From its beginnings as a General Service (GENSER) only version of NSAís Newsdealer system, the Nova has been a resounding success story for both the Information Systems Test Branch (ISTB) and the Navy. Initially fielded as an AUTODIN interface terminal, intended to allow closure of the Navyís Local Digital Message Exchange (LDMX), it has evolved into one of the triad of systems which will significantly decrease the Navyís dependence on the AUTODIN. ISTB personnel have been heavily involved in the testing, on-site training and activation of this system at multiple sites throughout the Navy.
The initial Quality Assurance, Security and Component Approval Process testing was completed at the JITCís Test Facility in Cheltenham, Maryland in 1994 and the first system was brought on-line in early 1995. An aggressive activation schedule allowed the final LDMX system to be retired in 1996 with the final Nova being activated in early 1997. Throughout this process, this branch provided on-site training, both for system operators and administrators, and verified that system installation was within documented specifications and that all required connectivity could be established and maintained.
To further increase the effectiveness of the Nova, a "Hub Site" concept was developed by the ISTB branch and accepted by the Navy. This showed the dependence on AUTODIN could be reduced by re-homing individual Nova systems from AUTODIN to regional Nova Hubs, located at each of the Navyís three Area Master Stations. The Hub sites retain their AUTODIN connectivity to allow record message traffic to flow between the three regions and between the Navy and other Services and agencies. ISTB personnel were on-site to develop cut-over and Hub Site activation plans, coordinate the procedural requirements involved in the cut-over and to assist in the actual activation of the Hub Sites.
The latest enhancement to the Nova system, the Virtual Circuit Protocol (VCP) interface has successfully completed testing and is operational between the three major Naval Communications Facilities; NCTAMS PAC Honolulu HI, NCTAMS LANT Norfolk VA and NCTAMS EURCENT Naples IT. This enhancement allows the three Nova Hub sites to exchange organizational message traffic between Areas of Responsibility (AORs) using TCP/IP with SIPRNET as the backbone. The VCP is unique in that each message requires an acknowledgment from the receiving station before another message is sent. Should an acknowledgement not be received within 90 seconds from the time of transmission, the sending Nova system will cancel the message and retransmit . This process will continue until an acknowledgement has been received. A Network Encryption System (NES) was also added between the Nova systems and the SIPRNET to allow for organizational messages of all GENSER classifications to be transmitted via the SIPRNET. This action however is awaiting approval from the Joint Chief of Staff (JCS). Presently, all organizational messages immediate and below, Secret through Unclassified pass between AORs via the SIPRNET (via VCP) and not AUTODIN.
ISTB recently implemented the last component to reduce the Navyís dependency on AUTODIN for delivery of Navy generated message traffic destined for Navy commands. With the implementation of the Navy Regional Message Conversion System (MCS), all "SUU" messages that are generated within an AOR will be processed by that regionís MCS system. All "SUU" messages generated within an AOR are to be passed via intermediate systems to the Nova Hub within that region. The Nova Hub has connectivity to the Regional MCS which processes the "SUU" message and returns it to the Nova Hub in a JANAP 128 format. The Nova Hub for that AOR then makes a determination as to whether the message will be delivered to that regionís NAVCOMPARS, a subordinate Nova within that region, another AOR via the SIPRNET or to AUTODIN for delivery to Non Department of the Navy commands.