Thales to conduct future military communications study
Thales has been selected by the European Defence Agency (EDA) to conduct a study of the main terrestrial and satellite communication network programmes in European Union countries: FUCOM (for future communications). The conclusions of the study will assist in the pairing of available communications resources with the requirements of European Union forces.
The FUCOM project will compile, in the area of military communications, an inventory of the main member states’ existing and future assets, including military satellite communication systems, terrestrial tactical communications (software-defined radio), PMR (professional mobile radio) and LTE (long-term evolution) capabilities. On the basis of this inventory, the FUCOM project will then propose ways of combining available resources to provide European Union forces with the systems they would need to conduct various types of missions.
According to Thales, wireless communications need to be harmonised in order to ensure interoperability in a context where few frequency bands are available. EU member states have tended to address this issue in a piecemeal approach, through a varying array of developments and standards that are not always compatible with each other. This has resulted in a loss of overall efficiency and has made it increasingly difficult for forces to cooperate on multinational operations. It also increases the risk of reliance on third-party nations, particularly the United States, for certain interoperable assets or resources.
The FUCOM project will issue a set of recommendations based on the existing and future systems of EU member states, and will specify the technical and operational resources and technological solutions needed to ensure a cohesive capability.
The FUCOM project will comprise four phases. The first will cover the identification of operational scenarios and capability requirements, including an inventory of the main existing space-based communication systems (Syracuse in France, Skynet 5 in the United Kingdom, Sicral in Italy, etc.) and terrestrial systems (software-defined radio projects such as Contact in France, etc.).
This will be followed by a technical characterisation of the communication systems needed to support these operational scenarios. Possible future capability gaps will then be identified, and finally, the radio frequency spectrum will be analysed to determine which frequency bands are available.
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