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DSEI 2023: How PhantomBlu comms tech could mean an end to radio silence at sea

15th September 2023 - 14:00 GMT | by Alix Valenti in London


Naval forces have nowhere to hide at sea - millimetre-wave communications could put an end to the need to maintain radio silence to avoid detection or interception while supporting high data rates for C2 purposes. (Photo: UK MoD/Crown Copyright)

Blu Wireless's PhantomBlu millimetre-wave communications nodes could put an end to the need to maintain radio silence to avoid detection or interception while supporting high data rates for C2 purposes.

Blu Wireless, a provider of ultra-fast and seamless 5G mmWave solutions, took advantage of DSEI 2023 to announce PhantomBlu, an integrated LPD V-band radio node delivering 360° communications coverage.

'The key problem we are trying to solve is today’s communications' vulnerability to interception because of their electromagnetic signature,' Mark Barrett, chief commercial officer at Blu Wireless, told Shephard

'When you face peer and near-peer adversaries on the battlefield, who have the means to intercept your communications, how do you digitise the battlefield and ensure C2?'

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For navies this problem is particularly prominent because, contrary to land forces who can use the environment and topography to their advantage to conceal themselves, ships cannot hide anywhere. 

'The easiest solution for navies in such cases has often been radio silence,' Macy Summers, president and CEO of Blu Wireless told Shephard.

“MMW (millimetre-wave) communications allow them to achieve something similar because we use physics to our advantage: we can turn the power down to where it is equivalent to radio silence and yet we can still work at up to 100m,' he added.

MMW radio uses frequencies above 30GHz, and Blu Wireless’ technology uses frequencies of 57-71GHz, resulting in communications that feature a very narrow beam that is very difficult to detect and jam but nevertheless allows wideband data sharing. 

'MMW technology enables C2 applications that give armed forces situational awareness and the ability to communicate in case they need to change their tactics or if they need to call for support,' Summers commented.

'PhantomBlu is the instantiation of all our technology into a platform for defence applications using MMW,' Barrett said. 

Within the naval domain the company is already talking to the French Navy to apply MMW technology for ship-to-shore and ship-to-ship broadband communications. There are also ongoing discussions with the USN and the UK RN, although the latter could be for application on unmanned systems and therefore would not be PhantomBlu but a smaller version of the technology.

Shephard's DSEI 2023 coverage is sponsored by:

Alix Valenti


Alix Valenti

Dr Alix Valenti is an international freelance defence journalist. Her main focus is on naval …

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