A flexible communication node under development by a consortium of defence primes to meet a UK requirement is expected to enter trials from November 2017.
Known as Tactical Hotspot, the effort is intended to increase the “elasticity” of the strike brigades, allowing dispersed operations while enabling rapid concentration when the situation requires.
The concept brings a number of different communication methods together in a single vehicle that is able to accompany the strike brigades on operations. The integrated system enables data to flow between the communication bearers, bringing together beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) communications with a number of shorter-range methods.
BAE Systems, Airbus Defence and Space (D&S), and General Dynamics Mission Systems (GDMS) have collaborated to introduce potential options. Work originally started in March 2016 as a collaborative private venture technology demonstration programme, which resulted in the demonstration of a prototype in November 2016.
Following the demonstration the consortium was awarded a GBP1.2 million (USD1.6 million) contract to produce two experimental Strike Tactical Hotspots to support the work of the Strike Experimentation Group (SEG). These will be delivered in November 2017 for an experimental period until March 2018, but a BAE Systems representative told Jane’s this could be extended for a further 18–24 months.
The experimental Strike Tactical Hotspots are based on an Iveco Panther vehicle, provided as Government Funded Equipment (GFE). A range of communication devices have been integrated into this platform, including a SATCOM-on-the-move (SOTM) system from Airbus D&S; Bowman VHF tactical radio and UHF Enhanced High Capacity Data Radio (EHCDR) from GDMS; two mast-mounted Thales TRC 4000 Band IV UHF radios from the BAE Systems Falcon high-capacity tactical area communication system; a small form factor 4G LTE base station solution from GDMS at Chippenham in the United Kingdom; and Link 16 and WiFi from BAE Systems.
Integration of these systems is facilitated by the in-service Jackdaw CIS system and by BAE Systems’ Web-Enabled Data Links (WEnDL).
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