DSEi 2011: US warfighters set to receive Iridium upgrade
Dismounted US forces operating in Afghanistan are set to receive the latest upgrade to ITT's Netted Iridium RO and C2 tactical radios, Iridium Communications have revealed.
Speaking to Shephard at DSEi on 15 September, company executives said the Phase III upgrade would extend the radio system's range yet further from its current 200-250 mile radius by up to 300%. However, they were unable to comment on when the software upgrades would be implemented.
In its original form, the RO radio boasted a range radius of 100 miles but a Phase II upgrade, which began in 2010, saw this more than doubled. A total of around 6,500 systems have been fielded to the US Marine Corps and other units in Afghanistan in order to provide secure voice and data communications for dispersed soldiers.
According to Iridium, the systems rely on low-earth orbiting, non-geostationary Iridium satellite constellation. It is thought the Phase III upgrade incorporated the utilisation of satellite crosslinks.
Additionally, an ITT spokesperson said the company was also planning on integrating a mapping attachment called 'RO Map'. This is designed to improve a warfighter's situation awareness although the spokesperson was unable to provide more details.
The RO Tactical Radio relies on the Distributed Tactical Communications System architecture and the Defense Information Systems Agency's Enhanced Mobile Satellite Service.
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