Integrated CNI systems maximize situational awareness for tactical battlefield advantage when it matters most

BAE Systems is a world leader in developing and implementing secure, interoperable, multi-channel, and multi-band Communications, Navigation, and Identification (CNI) systems and products for air, land, maritime, space, cyber, and multi-domain platforms. Our advanced technology teams have installed, created, built, and delivered more than 10,000 interconnected, yet acutely secure CNI systems for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and at least 56 allied nations – including Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) network protocols. We design these mission-critical systems and products to perform effectively and reliably in the most demanding environments and conditions, providing an overwhelming advantage at every stage of the fight.
Providing U.S., NATO, and Coalition forces with the means to integrate every available asset into their mission planning and execution, including a mix of weapons systems and the latest actionable intelligence, can help significantly improve the outcomes of any mission. Our CNI products support our customers by combining advanced capabilities ranging from identification friend or foe (IFF), precision navigation, and advanced networking to software upgradability, high-speed data fusion and processing, information protection, numerous voice and data communication benefits.
In addition, the modular, multi-function open architecture and updatability of our systems means they can upgrade the capabilities of new or legacy platforms while greatly reducing size, weight, and power (SWaP) demands. The global resources of BAE Systems also allow us to quickly provide logistics, system integration, customization, and other support services to our broad portfolio of CNI products both at our U.S. facilities and on customer sites as needed, serving international markets around the world.


What exactly is Communications, Navigation and Identification (CNI)?

Communications, Navigation, and Identification (CNI) is a category of advanced electronic products and systems employed by the U.S. DoD, NATO, and other U.S. allies to carry out, share, protect, and track air, space, ground, water, and cyber-based platform missions. The technologies focus on performing the CNI tasks either individually or in combination. The three subcategories basically break out this way:
  1. Communications primarily focuses on secure, anti-jam radio communications between allied warfighters so they can securely carry out their duties and prevent adversaries from learning or interrupting their mission plans. Today, securing cyber systems is just as essential.
  2. Navigation electronics use GPS, geo-location, and other technologies, including avionics systems, to guide relevant platforms, track potential combatants, and engage in conflict if necessary. Connecting them to secure radios can also support situational awareness.
  3. Identification technologies help reduce “friendly fire” occurrences, keep track of allied personnel and their “vehicles,” prevent adversaries from accessing locations undetected, and play a role in threat detection, all of which supports situational awareness, as well.
Each of these subcategories play active roles in the use and development of electronic warfare (EW) systems, connecting mission participants to the electronic and kinetic tools and systems necessary to execute the mission, protect allies, and increase survivability. Electronic tools can include a number of different waveforms, right up to laser weapons like the Starfire Optical Range, while kinetic tools can include missiles and shells.

Since these systems can be the difference between a military mission’s success or failure, CNI products are developed and chosen with an emphasis on the special capabilities built into them to do their jobs securely, accurately, effectively, and constantly without fail. Different devices perform several different tasks, but when integrated well, they work together to enhance and protect communications between allied forces, maintain up-to-date situational awareness, identify and defeat threats, navigate accurately, and acquire proper targets.
CNI electronics range from radios, computers, cyber systems, sensors, satellites (SATCOM) and data processors to tactical data links, antennas, flight-critical avionics, navigation products, and tracking software. Also, while most of these are initially developed for military use, versions of these systems are also often adapted for civil and commercial flight, shipping logistics, and transport management.
To enhance security, increase capabilities, and reinforce performance, more advanced CNI technologies operate using frequencies, bands, and waveforms that are beyond the range of commercially-available consumer electronics. Due to a growing emphasis on electronic warfare (EW) systems, and increased near-peer threats that challenge previous western advantages in that area, there is a continuing need for CNI technology research and development that is unlikely to end anytime soon. That’s why it is important to choose partners like BAE Systems, who have the proven experience, expertise, and resources to develop the technology the right way.

How important is Tactical Data Links within the CNI category?

For secure communications, jam-resistance, and situational awareness, Tactical Data Links (TDL) is the standard by which all other systems are measured. It’s a TDL network protocol that makes it possible for NATO countries to exchange accurate, reliable voice and data information securely in real time, even in hostile environments. Over time, TDL innovations have grown in importance as they have become more sophisticated and more capable, especially in their ability to counter aggressive new technologies developed by near-peer rivals. In addition, while its primary role is communications, the TDL protocol provides more functionality to technologies created strictly for relative navigation and precise identification.
BAE Systems has been a TDL market leader since we initially developed the technology, in partnership with Collins Aerospace. Since then, BAE Systems has developed the JTIDS Class 2 TDL and a variety of airborne radios, cryptographic solutions, ground radios, and advanced tactical data links (ATDL), MIDS-on-Ship (maritime), multi-net transceivers, high-power amplifiers (HPA), and Concurrent multi-netting 4/Concurrent Contention Receive (CMN-4/CCR).

