What next-generation radios mean for enhanced military operations


As legacy combat net radios (CNRs) approach their end of service life, modern armed forces seek next-generation tactical communications devices to provide personnel with transformational capabilities.

According to Bittium’s Vice President for Defence and Security, Harri Romppainen, while many armed forces still operate legacy CNRs, the transition to SDR technology is inevitable.

‘Armies need new tactical communications capability with wideband waveforms; maximum levels in data throughput; availability of Internet Protocol [IP] networks; and requirement for interoperability with partners,’ Romppainen explained.

As Finland’s national champion in tactical communications, Bittium already supplies SDR technologies for example to the Finnish Defence Forces (FDF), Estonian Defence Forces (EDF), and Austrian Armed Forces, which require modern performance to enable the required network services and interoperability with European and NATO partners.

In 2017, Bittium signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) with the FDF regarding the purchase of new tactical radios. The LoI made it clear that next-generation tactical radios would be ‘unique in their performance in leading the mobile troops and forming the situation awareness on the battlefield’.

Next-level performance for operational effectiveness

Bittium’s solutions include the Tough SDR Handheld and Tough SDR Vehicular, both operating in the 30-2500MHz frequency band and offering data throughput up to 26 Mbps.

Waveforms currently available for integration include the broadband Bittium TAC WIN Waveform and ESSOR High Data Rate Waveform, as well as Bittium Narrowband Waveform for robust messaging and voice capability for longer range communications.

‘The uniquely wide range of frequency bands improves combat usability and enables using the same equipment in different geographical areas. Using several waveforms, even simultaneously with the 2-channel Vehicular radio, improves compatibility and enables operations on different levels and missions,’ Romppainen added.

The deliveries of the Tough SDRs to the FDF have started and preparations are ongoing for the volume field roll-out to replace legacy Tadiran CNRs.

Interoperability at its best

Bittium is also employing Tough SDRs to support interoperability tests with the ESSOR High Data Rate Waveform alongside other ESSOR national champions.

Finland was one of the first ESSOR members to successfully complete national approval tests in the first half of 2021. Previously, ESSOR’s first PTT call was successfully conducted at Bittium’s test facility in Kajaani in 2020, connecting ‘tens’ of nodes from multiple sovereign SDRs.

Tough SDR Handheld can also be connected to Bittium’s Tough Mobile 2 tactical LTE smartphone, which can meet the stringent tactical and security requirements of dismounted units.

Featuring the Bittium Secure Suite, which includes VPN and Mobile Device and Application Management, Tough Mobile 2 supports end-to-end encrypted communications.

Connected over Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Ethernet or USB, Tough Mobile 2 displays specialist C2/BMS software, including SitaWare or the Android Tactical Assault Kit (ATAK).

This capability is crucial as it allows platoon and squad members to send messages and observe a common operating picture anywhere on the battlefield and at any time.

Multi-domain solutions

Bittium Tough SDRs support multi-domain operations on land and at sea, networked to surface vessels via the TAC WIN wideband waveform.

‘Naval forces often operate with HF and VHF solutions that can only support voice and narrowband and non-IP data,’ Romppainen explained.

‘To achieve real-time situation awareness and seamless command chain, the communication system must be able to transmit broadband data from any IP network node to the operations and command centre and back via self-forming and healing networks.

‘These requirements are met with Bittium’s modular, software-defined and interoperable IP-based communications products and systems, including TAC WIN and Tough SDRs.’

Learn more here.

Bittium will showcase its solutions at Eurosatory, Hall 6 / Stand H300.