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Industry sees troposcatter technology as CJADC2 enabler

A Comtech COMET troposcatter system set up for a BLOS network demonstration at SOF Week 2023 in Tampa, Florida. (Comtech)

Industry officials are looking to leverage Cold War-era tactical communications technologies as a potential enabler for the US Department of Defense's (DoD's) Combined Joint All-Domain Command and Control (CJADC2) capability.

Programme officials with satellite communications (satcom) development company Comtech in May conducted a multivendor demonstration that blended satcom, tropospheric scatter links, and local area networks (LANs) to blend “multiple connectivity types, multiple connectivity bubbles” as a means to stand up a viable, beyond-the-line-of-sight (BLOS) combat communications network for a satcom-denied environment, said Dan Gizinski, chief strategy officer for defence at Comtech.

The demonstration – carried out during the inaugural SOF Week 2023 conference in Tampa, Florida – consisted of a satcom link via commercial provider Kymeta, combined with two troposcatter links connecting a small unit element with a forward-deployed command post 13 miles away.

The connectivity bridge established as part of the demonstration provided “internet connectivity and data rates that … we expect to be in the tens of megabits per second range but can support significantly increased throughput in the 100 megabits per second plus range,” Gizinski told Janes during a May interview.

Developed shortly after the Second World War, tropospheric scatter or troposcatter technology is a means of long-range communication consisting of the bouncing of microwave radio signals off the Earth's troposphere. Once the microwave passes through the troposphere, the signals ‘scatter' and descend across a wide area and are picked up by ground relay stations, oftentimes miles away from the initial transmission site.

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