What type of radio expertise is needed to serve multiple platforms?

All three sectors of the CNI category – communications, navigation, and identification –use various types of radio waveforms and radio designs, often within a mix of platforms first utilized between two to 50 years ago. That’s why in-depth expertise with past and current radio systems is a minimum requirement to successfully serve this market. BAE Systems offers one of the most advanced radio technology product portfolios in the industry, as we have installed, created, built, and implemented thousands of cutting-edge radios over the decades. We have the resources needed to support airborne, shipboard, ground vehicle, and man-portable systems worldwide, including supporting and updating legacy systems. From AN/ARC-164 HAVE QUICK airborne radios, and AN/ASN-157 Doppler Navigation Systems to the full range of TDL products, the DoD’s Joint Force all domain concepts, the wide assortment of C2 and C4ISR systems, radio expertise and resources can give any fighting force a tactical edge toward mission success.

Does BAE Systems have strong production capabilities?

Advanced CNI technologies can only be effective if they are designed, produced, and in the field when and where they are needed most. However, the demand for CNI products and support can change quickly in response to world events, so filling that ever evolving demand can cause production and logistics challenges. BAE Systems has the system design authority and highly-optimized manufacturing capabilities, expertise, and global resources needed to consistently meet or exceed design and production deadlines, quality measures, and availability – including the flexibility to tighten lead times and accelerate production to meet our clients’ needs. We also have the DoD relationships and world-class production experience necessary to deliver as promised for the U.S. Air Force (USAF), U.S. Navy (USN) and Marines, U.S. Army, U.S. Coast Guard, and other departments. We also provide the comprehensive lifecycle support that those products and their users need – often for years at a time – to continue operating in the field.

Why employ a Modular Open System Architecture (MOSA)?

MOSA is a U.S. Department of Defense standardization regulation requiring that the thousands of products and systems they acquire year after year must work together more productively and update more affordably than in the past. Use of the word “modular” reinforces the need for platform interfaces that maximize how components built by different companies across different eras can work together and promote innovation, while adhering to tight budgets. BAE Systems is a leader in implementing MOSA and other open architecture standards in our CNI products and across all of the defense product categories we serve. Our advanced engineers don’t just abide by MOSA regulations, but also leverage them to enhance technological innovation and develop more productive practices with our partners.

What is Common Data Link (CDL) engineering?

Adopted by the DoD in 1991 as the U.S. military's primary protocol for imagery and signals intelligence communications, Common Data Link (CDL) has been the primary secure communications solution. The complexities of securing these communications, however, resulted in early CDL radios being very large and heavy – approximately 300 pounds – which was not an issue for a large aircraft, but had a negative SWaP impact on lighter aircraft, including being unworkable on most unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). As a result, recent CDL engineering focused on reducing the size and weight of the radios, even as its capabilities increased.
The advanced engineering teams at BAE Systems have been developing, implementing, supporting, and upgrading CDL technologies and systems since its introduction – including five generations of JITC-certified CDL systems. This experience has allowed BAE Systems to become the uncontested leader in more specialized data links, Navy Tactical Common Data Link (NTCDL) systems, Wide-Band Data Link Line-Of-Site (WBDL LOS) avionics, the CDL Portable Ground System, Advanced Tactical Data Link Waveforms (ATDL WF), and more.

Why is JADC2 awareness important?

The “mosaic” warfighting concept at the heart of Joint All-Domain Operations (JADO) and Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) is a fundamental shift in how future battles are fought and wars won. It’s an asymmetric, multi-level, multi-platform, all-domain approach to overwhelming large forces with smaller, but more connected, agile, flexible, and scalable forces. It’s a capability that rapidly connects all U.S military data sensors, defense systems, C2ISR leaders, shooters, and related communications devices –  including all  electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) devices – plus NATO and other allied partners into one integrated 5G “network-of-networks” fighting force. In the U.S. Department of Defense, that concept is currently being developed as the U.S. Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS), the U.S. Army’s Project Convergence, and the U.S. Navy’s Project Overmatch.
Very high speed collection, processing, and interpretation of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) data is necessary for the JADC2 approach to work. It applies artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to the process to accelerate operational usefulness. The secure, nimble, and interoperable capabilities of CNI technologies make them a central component of these JADC2 processes, and require the right technology engineering partners for development. BAE Systems spent decades providing the right combination of CNI experience, advanced engineering capabilities, aggressive production capacity, and reliable support resources that make us a smart choice for JADC2 technology partnership and research.

Where does cyber fit into CNI capabilities?

