13 September 2010
EM Solutions' battle command-on-the-move Ka band communications system was recently demonstrated at Enoggera, aboard a Bushmaster PMV. (photo : ADM)
Implicit in the achievement of the networked battlespace is access to bandwidth and the transfer of data on a scale that may have seemed unthinkable even a decade or so ago.
The introduction of battle management systems for mounted and dismounted infantry in battle groups, and C2 systems for artillery and armoured regiments, is possible only because of the availability of fast data transfer systems below the brigade level, able to handle and process their multi-dimensional information requirements.
But despite the advantages of the high-capacity digital combat radios that the ADF is acquiring for the networking of deployed battle groups, their VHF/UHF voice and data networks are limited by terrain and range.
Full coverage of the battlespace must necessarily rely on radio relays, such as those deployed on UAVs, and of course satellite communications.
And one aspect of the latter, in which the DSTO has shown considerable interest, is military command-on-the-move via satellite, whereby commanders in vehicles can receive and transmit satellite feeds while moving.
Queensland firm EM Solutions, a specialist designer in the telecommunications sector, in 2008 won a CTD contract for battle command-on-the-move Ka band communications.
We understand the system was recently demonstrated at Enoggera, aboard a Bushmaster PMV.
Presumably the CTD was able to demonstrate broadband satellite feeds directly into battle group and below command vehicles, while on the move as distinct from mobile satcom ‘at-the-halt’.
There are of course significant advantages in having robust beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) communications available on and behind the battlespace.
Broadband satcom, as promised by the WGS capability, will be able to deliver data, voice and video directly down to battle group and lower echelon commanders.
This CTD, which is properly C2-on-the-move (C2OTM) will provide tactical commanders with important new capabilities, especially in fast-moving counter insurgency or similar operations.
Assuming command vehicles could be operating close to or within hostile territory, a major challenge for EMS (and their teaming partner BAE Systems Australia) would have been to design a low-profile antenna that could provide continuous connectivity in conditions where commercial terminals could be expected to fail, providing up to 1 Mbps continuous data rates for command elements on the move.
The antenna must be able to automatically and rapidly recover from signal blockages due to buildings, terrain or foliage or weather and other atmospheric conditions (Ka Band is susceptible to attenuation from rain).
Since the WGS provides multiple steerable spotbeams including diplex antennas, direct communication via satellite between vehicles or battle group headquarters will be possible, or the satellite feed could be distributed via high-speed modems to mobile ‘subscribers’ or through IP networks accessible by high data capacity combat radio systems, such as those being acquired under Land 200 and JP 2072.