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Why NATO Forces Need Software Defined Radios

As regular readers of Modern combat space be well aware that ensuring the interoperability of all our military radio stations is a critical communication issue that needs to be addressed. Software defined radio stations (SDR) can make interoperability a reality in the long run, while incorporating other advances in embedded cryptology, processing power and AI.

In the meantime, however, the lack of interoperability poses real challenges on the ground for troops on the ground, and this shows the urgency with which the Ministry of Defense needs to develop and implement the next generation of SDRs.

Shortly before retiring in 2017, Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, then commander of the United States Army in Europe, lamented the lack of secure, interoperable field radios among U.S. troops and their NATO allies. US Army Association Event. “They can’t even talk for sure,” he said.

This has obvious implications for operational efficiency. Because the United States regularly deploys troops in agreement with as many Allies in as close an alliance as NATO, the European theater is extremely vulnerable to this loophole in our communications networks. Not to mention that so many of our NATO allies have also deployed their troops with ours around the world, from Ethiopia to Afghanistan.

When deployed in the field, NATO allies, whether our British, French or Polish or Romanian allies, must be able to coordinate to a tactical level: team leaders must coordinate movement, direct support from Allied aircraft, and and a number of vital, nut-and-bolt war-making functions that Allied fighters in the increasingly tense AoR simply need to be able to talk about.

According to a recent article on Military.com however, the BBC Research Laboratory is making progress in developing SDRs that could improve this problem. According to Michael Gudatis, chief engineer at the Air Force Research Laboratory, the SDRs being developed will use flexible software to “ultimately enable all combatants and machines to communicate with each other” compared to the current state of radio stations, where U.S. and US Allied troops “Can all use the same frequency”, but even then, “they still can’t talk to each other.”

Thomas Schamberger, Collins Aerospace Air Communications Manager, extended these benefits to recent article“A key advantage is the ability to host multifunction capabilities such as waveforms, built-in cryptology and greater internal processing power, which provides real-time communication around the battlefield,” he said. “Marry this with advanced navigation and precise synchronization and GPS progress, and the fighter now has the most accurate method of communication available today. The ability to immediately adapt to the changing needs of the battlefield is also a by-product of SDR radios, “Chamberger continued.

However, software-controlled radio is far more malleable. The software, Gudatis notes, is “literally like an application.” Install the right one and that’s right, you have a radio that you can use to talk to whoever you need to talk to.

However, this does not mean that there are no problems. The cost of any new military radio built to be durable on the battlefield will cost “two to three times more” than its commercial counterpart and, of course, provide cybersecurity, while being flexible enough to allow radio calls from anyone. being from 29 NATO member states will be a significant challenge for developers.

Due to the difficulties associated with building the next generation of SDRs, Gudatis estimated that the SDR could officially launch the program as a recording program in three years.

Despite the critical need of our troops for tactical communication with other NATO troops, it can be said that progress cannot come quickly enough.

To read more about advances in SDR technology, read ours Analysis of the impact of software-defined radio stations on modern military communications

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