DSEi 2011: GDC4S unveils pathfinder tactical radio
General Dynamics C4 Systems (GDC4S) is unveiling its Pathfinder tactical radio at DSEi this week in a bid to fill a gap in the market between personal role radios and ‘higher-end tactical mesh-type systems’, company officials have revealed.
Speaking to Shephard ahead of the event, GDC4S director strategy and emerging business for secure technology, Joe Miller said personal role radios currently offered a ‘valued capability at squad level’ but lacked any networking capacity.
‘For networking capabilities, [users] need to take a giant leap in expense,’ he explained. ‘There are some emerging networking radios for example and there is interest in the US to upgrade other systems to “mesh” capability.’ Such upgrades are being considered for the Harris AN/PRC-152A multi-band handheld radio and Thales MBITR.
Capable of providing voice and data, the handheld Pathfinder is designed for ‘squad type applications’, providing a mobile ad-hoc networking (MANET) capability which Miller claimed ‘doesn’t exist today’.
The 0.61lb Pathfinder provides up to 18 hours battery life and will allow a single radio to ‘mesh’ network up to 32 radios while also providing position location information. It also boasts gateway options for communications with other networks for VHF/UHF, IP, SATCOM and GSM.
‘We are just unveiling [Pathfinder] to different organisations within the [US] DoD and we think there will be interest from special operations and the US Marine Corps,’ Miller told Shephard.
He added that GDC4S is also marketing Pathfinder as a coalition radio and said: ‘Interoperability has been a problem across the allies for a long time. The whole world is looking at MANET’.
‘We think the core army will stay with JTRS and we are now responding to major programme RfIs in Sweden, the UK and Canada. There are a number of next-generation tactical radio [programmes] where we see a fit for this,’ he added.
Sweden has already released an RfI for its Inter and Intra Group Communications (IGR) programme and Canada is beginning to study ‘aspects of next generation architecture’, he described. In addition, Miller said a ‘networking radio initiative’ remained in the UK coming on the back of the FIST programme. ‘That initiative is still there,’ he stated.
The company is also considering putting the radio forward for the US Army’s Network Integration Evaluation programme with Miller adding that there were also potential to integrate the radio into JTRS via a gateway structure.
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