C4iSR: Joint & Common Equipment

Raytheon demonstrates X-Net autonomous radio communications system

14 December 2018

Raytheon’s X-Net radio communications system autonomously and instantly selects an optimal radio frequency for communications. Pictured with an Insitu RQ-21A Blackjack UAV. Source: Raytheon

Raytheon in August demonstrated its X-Net radio communications system, which autonomously and instantly selects the optimal radio frequency to provide continuous communications.

Barbara Borgonovi, Raytheon vice president of integrated communications systems, told Jane's on 10 December that this is significant because it demonstrates the company's ability to replace two radios with one. During the demonstrations, which took place on an Insitu RQ-21A Blackjack tactical unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), X-Net performed the flight control operations and video transmission job of the legacy radios.

X-Net, during the demonstration with US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, allowed Blackjack to flip its own switch to the best radio frequency for operations. The aircraft even continuously hopped radio signals to avoid busy frequencies. Raytheon swapped out two existing radios on Blackjack for the company's X-Net system.

Torrey Cady, Raytheon director of tactical communication systems, said many radios used in similar applications are point-to-point only. X-Net, he said, instead provides mobile and ad-hoc networking (MANET), which autonomously and automatically relays a signal between any other radios on its network.

Cady compared X-Net with a common internet protocol (IP)-based router system.

"Like [the] internet, you don't think about how you get to the information," he said. "You just tell your computer what you want to talk to and it automatically routes through a very complicated web of routers to get there."

As a user proliferates the X-Net system onto the forward tactical edge of a battlefield, each system enabled by X-Net further expands and enables the data links necessary for the other X-Nets in the area, rather than point-to-point communications.

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