Thales has taken the opportunity at the 2017 Paris Air Show to showcase the latest developments in its airborne communications product line.
Smart Connectivity is intended to overcome the problem of increasing saturation of communications networks with high volumes of data, particularly full motion video (FMV). The concept is based on smartphone functionality, providing access to a number of voice and data applications with pop-up alerts when relevant information becomes available for download.
This is based on the Thales Synaps-A airborne software defined radio (SDR) and the AirPower waveform. The Synaps range of SDRs is the commercial version of the Contact programme for the French military, while the AirPower networking waveform allows automatic join/leave, split/merge, ad hoc/relaying and cross-banding, with extended range and spectrum-saving mechanisms. It also offers a wide variety of differentiated user services, such as combat voice, messaging with reliable forwarding, communities of interest, chat, SMS, geographic Blue Force Tracking (BFT), and warnings.
A Thales representative told Jane's that Smart Connectivity is essentially a software suite based on a smart secure communications server, which he described as a "smart router". For a fully functioning network it has to be integrated with every platform within the network. Although the capability is embedded in Synaps-A it can also be used with legacy equipment with the addition of a hardware module, providing the radio has an internet protocol interface.
The system can also be used in a multilevel security environment, although in this case the software needs to be partitioned. The representative noted that for NATO Secret (NS) specific hardware would be required.
A prototype is being developed for the French Direction Générale de l'Armement (DGA), using the airborne variant of the Contact radio.
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