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In the design of tactical communication systems

Conference Paper · April 2018

DOI: 10.1109/SYSCON.2018.8369512

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Mu-Cheng Wang
Raytheon Company Space and Airorne Systems


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In the Design of Tactical Communication Systems
Mu-Cheng Wang1, Y. Simon Chuang2, Steven A. Davidson1, Benyuan Liu3
1RaytheonSpace and Airborne Systems, Marlborough, MA, USA
Integrated Defense Systems, Tewksbury, MA, USA
3Dept. of Computer Science, University of Massachusetts, Lowell, MA, USA

{, simon_chuang, steve_davidson},

Abstract— In order to provide versatile and reliable transport of Additionally, a future Satellite Communications (SATCOM)
data, voice and video traffic, military organizations deploy system may offer packet switched service onboard the satellite
complex, integrated communications systems that combine which significantly enhances its transmission capacity and link
terrestrial, airborne, and space-based platforms. These tactical utilization, and reduces its transmission delay. As shown in
communication systems, typically wireless networks, interface Figure 1, the Joint Aerial Layer Network (JALN) is a vision for
with COTS routers at the sub-network boundaries. The wireless combining many different existing networks and being able to
sub-systems employed are susceptible to time-varying link quality route and transport required information to a much wider array of
resulted from dynamically changing network conditions. users [1].
Additionally, the system may also be subject to the anti-access area
denial (A2AD) attacks. In these situations, routers must measure
the quality of the wireless links to enforce the QoS policy. Should
the link degrade, routers redirect some or all of the traffic to
alternative paths. This requires communication systems to
support resilient centralized command, distributed control, and
decentralized execution, and to date no COTS routers capable of
routing traffic based on the traffic’s characteristics.

In this paper, we describe and demonstrate an application-centric

network architecture which can appropriately respond the
dynamic nature of network topology and link quality at the Link
Layer, and can overcome the limitations of conventional single-
cost function-based routing protocols at the Network Layer. This
architecture has been simulated via OPNET and the results clearly
demonstrate that this new approach to routing offers a better QoS Figure 1: Future military communication networks
and dynamical distribution of traffic to all the available paths,
which is crucial in tactical communication systems. To seamlessly integrate the emerging satellite networks with
existing communication networks, such as Navy Automated
Keywords —Flow Control, Mobil Ad-hoc Networks (MANET), Digital Network System (ADNS) and Army Warfighter
Multiple Active Cost Functions (MACF), Load Distribution and Information Network – Tactical (WIN-T), and future airborne
Balancing, Link Access, Multi-Topology Routing (MTR) networks, is a very challenging issue. Given the dynamically
changing topology and link conditions of wireless networks, it is
1. INTRODUCTION crucial to develop and deploy effective link access protocols,
Actionable information is the dream; not being able to deliver it is routing protocols, and management strategies which can
a nightmare. No matter how complete, reliable, or actionable the accommodate the unique characteristics of future military
collected and compiled information is, if there are obstructions that communication networks and meet individual traffic requirements.
prevent delivery and exploitation expeditiously, the information However, to the best of the authors’ knowledge, no COTS router
might as well not exist at all. That is the problem facing has the aforementioned capability of routing traffic based on the
warfighters in tactical theaters today. Therefore, how to traffic’s characteristics and link quality attributes.
disseminate data to warfighters on time-critical missions by
leveraging all available routes in tactical theaters is the central This paper is organized as follows. Section 2 overviews the
focus of this research. challenge of incorporating the link quality and status attributes and
selecting optimal routes for different traffics. Section 3 describes
The future military communication systems are envisioned to the proposed solution to achieve the goals. Section 4 demonstrates
support a diverse range of applications including voice, data, video, the performance improvement achieved through custom developed
broadcast, imagery, and multicast services for users. The networks OPNET models. Section 5 provides concluding remarks.
will consist of both wired and wireless connections. The wireless
connections can either be mobile or stationary. In general, mobile
wireless connections have constantly changing topology and ink Two architectural issues must be addressed in order to provide
conditions, and are subject to significant transmission delays. traffic distribution to accommodate the dynamically changing
nature of wireless networks. The first issue is how a routing device

