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Rohde & Schwarz’ SDRs Roar Onto the Scene

In today’s naval forces, higher technical and procedural complexity has to be mastered to maintain mission readiness. Reliable communications are of the upmost importance in any operation. Any joint maritime force must have the capability to exercise Command and Control (C2) and to accomplish a broad range of missions.

Command, Control and Communications
A networked joint communications architecture is essential to facilitate intelligence collection, coordinate multi-platform execution and avoid friendly fire incidents. Information connectivity, exchange and integration at all levels can help maximize maritime domain awareness and mission accomplishment. Because of the need for mobility, much of the naval communications infrastructure is provided by radiofrequency circuits and networks that operate over a wide portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. The numerous communications paths linking ship to shore and ship to ship carry a variety of information, including orders, critical intelligence, tracking data on friendly and enemy forces, logistics and routine information, e-mails and voice. Key technology drivers are ongoing migration towards IP networks and VoIP (voice over internet protocol) systems, the recurring relevance of High Frequency (HF) systems as a backup to Satellite Communications (SATCOM) services and the increasing demand to counter cyber-attacks. By using communication solutions by Rohde & Schwarz a comprehensive information-sharing network can be set up for improved situational awareness.

Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance
Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities of maritime assets are provided by a variety of systems. For example, Global Command and Control Systems (GCCS) provide commanders with a single, integrated C2 system that receives, processes, displays and maintains current information. This information is mostly transmitted via Tactical data Links (TDL), which are particularly important as far as digital naval communications are concerned. NATO and allied navies use the Link 11 protocol, which allows the exchange of radar track information between ships, shore installations and aircraft. Link 11 will be progressively replaced by Link 22 from about 2024. Link 22 is an important element in the exchange of information in network-centric warfare. Outstanding features of the new standard include optimized information processing, a higher data rate, a transmission technique less susceptible to interference and a flexible network topology. Link 22 has matured to a degree that allows its installation in customer systems. The active participation of Rohde & Schwarz in developing this data link standard ensures that customers will always obtain the optimal solution for their radio applications. Already delivered radios can be upgraded to support Link 22 protecting the investments made by the company’s customers.

Modern navies are looking for sophistication of C4ISR systems and networking capabilities. Here, the Ship-Shore-Ship Buffer (SSSB) is a real-time data link buffer system supporting data exchange between naval forces, including airborne assets and their associated air defence ground environment units. The SSSB functionality includes data transmission and forwarding on a multitude of national and NATO data links including Link 11 and in the future Link 22. The SSSB generates a real-time common operational picture including air, surface and sub-surface elements. Rohde & Schwarz offers systems for SSSB. References include Germany, the Netherlands and other nations.

C2 Modernization via BRASS BRE1TA
To take advantage of new technologies with higher degree of automation and decreased operator demand, NATO developed the Broadcast and Ship to Shore (BRASS) Enhancement One Target Architecture (BRE1TA) that defines improvements to the existing shore HF stations that will become Beyond-Line-Of-Sight (BLOS) access points in future. NATO plans to move HF communications to the new BRE1TA, which is also the basis for the implementation of wideband HF services. HF can reach where SATCOM, using geostationary satellites, cannot (e.g. Polar regions). Additionally, as HF communications does not relay on additional infrastructure it is not as vulnerable as SATCOM. Rohde & Schwarz already introduced BRASS Evolution (BRASS EO) for the Royal Danish Navy, the first user to implement the new NATO target architecture for HF communications within the fleet. The system is based on the R&S®M3SR Series 4100 HF software defined radio (SDR), part of the SOVERON® family and other key components of the integrated NAVICS® communications system. Cybersecurity solutions conforming with the latest NATO information assurance requirements are integrated into the IT infrastructure, in order to increase resilience to emerging cyber threats. The Rohde & Schwarz radio equipment is already prepared for future wideband HF applications with higher data throughput, 24kHz- and 48kHz-capable radio equipment is in series production. Already delivered radios can be upgraded to support HF wideband protecting the investments made by the company’s customers.

External Communications in a Joint Environment
In naval communications, SOVERON SDRs are responsible for external communications on all classes of ships in a joint environment within a formation, up to fleet command and other forces. The R&S M3SR radio, part of the SOVERON radio family, fulfils latest military communications requirements and is used in a wide field of applications. The radio covers maritime and NATO standards. Several frequency hopping standards and data transmission methods, such as Link 11 and Link 22, as well as BRE1TA are supported. In the SOVERON radio network, excellent RF characteristics make it possible to setup huge communications systems where many independent operating communications lines are used at the same time. Such RF characteristics play a crucial role on demanding platforms, such as frigates and ground-based control stations.

Earlier this year, production in Rohde & Schwarz’ Memmingen manufacturing plant has surpassed a milestone of having delivered more than 10,000 R&S M3SRs. The company has provided more than 40 navies with state-of-the-art communications technology, ensuring maritime stable and secure connectivity. Rohde & Schwarz brings extensive experience and knowledge in supplying integrated communications and network systems to naval platforms and naval, joint or allied communication networks. The most effective support, solutions are delivered through partnerships with customers. Rohde & Schwarz understand that sustainment and logistics are vital to any operations, and is committed to providing consultation and support wherever and whenever a customer needs it.

Stefan Nitschke


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