March Radio Roundup

Elbit Systems Synch Communications System
A set of ruggedised smartphones running Elbit’s SYNCH software application. SYNCH has been used by volunteers from Israel’s United Hatzalah medical organisation who have assisted relief efforts in the wake of the 6th February earthquake hitting Syria and Turkey.

Armada’s monthly roundup of all the latest news in the military communications product, programme and operational domains.

SYNCH Saves Lives

The SYNCH communications system, developed by Elbit Systems, is assisting the work of the United Hatzalah volunteer medical organisation. United Hatzalah members deployed to Turkey following the earthquake that devastated the southeast of the country on 6th February. A press release from Elbit said that SYNCH assisted the communications and management of United Hatzalah’s work. SYNCH is a software application equipping standard smartphones carried across standard cellular networks. The application provides maps to United Hatzalah teams and conveys voice, data, photo and video traffic. The press release says SYNCH can turn a smartphone “into a combination of a walkie-talkie, WhatsApp, navigation and mapping device … all in one application.” Traffic is also shared with the organisation’s headquarters in the field coordinating the assistance. Furthermore, SYNCH provides backhaul to United Hatzalah’s headquarters in Israel. “All the smartness is done by servers in the cloud,” says a written statement Elbit gave to Armada.

The statement adds that “each rescuer has the SYNCH app installed on a special ruggedised phone. This way they are fully accessible by anyone else in the team and by the control centre in Jerusalem.” They “constantly exchange voice, pictures and live video with the control centre, where they get lots of professional help by doctors and other experts in specific areas” via this link. Volunteers’ locations are shown on a map visible on each person’s phone and at the control centre. This means the “team can be easily managed in such a chaotic environment.” The mission coordinator can create points of interest on the map, directing people towards them. This is important in an environment where there maybe no building numbers, street names or detailed addresses as coordinates. Quick alerts like ‘panic button’, ‘person down’, ‘lone worker’ and ‘safe/unsafe zone’ can also be shared: “All are massively important in such situations,” the statement concluded.

Base Communications

Lumen Technologies announced on 2nd February via a press release it had won a contract worth $223 million from the US Defence Information Systems Agency. The press release said the company will provide “secure, mission-critical communications services” to the US Department of Defence (DOD). Lumen will furnish voice communications using cloud computing. Voice over internet protocol services and audio conferencing also form part of the provision. These services will be provided using an integrated phone system carried by Lumen’s fibre optic network. The company told Armada via a written statement that these communications will be implemented at DOD facilities within and beyond the US. The contract has a base performance period of one year, with three additional one-year options and a potential six-month extension, the statement continued.

French Navy SATCOM

Thales announced in early February it is furnishing the Marine Nationale (French Navy) with new Satellite Communications (SATCOM) capabilities using France’s Syracuse-4 satellite constellation. The first spacecraft in the series, Syracuse-4A, was launched on 24th October 2021. A total of three satellites will comprise the constellation, all of which should be launched by 2025 according to media reports. Thales told Armada in a written statement it would supply its SurfSAT-L SATCOM terminals. These will outfit large- and medium-sized surface combatants. Smaller vessels will have SurfSAT-S terminals. The French Navy’s submarine fleet will receive Thales’ DiveSAT system. All these terminals carry X-band (7.9 gigahertz/GHz to 8.4GHz uplink/7.25GHz to 7.75GHz downlink) and Ka-band (26.5GHz to 40GHz uplink/18GHz to 20GHz downlink) links. This means they can use other constellations carrying X-band and Ka-band traffic alongside Syracuse-4.

Thales SurfSAT-L SATCOM Terminal
Thales’ SurfSAT-L SATCOM terminal handles X-band and Ka-band traffic. These terminals are being installed across the French Navy’s large surface combatant fleet for use with the Syracuse-4 constellation.

PacStar Packs a Punch

Curtiss-Wright has unveiled new PacStar Radio Chassis models designed to accommodate either three or four radios. The chassis are “designed to speed and simplify the integration and deployment of heterogeneous radio types,” the company said in a press release. Three radios are housed in the PacStar Powered 3-Radio Chassis and four in the PacStar Unpowered 4-Radio Chassis. Each radio is mounted in a specific bracket according to its type. A written statement provided to Armada by the company said that brackets are available for an array of tactical radios in routine service with militaries around the world. The chassis are designed to avoid gaps in communications resulting from several different radio types being used across one area. For example, when responding to a humanitarian emergency first responders and the military may all be using different radio types. Examples of each radio can be loaded into the chassis and connected to the company’s PacStar 463 radio-over-internet protocol system. This lets traffic move between the radios and hence between their associated networks. This is also relevant on the battlefield. Deployed land forces may be using several different radio types particularly during coalition operations.

Curtiss-Wright PacStar Radio Chassis
Curtiss-Wright’s PacStar Radio Chassis can accommodate between three and four disparate radios, according to its configuration. This eases the movement of radio traffic between disparate transceivers and their accompanying networks.

by Dr. Thomas Withington

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