Marines choose Ancor for a few good switches

Ancor Communications Inc. this month announced a deal with Litton Systems Inc. to introduce fibre channel communications technology into the Defense Department's command and control systems.

The Marine Corps awarded a contract to Litton to upgrade the Marines' military-specification equipment for their mobile command and control system to an off-the-shelf solution that includes Ancor GigWorks fibre channel switches and adapters connecting Sun Microsystems Inc. SPARC workstations to voice communications switches.

Carla Kennedy vice president of marketing at Ancor said the Corps selected fibre channel technology because it provides gigabit-speed transmission while guaranteeing data frame delivery without the need for higher-level protocols such as Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol.

"It's faster than [Asynchronous Transfer Mode] and guarantees delivery with end-to-end flow control " Kenn edy said. "It becomes an important feature for real-time applications when resending is not something they want to deal with because on the battlefield you don't get a second chance."

The deal with Litton is Ancor's second that calls for installation of the company's products for DOD command and control systems. Last year the company which does about 20 percent of its business with the federal government signed a contract with Boeing to use ruggedized versions of its GigWorks switches as part of the upgrade to the Airborne Warning and Command System (AWACS).

Ken Hendrickson chairman and chief executive officer at Ancor said in a statement that the Marine equipment will be used in much the same way as the AWACS installation. "This application involves massive amounts of data that need to be distributed and processed in real time to provide the best possible inputs to guide command decisions " he said. "Clearly fibre channel is a proven performer in these demanding environments."

Maj. Todd Swe eney project officer for the Corps' Tactical Air Operation Center said the Litton contract will upgrade a 10-megabit digital local-area network that handles voice and data traffic. He said the military service chose fibre channel because it will provide the fastest connectivity as well as an ability to transmit increasingly large amounts of data from ballistic missile sensors.

"We need short latency times for considerable amounts of data " Sweeney said. "We are looking at a pretty large amount of airspace."

Sweeney said Litton and Ancor already have installed two prototypes that are running successfully. He added that his organization also has installed the Ancor switch in a new system that will connect the operation center to the DOD-wide Joint Tactical Information Distribution System.

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