Thales UK has added a frequency-hopping capability to its SquadNet mesh networking soldier radio and revealed this at the SMi Future Soldier Technology conference in March 2019 in London.
The SquadNet radio, which operates in the 860–890 MHz range, has a point-to-point range of 2.5 km; in automatic network relay mode this is extended to 6 km. It provides up to 100 talk groups over 50 channels with up to 50 users per channel. It offers narrowband voice, positional information, and data-networking waveforms using technology that provides an apparently simultaneous service to the user.
SquadNet is offered with the Thales Android SABRE battle management application (BMA), providing text and chat, file transfer, navigation, blue force tracking, enemy location and target management, casualty management, and health and usage monitoring. It can also be integrated with other BMAs. The Android end user device (EUD), such as a smartphone running SABRE, can be connected to the radio either by a wired or Bluetooth link and can be used for voice and data communication and to control the radio. SABRE can also provide a bridge to a second radio, such as a higher command network.
The data mode also allows the SquadNet to be used to control unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs).
The different services can be selectively encrypted, including with AES 256. This allows different levels of security to be applied as required. For example, secure data and locational data could be passed on the secure command net while the voice service remains at a lower classification.
Ciaran McCloskey, SquadNet product manager, explained that while individual radios in a fixed frequency mesh were difficult to detect, a cluster would show up as an RF source that could be detected on a line of bearing using a relatively simple device.
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