Android Tactical Assault Kit

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The Android Tactical Assault Kit (ATAK) is an Android smartphone geo-spatial infrastructure app built using NASA World Wind. The app's human interface intent is to provide warfighters "up-to-the second understanding of what’s going on around them."[1]

Initially created in 2010,[2][3] and based on the NASA WorldWind Mobile codebase its development and deployment has grown slowly.[4] It is also known as the "Android Team Awareness Kit" and incorrectly reported as the "Android Terminal Assault Kit."[5][6][7]

While ATAK has been fielded, it also remains an active research program at AFRL.

A typical ATAK screen

Civilian & Military capabilities (available in the public/licensed version) include:

  • Online and offline mapping (most standard formats), with a fast rendering engine
  • Web Browser, JavaScript, API
  • Collaborative mapping, including points, drawings, locations of interest, kml, maps
  • Location marking, sharing, history,
  • Chat, file sharing, photo sharing, video sharing, streaming
  • Navigation (walking/hiking, driving, also useful for some flying)
  • Altitude profiling between locations, routes w/ DTED, SRTM
  • Cell phone, WiFi, civilian radio controls, interface
  • Skydiving tool (w/winds for better prediction)
  • Hunting, Fishing, Ornithology, Wildlife Site Survey

Military unique capabilities (for US military users only) include:

  • Site Survey Tool
  • Targeting
  • Mensuration (precise geo-location)
  • Runway Survey Tools
  • Military radio controls, messages, interface

Plugin Architecture

ATAK has a plugin architecture which allows developers to add functionality to ATAK.

Polaris integrated its Ground Guidance software into an ATAK Plugin to allow on and off-road routing for mounted and dismounted soldiers, accounting for terrain, weather, enemy activity and equipment load.[8]

Although often used with LTE connections to a TAK server in a server/client architecture, the ATAK platform is often integrated with off-grid communications radios via plugins as well. These vary from traditional military radios, to commercially available off-the-shelf digital radios system such as goTenna. When employed, these radios allow ATAK to operate in a peer-to-peer serverless fashion enabling front-line operators to maintain situational awareness and command/control at the team level without any reliance on outside infrastructure which may often be unavailable or compromised.

Connections to other programs

ATAK began in August, 2010 and was originally based on NASA's WorldWind Mobile. The goal was to demonstrate robust information sharing in a mobile format. Oct 14, 2014 U.S. Army Geospatial Center recommended AFRL's Android Tactical Assault Kit (ATAK), over the world-leader Esri's Commercial Joint Mapping Tool Kit (CJMTK), NASA's World Wind, and the Army's Globe Engine (AGE) for map engine driving the Nett Warrior End User Device. ATAK was selected due to similar capabilities with CJMTK, similar risk, and less than one-third the total cost. Read the full, public released report Nett Warrior Map Engine Trade Study.

In September, 2015, DARPA reported that ATAK was used in a successful demonstration of the Persistent Close Air Support Program, and is in use by thousands of users.

According to a January, 2016 article in National Defense Magazine, "[ATAK] has already been fielded to AFSOC units".

Because of ATAK's excellent suitability to coordinating people over Geography, ATAK is made available to Federal Government users and their contractors who need such coordination. ATAK is also made available to Government researchers who wish to experiment with geospatial collaboration without building their own systems.

Other Versions

In addition to the Android Version, there is also a Windows version (WinTak) and an iPhone version under development (iTak). WinTAK is an application developed for Microsoft Windows Operating System which uses maps to allow for precise targeting, intelligence on surrounding land formations, navigation, and generalized situational awareness. It was developed in conjuction with ATAK to provide similar functionality on a Windows platform.

Commercial Licensing

In January, 2015, AFRL began licensing ATAK through TechLink to U. S. companies, for commercial use to support state/local government uses as well as civilian uses. As of November 2015, twenty five companies have licensed ATAK for commercial uses (TechLink Licensing site).

For More Information:

Android Tactical Assault Kit (ATAK) Licensing for Tech Transfer & Tech Transition. Briefing. DISTRIBUTION STATEMENT A: Approved for Public Release, Case Number 88ABW-2014-1324

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