This document does not contain technology or technical data controlled under either the U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations or the U.S.
Export Administration Regulations.
can detect the changes in link quality, including the Function (SACF), uniformly applied to all traffic. This singular
increase/decrease of link bandwidth, jitter, latency (delay), and cost function is used to calculate the total cost metric for each path
changes in network topology due to the entry, exit, or inaccessible without regard to the nature and type of traffic. In other words, this
of network nodes. The second issue is how effectively a network “one cost function fits all” approach with seemingly tunable
device can utilize the latest network topology and link status in the parameters yields only one metric value for each path. Obviously,
route selection process so that the selected routes can meet an optimal path based on this metric value for any given
individual traffic requirements. Prior research attempted to application may not be an optimal one for other, different classes
address these two issues are discussed in the following subsections. of data streams (with different delay, jitter or bandwidth
requirements). Since any one path may have different quality
2.1. Link Quality Monitoring and Reporting metrics for these different observables, if only one metric is used
RFC 4938/5578 is an IETF standard that defines the Point-to-Point to determine “best route” then it will only be the “best” path for
Protocol over Ethernet (PPPoE) with credit-based extensions for one type of traffic flow.
communications between a router and a radio device that operates
in a variable bandwidth environment and has limited buffering Another issue associated with the SACF-based routing is that the
capabilities [2, 3]. RFC 4938/5578 is a promising technology traffic may be distributed unevenly across the network. Because all
which can serve as a bridge to merge two very different worlds, IP the traffic with the same source/destination pair will be routed
routing and mobile radio, while taking advantage of the strengths through an optimal path, it leaves other “less optimal” routes
of each. This technology has been adopted in US Army WIN-T underutilized. Previously, Multi-Topology Routing (MTR) was
and Navy ADNS networks and can potentially benefit Air Force intended to resolve the load balance problem by allowing manually
Airborne networks as well [3]. configured routes and predefined, static subnetwork topology
tuned to best support different QoS classes [7, 8]. MTR still uses
Similar to RFC 5578, Radio-to-Router Control Protocol (R2CP), one cost function for evaluating routes within each subnetwork.
exchanges dynamic metric information of the network used by the Unfortunately, the statically partitioned subnetwork topology and
OSPF algorithm in routers [4]. R2CP builds both radio-to-router links fails to adapt to frequent and fast changes of the topology
associations as well as individual sessions to describe a remote and/or link quality in the tactical network. That is because MTR
neighbor. The radio periodically sends metrics to the router to does not consider dynamics of entry/leave of wireless devices, nor
calculate link cost and shape its data traffic. The radio functions network/link load and channel quality variability. Consequently,
like a Layer 2 (L2) switch and can only identify remote radio- the static nature of MTR could overwhelm the network operators
router pairs using the L2 MAC addresses. With R2CP, the router in many dynamic situations.
receives metrics for each neighboring router, identified by the
MAC address of the remote router. The R2CP daemon translates 3. FUTURE MILITARY COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS
the MAC addresses to link the local IP address and sends the In future military communication systems, it is anticipated that a
metrics for each neighbor to OSPF. Unlike the RFC 5578, which seamless internetwork will be created by employing a set of
is point-to-point, all nodes in the R2CP network are in a broadcast widely-dispersed distributed, adaptive gateways will be located on
LAN and no additional overhead is sent over the air. any aircraft, surface vehicle, or fixed emplacement which has two
or more network interfaces connecting to either a wired network or
Data Link Exchange Protocol (DLEP) was developed to address a radio. Each gateway will need to route packet optimally in an
some of the limitations of both RFC 5578 and R2CP [5]. DLEP environment that may be totally permissive, contested, or anti-
allows routers to connect to various link types such as point-to- access and area denial (A2AD) [1].
point links and shared medium.
In this study, a gateway is assumed to consist of one or more
RFC 5578 offers the credit-based flow control. R2CP and DLEP partner TDMA radios and a router as shown in Figure 2. The
inherently utilize the rate-based flow control. The latest DLEP TDMA radio transmits packets received from the associated router
draft also offers an optional credit-based control. Whereas RFC during its allocated timeslots. The router implements traffic
5578 and R2CP provide radio-to-router communications, DLEP classification, policing and shaping, and queue scheduling for the
allows for a flexible bi-directional communication between radio packets.
and router, allowing greater flexibility [6]. Unlike R2CP, DLEP
allows the router to request additional bandwidth/timeslots and
latency constraints from the radio. In both DLEP and RFC 5578,
routers and radios that exist as part of the same node (e.g., that are
locally connected) can utilize a discovery technique to locate each
other, thus avoiding a-priori configuration. Cheng, Wheeler, and
Leytser overviewed RFC 5578, R2CP, and DLEP and highlighted
advantages and disadvantages of each at the tactical edge [6].
2.2. Optimal Route Selection and Load Balancing
Generally, the traffic through a network consists of flows from
multiple applications and utilities, many of which differ in
requirements for bandwidth, delay and jitter. These requirements
must be met to provide quality of service (QoS). However,
existing routing protocols lack the sophistication in the sense that
they only make route decisions based on a Single Active Cost Figure 2: Exemplary network topology in a tactical network

