3 August 2017

short bit-analysis of a STANAG-4538 LDLn transfer (BW3 bursts)

Each LDLn transfer consists of a TX Frame consisting of one data packet; A data packet is defined as a fixed-length sequence of n-byte data segment (n = 32,64,96,...,512) followed by a 17-bit Sequence Number plus an 8-bit Control Field (presently unused), both added by the LDL protocol. Each TX Frame is sent using burst waveform BW3.
During the construction of BW3, a 32-bit Cyclic Redundancy Check (CRC) value is computed across the  data bits of each data packet (8n+25 bits) and is then appended to the data packet. Then, 7 flush bits having the value 0 are appended to the data packet with CRC (8n+57 bits) to ensure that the encoder is in the all-zero state upon encoding the last flush bit. Sumarizing, the on-air length of a LDLn burst is given by:

total on-air LDLn bits (n = 32,64,96,...,512) = 8n + 64
That said, we can go back to the original datagram by inspecting the last 64 bits (17-bit Sequence Number + 8-bit Control Field + 32-bit CRC + 7 flush bits) of the ten BW3 bursts  (Fig. 1):

Fig. 1
 Some aspects must be first considered:

a) the 8-bit reserved field is added after the CRC field and not after the Sequence Number, as specified in Annex C to STANAG-4538; I don't know if it's the modus operandi of the decoder;
b)  following the last bit of the Payload field-value, the bits of the Sequence Number field are transmitted starting with the least significant bit (bit 0) rather than the most significant bit (bit 16). Most likely it's the modus operandi of the decoder, as above;
c) as in the Sequence Number of HDL Tx frames (see the previous post), the bits 14-6 of the first packet in datagram contain the number of user bytes in packet -1 and this contrasts what specified in Table; it depends on the particular STANAG-4538 implementation?

In this sample the values of the Packet Number fields are: 0,0,1,1,2,2,3,3,4,4: maybe the destination station requested a retransmissions or, most likely, each TX Frame is sent twice so to improve the reliability of the transfer (also note the values of the CRC fields). Correspondly, the Packet Byte Count fileds are: 128,128,...,67,67, this means it's a LDL128 transfer.
Note that the bytes contained in the packet #4 is less than 128 bytes because it includes the last data byte of the original datagram (the remaining 128-67 bytes are filled with "0" value bytes). That said, the original datagram of this sample is composed of the single packet numbers 0,1,2,3,4 (ie BW3 #0, #2, #4, #6, #8) and its length is (128 x 4) + 67 = 579 bytes (Fig. 2); the receive station shall discard the duplicated packet numbers.

It's worth noting that in this sample there are no BW4 ACK bursts returned back: it could be an MDL (Multicast Data Link protocol) transmission or maybe I did not heard these bursts!

Fig. 2
Back to the whole bitstream, once structured in a 1088-bit period ((8 x 128) + 64), the original datagram can be extracted by isolating the firts 4 rows and removing the overhead bytes: the resulting is an HARRIS "Citadel" encrypted file (Fig. 3).
Fig. 3
The ten LDL128 bursts, the retransmitted packets, and the "0" value bytes fillers can be noted looking at the whole bitstream in Figure 4.

Fig. 4

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