Lightweight and portable: The Cheetah 3 battlefield radio


Namibian radio specialist Sat-Com has been selling its Cheetah lightweight and portable wideband VHF/UHF radio for many years now, with the radio currently in its third iteration.

The Cheetah, in service with the Namibia Defence Force (NDF) is ideal for missions that require a small, portable yet capable radio. The 2.4 kg manpack radio offers continuous communication from 30 Mhz up to 512 Mhz in all modes. Voice communication is available through a standard headset or the integrated microphone and speaker. The radio includes numerous standard waveforms that conforms to NATO and U.S. military standards, allowing interoperability with other systems.

To cater for increased mobility the modem and GPS receiver are incorporated in the radio. The integrated GPS receiver and antenna provides the user and commander time and position information which can be viewed in the field for enhanced situational awareness. The GPS position transmission can be encrypted to protect whereabouts and locations.

Like other Sat-Com radios, the Cheetah 3 features encryption and frequency hopping (up to 600 hops per second) for secure communications. With the optional enhanced internal modem, Secure Digital Voice with customer own generated AES256 Key will ensure highest levels of communication security. The modem allows secure military tactical messaging, chat, email and situational awareness over the radio link. Depending on the waveform selected, data rates of up to 96 kbps can be obtained.

With the MessagePoint or CommandPoint application, tactical chat between all radios is possible using the radio keypad, data terminal or any Windows operating tablet, PC or laptop.

Weighing just 2.4 kg, the Cheetah is one of the lightest wideband handheld radios on the market today. It is also rugged, complying to MIL-STD-810G specifications. It is milled from high-grade aluminium and covered with an epoxy coat, with the ability to withstand immersion in three metres of water. The standard battery offers an operational time of more than 50 hours.

The Cheetah 3 radio is suitable for portable, mobile, base station and repeater applications. When cross connected to either another Cheetah 3 or a Leopard 1 radio it becomes the VHF/UHF side of the repeater for very large coverage areas of up to 50 km.

With the Cheetah 3 and Leopard 1 radios, Sat-Com covers the entire range of military requirements, including ground, air and naval communications. The manpack Leopard, which is in service with the Namibian Defence Force, offers frequency-hopping communications in the HF, VHF, and UHF bands, an unusual feature in a military radio. Other HF radio manufactures will only cover up to 30 or 60 MHz frequency, whereas the Leopard covers a frequency range from 1.6 MHz up to 512 MHz. The Leopard can transmit data as well as digital voice, which prevent eavesdropping, and also offers blue force tracking capabilities. Requiring only one radio to communicate from ground to air is unique, whereas the competitors need three radios to do the same.

Sat-Com does not just provide radios; its product range includes base stations, amplifiers, antennas etc. Its main market has been the Namibia Defence Force, but has been selling more radios outside the country and is looking to further increase exports. It envisions the international market growing, with increasing demand for modern radio communications replacing old outdated inventory. Sat-Com recently had three Africa tenders come its way and another three tenders from the Far East.

Sat-Com can help customers develop or co-develop their own communications products and supply the necessary hardware and software – technology transfer and co-development/production options are available.

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