Non-Export Controlled – See Sheet 1

Multiple paths may exist between any given source and destination flow control scheme may also have buffer overflows. Once the
pair. For example, in Figure 2 client A can communicate with buffer becomes full, the radio will be forced to drop packets
client B via either gateway A or B interfaced to SATCOM and line- regardless of its priority. Packet drop may potentially void the QoS
of-sight (LOS) links, respectively. Ideally, to select the optimal policy enforced by the partner router and result in control path (or
route for each traffic, each gateway should support the following even mission) failures. Table 1 summarizes the existing/current
two objectives: link access/flow control protocols described in this section.
(A) Satisfy individual traffic requirements
Protocols PPPoE w/ R2CP DLEP
(B) Dynamically route traffic based on the current network
topology and link conditions and achieve load balance Extension
IETF Ratified RFC 4938 / Internet Internet Draft
The following subsections describe the required techniques to RFC 5578 Draft 00, 05, 2014
achieve these objectives. 2011
Vender Router Cisco, Juniper Cisco, Cisco, Juniper
3.1. Incorporating Link Status and Quality Attributes Support Juniper
into Route Selection Radio ViaSat, Harris Unknown Unknown
As described in Section 2.1, flow control protocols of PPPoE, Flow Control Credits Link Link metrics
R2CP, and DLEP have been extensively studied and currently Between Router metrics, and credits
supported by several COTS routers. A radio constantly monitors and Radio such as (optional)
the wireless link quality and reports link metrics to the attached
Connection with Point-to-point Shared P-to-P and
router for making routing decisions. For example, assume the Neighbors (P-to-P) medium shared medium
gateway A in Figure 2 can no longer sustain its original data rate Connection Type P-to-P Over a LAN P-to-P
due to the degradation of satellite link and loss of LOS connection. Concerns Processing May drop Link metrics:
After receiving link update from gateway A, router C will update overhead, packets May drop
its routing table and then forward client A’s packets to gateway B. buffer/credit when radio packets when
size, deadlock is off radio is off
In the TDMA networks, the radio must have sufficient memory to when credit Credits:
store packets received from the router for a later transmission. To counts are out Processing
avoid buffer overflow, a flow control protocol is used to regulate of overhead and
synchronization buffer/credit
the traffic flow from a router to the TDMA radio. Both PPPoE and
size, deadlock
DLEP adopt the credit-based flow control. In high data rate, the Recommendation Replace the N/A Replace the
frequent credit updates and processing will slow down router’s credit-based by credit-based by
operations and may yield bad compounding effects. This can result transmission- transmission-
in packet losses on router’s egress queues due to buffer overflows on/off signals on/off signals
and credits out of synch between router and radio. These failures Table 1: Comparison of existing flow control protocols
have been observed in laboratory experiments [9]. Figure 3 depicts
the excessive credit granting packets sent during the transmission. Each flow control protocol has its own weakness in handling
Enabled periods packets waiting for their allotted timeslots, resulting in dropped
Assigned packets because of buffer overflow and potential synchronization
... issues. With RFC 5578 and DLEP, these issues can be resolved by
Frame i Frame i + 1 Time using the transmission-on/off signals to replace the original credit-
based scheme [9]. The transmission-on/off approach eliminates the
credit tracking in routers and radios and consequently avoids the
... credits out of synch issue and yields better flow control with
simplicity. Thus, both RFC 5578 and DLEP can be safely chosen
Packets received after the end of an enabled
to provide the link state updates and regulate the traffic flow
Credits Sent
period due to remaining unused credits
between routers and radios in the tactical TDMA networks.
... 3.2. Achieving Optimal Routes and Balancing Load
Reduction in flow control signals
Incorporating the current link state and link quality attributes into
Transmission-on/off generated during an enabled period
Sent the route selection process alone cannot guarantee optimal routes
... for all applications with different QoS requirements. There is one
major issue associated with all the standard-based routing
Figure 3: Excessive credit packets sent during transmission protocols, i.e., they employ only a Single Active Cost Function
(SACF). SACF with seemingly tunable parameters yields only one
In R2CP, the radio probes the link periodically and forwards the metric value for each path. Obviously, an optimal path based on
results to its local router. The results include time-varying link this metric value for an application (e.g., ftp) may not be an optimal
metrics of latency, current data rate and max data rate one for others (e.g., voice).
(CDR/MDR), relative link quality (RLQ), resources, and neighbor
up/down state. After receiving these link metrics, the router As a simple example, consider a tactical network having both
calculates link costs and updates its routing table. For this type of satellite and LOS links in which the satellite has high bandwidth
TDMA shared medium networks, the radio employing link metrics and the LOS links have low latency as shown in Figure 2. Ideally,
the satellite and LOS links should be the preferred choice for delay-
Non-Export Controlled – See Sheet 1
tolerant and delay-sensitive traffic, respectively. To achieve this allow more sophistication. For the purposes of demonstration, the
routing strategy, it can be partially implemented by configuring following cost functions were chosen for the simulated network.

