Israel company targets opportunities in Europe and Asia for software-defined radios
Israeli defense giant Rafael will target armies in Asia and Europe with its software-defined radios, based on growing demand for digital communications systems.
With programs already underway in Germany and India, the company offers its BNET family of radios through partnerships with companies in half a dozen European markets – in order to maintain market share from L3Harris, Thales, Leonardo and Israel’s Elbit Systems.
Joav Vermouth, head of Raphael’s communications department (C3) and former head of research and development, says BNET can be integrated into various platforms with existing architectures and systems. Integration is achieved through local partnerships, as has been done in India, or working with Spanish Technobit, which provides the industrial and manufacturing solution with Rafael’s software and radio.
The company is now looking for a local partner in the UK.
“We have several forms of radio to be compatible with platforms from aircraft to tanks, and integration is easy because we support standard interfaces,” Vermouth said. Older vehicles may need re-wiring, along with the addition of computers, which is one of the improvements that Rafael supports in India.
“When integrated into a new tank, the tank supplier has a modern architecture to join, and there are some industry standards over the last decade that facilitate interfaces and protocols,” he added.
Raphael’s BNET has a broadband IP aircraft radio (BNET-AR), a human-packed system (BNET-MPS), a vehicle (BNET-V) and a handheld model (BNET-HH). The system allows for multiple radio stations and networks without tactical communication difficulties, Vermouth said. In short: There are no more jeeps with dozens of antennas, but rather one radio.
“You connect every force, whether it’s a soldier, a vehicle, an airplane or a drone,” he said. “If you take a current software-specific radio, such as a tactical one, you get 1 megabyte per second; on BNET you can do 100 times more. “
Many military are lagging behind rapid advances in civilian communications infrastructure, thanks in part to the success of applications such as WhatsApp for smartphones, according to Rafael officials. They are now playing catch-up, with Israel in the midst of a major digital upgrade with its five-year Momentum program, which includes Rafael’s BNET technology and Fire Weaver to reduce sensor time to firing. The same technology was chosen when Germany hired Raphael and Athos in December 2019 for a demonstration of a “glass battlefield”.
“Today, the military is conservative and needs to go through transformative thinking to change the way it carries out its mission, as happens in civilian life,” Vermouth said.
In addition, providing a new communication system for the military requires addressing three challenges: the lack of infrastructure when deployed in the field, the need to work in harsh conditions, and the need to provide security against e-war threats, according to Raphael. These challenges have been addressed with the Israeli Defense Forces, which the company hopes will be a selling point for foreign troops seeking improvements in improving communications. technology.
In addition to the demonstration in Germany, Rafael won a $ 30 million contract with the Indian Air Force, signed with local joint venture Astra Rafael Comsys Pvt Ltd, which could eventually reach $ 200 million, according to the company. The potential is far greater if the program is expanded to equip the entire Indian Air Force. Rafael works as part of India’s demand to produce products locally, building a local production footprint through joint ventures and local companies. He plans to compete for the Indian Army’s huge 100,000 radio network when it becomes available.
Working with Germany also provides a step in the door to work with the Tactical Edge network plan, which envisions Germany and the Netherlands working together on tactical communications. This can combine the D-LBO systems of the Bundeswehr and the FOXTROT systems of the Dutch Ministry of Defense and is a multibillion-dollar program. A request for proposal (RFP) is expected next year.
“There is now an influx of digitalisation programs in Europe,” Vermouth said, referring to Spain, where the country is seeking a complete overhaul of tactical communications. Tenders for the army and air force of about $ 1 billion are expected. Rafael hopes to work with the Spanish company Technobit, with which he has worked before, to supply weapons stations with remote control to the Spanish army. The company demonstrated BNET to Spanish employees from the Ministry of Defense. In Britain, Raphael hopes to play a role in the Morpheus program for the next generation of tactical communications for the British Armed Forces.
In Australia, the company monitors Land 200 program, which is also estimated at $ 1 billion for digitization.