March Radio Roundup

L3Harris performed tests of its DPAAS phased array satellite communications system in Alaska in October 2023. The company told Armada DPAAS is currently at Technology Readiness Level-7 denoting that a prototype has been demonstrated in an operational environment.

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

DPAAS Evolves

L3Harris announced in early February that it had demonstrated a digital phased array antenna system for satellite communications. The demonstration took place in Fairbanks, Alaska in October 2023 and involved the company’s Digital Beamforming Phased-Array Antenna System (DPAAS). During the three-month long initiative, DPAAS handled circa 300 satellite contacts daily, including eight simultaneous contacts. The company told Armada, via a written statement, that DPAAS established contacts with over 90 satellites. These included international meteorology satellites and US spacecraft. Defence applications for DPAAS “may include any mission requiring satellite command and control and/or downlink telemetry and mission data reception from many simultaneous satellites,” the statement said. Work continues to reduce the overall size, weight, power and cost of DPAAS. These objectives should be met by the end of this year. Production and delivery schedules are then “dependent on customer budgets and mission schedules.”

New Radios Support ACE Concept

The United States Air Force’s (USAF) Air Mobility Command (AMC) is receiving Persistent Systems’ MPU5 tactical radios, the company announced in late January. Under the terms of the $5.1 million contract Persistent Systems will supply over 280 MPU5s, along with ten Integrated Sector Antennas. The latter allows MPU5 coverage to be extended over a large area. These systems will be deployed by the AMC’s 621st and 821st Contingency Response Groups (CRGs) to support the USAF’s Agile Combat Employment (ACE) initiative. The ACE concept focuses on the air force rapidly deploying and securing foreign airstrips in host countries. The Persistent Systems press release disclosed that the USAF currently uses legacy handheld radios which cannot share video or imagery in a similar fashion to the MPU5. The Integrated Sector Antenna is typically “pole- or tower-mounted,” the company told Armada in a written statement: “It utilises various antenna polarities to maximise throughput to the MPU5s within its coverage range.” Meanwhile, “the high-bandwidth, easy-to-use, ad hoc nature of the MPU5s and Integrated Sector Antennas allow the CRGs to command and control US Air Force operations in austere and remote locations, as well as with partner nation forces.”

New Terminals

The US Department of Defence has emerged as the first customer for Ovzon’s new T7 Satellite Communications (SATCOM) terminal. According to the company’s official literature, the terminal transmits data at speeds of up to ten megabits-per-second/mbps. Data is received at speeds of 60mbps. A waveband of 12.76 gigahertz/GHz to 13.25GHz is used for transmission. Signals are received on frequencies of 10.70GHz to 11.45GHz. The T7 weighs 2.8 kilograms (6.2 pounds). Ovzon told Armada in a written statement that “pound-to-pound, megabits-by-megabits the Ovzon T7 is the smallest, lightest and highest-performing mobile satellite terminal on the market.” The terminal can be used for communications across the company’s Ovzon-3 satellite and work with Ovzon’s legacy SATCOM networks. The terminal’s on-board processor enables “operations in GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) denied environments, (permits) obfuscated traffic patterns to prevent enemy interception, (has) a very low signal-to-noise ration mode for operations requiring low probability of interception and (provides) detection and full mesh networking supporting ultra-small terminals in scenarios where ground-based teleports are unavailable.”

Ovzon T7 SATCOM Terminal
he US Department of Defence is the first customer for Ovzon’s new T7 satellite communications terminal. The system operates on wavebands of 10.7GHz to 13.25GHz handling data at speeds of between ten and 60 megabits-per-second.

by Dr. Thomas Withington