static routes in the routers or by using existing routing protocols, Fftp =  (1)

such as policy-based routing (PBR) and MTR [7, 8, 13]. However,
static routes and MTR are unable to adapt to frequent and fast   
Fvoice =  +   , BER << 1 (2)
changes in the tactical described in Section 2.2. To . 
resolve this limitation, a requirements-driven scheme that    
leverages multiple active cost functions (MACF), imparting a Fvideo =  + +   , BER << 1 (3)

unique cost function for each traffic class running on the network,
has been proposed [10] and will be demonstrated here. In Eq. (1), 45000000 is reasonable choice quality unit factor for
bandwidth (as will be seen in the results). In Eq. (2) and Eq. (3),
MACF routing automatically finds the optimal routes for all traffic the standard per link delay is set to 25ms to normalize the delay
classes based on the attributes and weights supplied by the network whereas the 40 is a weighting factor for the Bit Error Rate (BER).
designers. The output from MACF is one or more optimal paths Without loss of generality, Fftp is also chosen as the default cost
for each traffic class. The traffic class information is encoded in function for SACF, i.e., FSACF = Fftp. From the syntax of the above
the IP header, using the Differentiated Service Code Point (DSCP) cost functions, theoretically, there is no limit to the number of QoS
value. When routing packets, the MACF-based router examines parameters one can incorporate. The network designer can select
the DSCP value, it chooses the corresponding routing table and whatever cost factors the routers measure, and thereby construct
then selects the optimal route from the appropriate table. Given the most effective cost function for each traffic stream. This is how
the same source/destination pair, all traffic classes can be routed MACF routing supports the objective (A).
independently and they may not select the same route. Thus, the
MACF-based routers can distribute network traffic more evenly To demonstrate objective (B), i.e., dynamic routing capability with
across the network and achieve better network utilization when the latest link states, Figure 4 shows the tactical network topology
compared to the conventional SACF routing. considered in this study. This exemplary network has end users at
the periphery; there are wireless edge routers and core routers.
In this paper we describe a network architecture which can Between these devices, there exist wireless links either established
incorporate the dynamic nature of network topology and link or to be established. Red arrows on the links represent OPNET
quality at the Link Layer, and overcome the limitations of animated traffic during simulation.
conventional SACF routing protocols at the Network Layer. To
conduct the performance evaluation of medium to large sized
tactical networks with the proposed architecture, the OPNET
network simulation tool was chosen for this study. It was selected
because of its integrated tool suites, especially the Result
Browser’s ability to present a composite view of the physical, data
link, routing, and the user layers.

