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Multifunctional Information Distribution System-Low Volume Terminal (MIDS-LVT)

The Multifunctional Information Distribution System-Low Volume Terminal (MIDS-LVT) is an advanced Link-16 command, control, communications, and intelligence (C3I) system incorporating high-capacity, jam-resistant, digital communication links for exchange of near real-time tactical information, including both data and voice, among air, ground, and sea elements. MIDS-LVT is intended to support key theater functions such as surveillance, identification, air control, weapons engagement coordination, and direction for all the Services and Allied forces. The system will provide jamming-resistant, wide-area communications on a Link-16 network among MIDS and Joint Tactical Information Distribution System (JTIDS) equipped platforms.

In addition to performing C3I functions, MIDS serves as a navigation aid by providing relative navigation position-keeping functions through the use of precise participant location and identification (PPLI) Link-16 messages and incorporates TACAN functionality that replaces the AN/ARN-118 TACAN system. MIDS is also designed to be fully interoperable with the Joint Tactical Information Distribution System (JTIDS), an earlier Link-16 system. As a Pre-Planned Product Improvement of the JTIDS Class 2 Terminal, the MIDS-LVT will employ the Link-16 (TADIL-J) message standard of U.S. Navy/NATO publications. Although the MIDS-LVT terminal will have the same performance capabilities as the Class 2 JTIDS Terminal, its size and weight will be significantly reduced.

Platforms identified for MIDS-LVT integration include aircraft carriers, cruisers, F/A-18, F-16, EA-6B, and Airborne Laser. Additionally, MIDS-LVT is being integrated into Eurofighter-2000 and Rafale Allied platforms. Navy ships will be the first US platforms equipped with MIDS-LVT, followed by incorporation of the system into F/A-18 and F-16 aircraft representing the majority (1,650+) of the US MIDS-LVT buy. McDonnell Douglas Aircraft (now Boeing Company) was awarded the integration contract for MIDS-LVT in the F/A-18.

MIDS-LVT is a multinational, multiservice cooperative program sponsored by five NATO countries (United States, France, Italy, Germany, and Spain) with the US Navy as lead service for US applications and overall program manager. The program is managed by the Navy's MIDS International Program Office, which operates under an international agreement among the five participating nations. MIDS is being developed by an international consortium (MIDSCO), with representation from U.S. and NATO defense and aerospace companies. The contract for the engineering and manufacturing development of this C3I program was awarded in March 1994 by the US Navy on behalf of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United States.

During initial flight tests with F/A-18s, the MIDS Tactical Air Navigation (TACAN) card performed poorly. There were reported signal losses and incorrect lock up of bearing and range, incorrect beacon identification, and other associated problems. The Navy considers TACAN as mission critical equipment and must be working for operational aircraft. Improvements in software (tracking, interrogation, and antenna switching algorithms) and tracking filters have alleviated some of the problems. Initial flight testing of new software and firmware indicates the MIDS LVT embedded TACAN deficiency is largely resolved.

The first terminal delivery was April 1998. However, subsequent terminal deliveries are substantially behind schedule and the EMD contract is over budget. Certain key cards, such as the Exciter/Interference Protection Feature (IPF) card and the Data Processor card, are in short supply. This is due in part to inadequate quality assurance screening of parts at the manufacturing plants. Other contributing factors to schedule slips include diverted manpower and test resources needed to resolve technical issues discovered during developmental testing and added complexity and frequent changes in requirements caused by system development under the auspices of a multi-national consortium. Overall, the MIDS-LVT program has slipped by more than two years as compared to the schedule prior to 1997.

The Army's MIDS LVT(2) is a high-capacity, antijam, secure, line-of-sight radio capable of providing situation awareness. Itís a low-cost replacement for the Armyís Class 2M terminal thatís smaller and weighs less. MIDS LVT(2) is derived from MIDS LVT(1), used by the Air Force, Navy and American allies. It was modified to be functionally interchangeable with the Class 2M to satisfy the approved ORD and reduce integration and training costs. LVT(2) has 85-percent commonality in parts with LVT(1), with main differences in cooling, power supply, host interface and eliminating unnecessary air-platform features. LVT(2) uses the same spread-spectrum communications technology to provide Navy Link 16 message capability. LVT(2) will be used by Army air-defense platforms for engagement operations, command and control, surveillance, intelligence, weapon status and coordination, and battlefield situation awareness (air and ground).

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