Digital Battlespace

US Army to trial 'radio-over-satellite' communications

10th September 2018 - 12:00 GMT | by Andrew White


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Spectra Group’s Slingshot appliqué kit has been selected to support the US Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiments (AEWEs) in 2019, company officials have disclosed to Shephard.

Due to be conducted at Fort Benning, Georgia, over the course of the year, AEWE events form part of Spectra Group’s ongoing strategy to expand the operational utility of Slingshot beyond its current employment by special operations forces to more conventional units, BD manager, Billy Bingham confirmed to Shephard.

Tasked with supporting the ‘Mission Command’ element of the AEWE exercises, Slingshot will be used to support ‘radio-over-satellite’ communications to ground force elements provided by the US Army.

According to official documentation provided by the army for AEWE 2019, Slingshot will provide beyond line of sight (BLOS) connectivity and communications on the move (COTM) interoperability to ‘widely dispersed military forces or civilian agencies in austere environments without the delay of deploying terrestrial infrastructure or the operational burden of protecting and sustaining them’.

‘SlingShot is capable of providing a SWaP, BLoS, COTM, interoperable capability with LPI/LPD characteristics which are becoming once again increasingly more of a requirement both for special operations forces and conventional troops, and in particular from a US and NATO perspective,' Bingham explained.

Earlier in the year, Spectra Group crafted a White Paper for the US DoD regarding potential application of Slingshot in support of dismounted and mounted combat forces. Slingshot’s suitability to support coalition and partner nation force (PNF) joint operations was demonstrated by Iraqi special forces over the past year when it was used to facilitate communications with the US force elements including the Security Force Assistance Brigade.

US Army officials also explained to Shephard how the SATCOM appliqué kit provided secure LOS communications; as well as enabling increasing levels of interoperability between US, coalition and PNFs.

'Tactical commanders can expand their C2 footprint across a Geographic Combatant Command,' it was added.

Slingshot comprises a small and lightweight frequency conversion device which allows small units to operate military and commercial VHF/UHF radios over commercial L-band satellite communications. The technology is also able to support COTM for tactical ground vehicles at speeds up to 80mph and comes with an option to integrate encryption services for secure communications.

Initial planning sessions to organise AEWE 2019 are due to begin between 4-5 December, US Army officials confirmed.

Slingshot is available in both UHF and VHF configurations, measuring around 500g and 600g in total weight respectively. Powered by lithium-ion batteries, the unit is capable of running for 24 hours with the option to be carried in manpack form or integrated on board tactical ground vehicles, surface vessels and airborne assets.

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