Because OPNET Modeler supports only the conventional SACF

routing, MACF routing has to be custom designed by creating new
models of State Transition Diagram, process model for each state,
and simulation code [11]. We have implemented MACF routing
and its associated routing logic in OPNET. The implementation
and detailed test results are described in [12]. The testbed, test Figure 4: Chosen network topology and resulting traffic paths
scenarios, and relevant results which demonstrate the effectiveness
In this network, (Client_0, Client_1) and (Client_6, Client_7) are
of this architecture are described in the following section.
sending ftp traffic. Similarly, (Client_2, Client_3) and (Client_8,
4. MACF OPNET SIMULATION AND TEST RESULTS Client_9) are sending voice traffic. (Client_4, Client_5) and
(Client_10, Client_11) are sending video streams. These clients
The objectives of using OPNET simulation are to demonstrate that maintain one link to their gateway routers. Table 2 summarizes
this architecture can: (A) offer highly differentiated services in network links with their names and types.
routing, i.e., performing route selection based on individual traffic
Link Group / Type Links
needs; and (B) effectively converge to a new optimum, which
GS / (SATCOM) (rtr_5, rtr_8), (rtr_6, rtr_8)
dynamically adapt itself to the latest network condition (e.g., newly
GS´/ (SATCOM) (rtr_4, rtr_8), (rtr_7, rtr_8)
introduced LOS links). These two capabilities are described in
GG / (LOS) (rtr_4, rtr_6), (rtr_6, rtr_7)
Section 3 as “shall have” for gateways in the future military
GG´ / (LOS) (rtr_4, rtr_5), (rtr_5, rtr_7)
communication systems, which MTR/PBR/SACF fails to meet.
AG / (LOS) (rtr_0, rtr_4), (rtr_1, rtr_5),
(rtr_2, rtr_6), (rtr_3, rtr_7)
In this OPNET MACF performance study, three traffic classes (rtr_0, rtr_1), (rtr_0, rtr_2),
AA / (LOS)
were considered, i.e., ftp, video, and voice. Each of these traffic (rtr_1, rtr_3), (rtr_2, rtr_3)
classes has a unique DSCP value in the packet header assigned by CG / (LOS) (clt_6, rtr_0), (clt_8, rtr_0),
the traffic sources or routers. For each traffic class, there is a (clt_10, rtr_0),(clt_7, rtr_3)...
corresponding cost function and a unique routing table in the Table 2: Link names and types
router. The cost functions can be simple expressions of variables
and math operators. They can also be in context free languages to
Non-Export Controlled – See Sheet 1
To demonstrate how MACF routing can offer dynamic load newly introduced LOS links, i.e., (rtr_4, rtr_5) and (rtr_5, rtr_7),
distribution and differential services in routing to accommodate the which was detected and quickly utilized under the MACF control.
dynamically changing nature of wireless networks, two scenarios Ftp and video traffics are still flowing via rtr_8 as shown in Figure
were considered in this study, i.e., (1) network topology change 6 because it is still on the optimal route according to the exemplary
and (2) link degradation. Table 3 shows the optimal routes selected MACF cost functions. The slight dip in the middle of Figure 6
for the given source/destination pairs based on MACF routing. reflects the voice traffic (a small percentage) no longer using the
Src/Dest / Scenario 1: Cost: MACF Least Cost Paths SATCOM link.
Traffic class Scenario 2: Cost: MACF Least Cost Paths
client_6, Scenario 1:
client_7 6: rtr_0, rtr_4, rtr_8, rtr_7, rtr_3 SACF
/ftp Scenario 2:
6: rtr_0, rtr_4, rtr_8, rtr_7, rtr_3
client_8, Scenario 1: MACF
client_9 150.8:rtr_0,rtr_4,rtr_8,rtr_7,rtr_3(SATCOM)
/voice 115.4:rtr_0,rtr_4,rtr_5,rtr_7,rtr_3(LOS new)
Scenario 2:
150.8:rtr_0,rtr_4,rtr_8,rtr_7,rtr_3 (SATCOM)
275.4:rtr_0,rtr_4,rtr_8,rtr_7,rtr_3 (SATCOM)
193.4:rtr_0,rtr_4,rtr_5,rtr_7,rtr_3 (LOS)
Table 3: Optimal routes for the given source/destination pairs
Figure 5: E2E delay and accumulated voice throughput via the
4.1. Scenario 1 – Network Topology Change newly introduced LOS links (a.k.a. Sample Sum in OPNET term)
To simulate dynamic link up/down and degraded conditions, the
link status, data rate, delay, or BER on a radio link can be changed
programmatically. In this scenario, new LOS links (rtr_4, rtr_5)
and (rtr_5, rtr_7) were introduced, which triggers a rerouting of
traffic for particular traffic classes. Upon detecting these new links,
the associated routers start to broadcast notification to all
neighbors. For flexibility, the OPNET Interface Control
