards enables greater demand for more commercial off the shelf (COTS) products, bringing down the cost and simplifying the network architecture.
MANETs in Military Communications - Strategic Insights and the Road Ahead, a part of the Technical Insights subscription, provides an analysis of the diverse factors influencing the developments of mobile ad-hoc network (MANETs) for the military communications application segment. This research service includes detailed technology analysis and industry trends evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants.
Technical Insights is an international technology analysis business that produces a variety of technical news alerts, newsletters, and research services.
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MANETs in Military Communications - Strategic Insights and the Road Ahead / D1DA