Cyber threats continue to grow in number, frequency, severity, and impact on integral systems worldwide, and the potential damage from those threats increase as more operational decision-making is done on mobile systems, and as joint operations integrate across military commands, departments, platforms, and – in the case of NATO – even nations. Asset interconnection makes for a powerful force against adversaries, but also makes the need for cyber defense, resilience, and response technologies more critical than ever.

A market-leading portfolio of CNI technologies

BAE Systems’ communications, navigation, and identification technologies continually raise the bar across the category, providing constantly-updated situational awareness (SA), cutting-edge computing abilities, worldwide interoperability, and exacting navigational and identification accuracy even in remote and/or hostile environments – all protected by secure, anti-jam capabilities that support the mission and improve survivability. Even better, our experienced engineering teams outperform our competitors by executing these integrated CNI solutions for maximized in-the-field performance in fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, ground vehicles, ships and submarines, unmanned vehicles, and ground troop electronics. Our current CNI product portfolio includes, but is not limited to:
  • Airborne High Frequency Radio Modernization (AHFRM): Our open architecture, software-defined radio (SDR) system maintains secure communications while defeating jamming from threats in a drop-in compatible radio design that maximizes commercial off-the-shelf technology.
  • Starfire Radios™ Airborne Communications System: This next-generation VHF/UHF multi-band, multi-mission system features NSA Type 1 embedded cryptography in a SDR, updatable for future operational, mission, and user configuration.
  • Doppler Navigation Sets: The AN/ASN-157 Doppler navigation set provides accurate 3-D velocity and navigation over the full operational range of helicopters. The AN/ASN-128B/C is an easily upgradable helicopter navigation set that integrates a global positioning system (GPS) receiver with stand-alone Doppler navigation and guidance.
  • AN/DPX-7 Reduced Size Transponder (RST): This high-performance RST already meets tomorrow’s military and civil IFF specs, including Mode 5, Mode S, and ADS-B functionality in a reduced size, lower cost unit.
  • FireNet™ System Receiver: This small form factor multi-net/concurrent contention receiver (CMN4/CCR4) delivers narrow-band, wide-band, and TDL capabilities in the Modular Open System Architecture (MOSA) required by today’s tactical aircraft.
  • Identification Friend or Foe (IFF): Our innovative, accurate Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) solutions led the world for more than 75 years, and already lead into the next generation.
  • Interoperable Common Data Link (iCDL): A complete, yet affordable, CDL solution that gives airborne, surface, and maritime platforms wideband, wireless data link capability at a small size and low cost. 
  • Tactical Data Link products: As the TDL market leader, BAE Systems gives allied forces a network-centric, tactical edge against well-armed adversaries by enabling large volumes of data to be exchanged securely, accurately, and reliably in real time.
  • Low Probability of Intercept Altimeters (LPIA): The low probability of intercept altimeter’s (LPIA) waveform permits high accuracy ranging and covertness, supporting mission success.
  • Mission computing capabilities: We provide affordable, industry-leading computing capacity, reliability, and availability in flexible, open architecture designs ruggedized for demanding military platforms.
  • Software defined Airborne Radios: Battle-proven, multi-band, multi-mission tactical communications systems with secure, anti-jam capabilities.
  • Multi-Mode Receivers (MMR): These advanced systems promote worldwide interoperability by supporting the global transition from land-based navigation aids to satellite-based systems, for civilian and military operators.
  • Multifunctional Information Distribution System – Joint Tactical Radio System (MIDS JTRS): Our advanced four-channel TDL radio upgrade replaces many legacy radios in military platforms, reducing any need for excessive spares and logistics support while expanding operational effectiveness. 
  • MIDS on Ship (MOS): A low volume terminal (LVT) with high power output (HPAG), the MIDS on Ship system offers full interoperability with all tactical data links systems while also adding capability for 1,000 watts of RF output power.
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Nick Altomare
Director of Business Development
Kevin Raffloer
Kevin Raffloer
Business Development

Informing the fight

Related topics to explore

Airborne Radios • Airborne and Maritime/Fixed Station (AMF) • All-Domain Awareness • Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS) • Cross-Platform Attack Protection • Guidance and Control Systems • Joint All-Domain Operations (JADO) • Joint Air Power Competence Center (JAPCC) • Line of Sight (LOS) • Low Probability of Intercept Altimeters (LPIA) • Mobile Threat Defense • Multi-Function Open Systems (MOSA/CMOSS) • O-level, I-level, and D-level Support Solutions • Open Mission Systems (OMS) • Scalable Networked Data Links (SNDL) • Software Communications Architecture (SCA) Scalable Waveform (SW) • Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) • TacNet Tactical Networking Technology (TTNT) • Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) • USAF High-Capacity Backbone (HCB) Mission System
Learn more about our Communications, Navigation, and Identification (CNI) systems today. Contact our representative to arrange a meeting.