Information packet is used to implement the Link State Figure 6: Throughput (bits/s) of link (rtr_4, rtr_8) which still
Advertisement (LSA). Upon detecting link establishment, MACF- carries other types of traffic, i.e., ftp and video
capable routers, i.e., rtr_4, rtr_5 and rtr_7, broadcast the LSA
updates to other routers in the network. 4.2. Scenario 2 – Link Degradation
Upon receiving a LSA update, the MACF-capable router first Scenario 2 simulates a high BER caused by interference to the
checks if it is redundant. If the update is not redundant, the router SATCOM link on which the ftp, voice and video were carried. The
redistributes this LSA to its neighbors and then starts to re-evaluate network topology remained the same and links were configured
routes by using the configured MACF cost functions. If the optimal with new initial values of bandwidth, delay, and BER. The link
route to a destination is changed, the per-class routing table will be degradation caused by high BER was introduced to the
updated accordingly. Table 4 shows a portion of the updated SATCCOM link at ~10s into the test for both MACF and SACF
routing tables of rtr_4, which indicates voice traffic is now (in separate runs). Table 5 shows the calculated link costs before
forwarded to rtr_5 (in blue) instead of rtr_8 originally. and after SATCOM link GS’ was degraded. Initially, the MACF
routers chose the SATCOM links for all traffic because they offer
Traffic Destination SACF/ Interface Name / Next Hop the least costs. Intuitively, per the exemplary cost functions, the
Class MACF
SATCOM link had low BER though long delay. Upon degradation,
ftp client_7 Both pt_1/rtr_8
voice client_9 MACF pt_2/rtr_5 (changed)
the partner routers/gateways detected the high BER on the GS’ link
SACF pt_1/rtr_8(unchanged) and broadcasted the LSAs to their neighbors. The MACF-based
video client_11 Both pt_1/rtr_8 routers avoided the SATCOM links with high BER and used the
Table 4: Updated routing table in rtr_4 after LOS is introduced LOS links instead. Starting at ~10s into the simulation, the LOS
links (rtr_4, rtr_5) and (rtr_5, rtr_7) carried the delay-sensitive
In contrast, given the same scenario of introducing two new LOS
voice and video traffic, resulting in lower BER and shorter end-to-
links, the conventional SACF routing, which does not differentiate
end delay. The resulting traffic patterns of Scenario 2 are similar
between traffic types, cannot provide differentiated services in
to those in Figures 5 and 6 for Scenario 1. That is high BER links
routing, resulting in inferior routes for the voice and video traffic.
(rtr_4, rtr_8) and (rtr_8, rtr_7) were no longer used for voice and
Table 4 shows the selected route for voice remains unchanged in
video but only for ftp. Voice and video traffics flew through
the SACF-based rtr_4 (in red) after receiving the LSA updates.
different LOS links as long as they were in the least cost paths.
Figure 5, upper part, shows the end-to-end (E2E) delay of voice
By comparison, both the SACF-based routing of PBR and MTR
improvement from greater than 250ms to less than 5ms after
with the static network partition are unable to adapt to high BER
reroute (i.e., via rtr_5) occurs around 10s into the test run by using
and almost all other changes in topology and link quality [7–9].
MACF. The E2E delay of voice using SACF routing remains high
Figure 7 shows the simulation results of high BER to the SATCOM
at ~250ms because it still uses the SATCOM link despite the newly
link from two perspectives. Although the E2E delay remains
established LOS links. In comparison to SACF routing, MACF
unchanged (upper) as observed by Client_8, the voice traffic via
routing not only significantly reduces the E2E delay of voice but
rtr_4 and rtr_8 suffered high packet loss ratio (PLR in %, middle).
also improves the overall network utilization. Figure 5, lower part,
Thus, the effective voice throughput dropped accordingly (bottom)
shows the accumulated throughput of voice traffic flowing through
as reported by rtr_4. Figure 8 shows the accumulated traffic
Non-Export Controlled – See Sheet 1
volume of voice at the sender (red) and the receiver (blue). The with the best QoS by leveraging MACF. The end result will be
BER accounts for the gap between these two. military tactical communication systems that are application
Link BW Delay (s) BER centric, more robust to changes and disruption, better use network
(Mbps) Fftp Fvoice Fvideo
resources, and flexible for migration and expansion as summarized
GS 30 10-7
0.125 1.5 37.7 39.2 in Table 6.
30 -7
GS´ 1.5 37.7 39.2
10-4 1.5 105.0 106.5 Architecture Conventional Proposed
GG 3 0.001 10-5.5 15.0 64.0 79.0 Scheme only PBR MTR
GG´ 3 0.001 10-5.5 15.0 64.0 79.0 Cost Function One per One per One per One for
AG 30 0.001 10-7 1.5 32.7 34.2 / Routing network network subnetwork each traffic
AA 3 0.001 10-4 15.0 100.0 115.0 Table class
CG 30 0.005 10-8 1.5 25.2 26.7 DiffServ in No Limited Limited Yes
Table 5: Link costs calculated by MACF routing before and after
QoS Support At At egress At egress Both
the SATCOM link GS’ was degraded egress queues only queues only routing and
queues egress
only queues
SACF Load Balance No Limited Limited Yes
MACF Robustness Good Good Average Good
(Route only
within subnet
SATCOM Link boundary)
LOS Link Pre- No Required Required No
Configuration (Static) (Static)
Adapting to Yes Limited Limited Yes
MACF Change
SACF Flexibility for Yes Limited Limited Yes
Migration & (Require (Require
Expansion reconfig) reconfig)
Flow Control DLEP and RFC5578 (Recommended), and R2CP
Figure 7: High BER link causes high PLR and reduced
throughput though E2E delay observed stays the same Table 6: Tradeoffs between SACF and MACF architectures
Sender 1. Joint Chief of Staff, “Joint Concept for Command and Control of the
Receiver (MACF) Joint Aerial Layer Network,” March 2015.
2. B. Barry, S. Ratliff, et al., “RFC 5578 - PPP Over Ethernet (PPPoE)
Receiver (SACF)
Extensions for Credit Flow and Link Metrics,” Network Working
Group, February 2010.
3. J. Ptasinski and Y. Congtang, “The Automated Digital Network
System (ADNS) Interface to Transformational Satellite
Figure 8: Accumulated voice data volume of sender and receiver
Communications System (TSAT),” Proceedings of 2007 IEEE
Although only delay and throughput of a few streams are shown in MILCOM, October, 2007.
the above figures, MACF routing can benefit all applications in the 4. D. Dubois, A. Kovummal, et. Al., “Radio-Router Control Protocol
network. The test scenarios considered in this study exemplify the (R2CP) draft-dubois-r2cp-00,” Internet Engineering Task Force,
real world scenarios. The test results demonstrate that MACF March 2011.
5. S. Ratliff, B. Berry, et al., “Dynamic Link Exchange Protocol (DLEP)
routing can outperform the conventional SACF routing. These draft-ietf-manet-dlep-05,” Mobile Ad hoc Networks Working Group,
results also suggest MACF can also achieve finer granularity of February 10, 2014.
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5. CONCLUSION 7. P. Psenak, S. Mirtorabi, et al., “RFC 4915 - Multi-Topology Routing
in OSPF”, Network Working Group, February 2007.
Military officials envision a future where they can network 8. “Multi-Topology Routing”, Cisco Systems document.
together all communications assets under even the harshest 9. M. Wang, S. A. Davidson, and S. Mohan, “Design Consideration of
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IEEE MILCOM, November, 2011.
comprehensive, and actionable information must be transported 10. M. Wang, S. A. Davidson, and S. Chuang, “A Design Method to Select
efficiently and reliably [1, 14]. In this paper, we have described a Optimal Routes and Balance Load in Wireless Communication
network architecture enabled by the use of Multiple Active Cost Networks,” Proceedings of 2013 IEEE MILCOM, November 2013.
Functions (MACF) to realize this vision. We also demonstrated 11. Z. Lu and H. Yang “Unlocking the Power of OPNET Modeler”,
MACF’s effectiveness via OPNET simulation. In this new Cambridge University Press, 2012.
12. S. Chuang, M. Wang, S. A. Davidson, and B. Liu, “Achieving
architecture, the link access protocols, such as PPPoE with Credit- Dynamic Load Distribution and Balancing in Tactical
Based Extension, R2CP, DLEP, can constantly monitor the Communications Networks,” Accepted. To appear in the 2017 IEEE
network topology and link quality, and report the link status to the SCOReD.
Network Layer. By employing MACF routing, routers will 13. Pocy-Based Routing, White Paper, Cisco Systems.
14. C. Anderson, “MIL SATCOM Joint Programs” AIAA, April, 2010.
incorporate the latest topology and link attributes enabling them to
simultaneously generate optimal routes for applications with very
different traffic characteristics. Thus, a router can route packets

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