Military Technology 03/2022

it is important for system designers to understand that the various key wireless technologies actually share more in common than might be immediately apparent, and many of the tradeoffs between them often come down to a matter of physics. In all cases, higher transmit power will increase the maximum transmission range, as will a larger antenna placed high and free of obstructions. Typically, where these competing wireless technologies begin to diverge is in the different frequency ranges at which they broadcast. A key trade-off to consider is that a wireless technology that broadcasts at higher frequencies, which can provide more bandwidth, will also be more susceptible to blockage by natural or man-made obstructions. Another key factor that must be considered is whether a wireless technology’s frequency range is likely to also be shared by other technologies already broadcasting over those same frequencies. While a solider in battle may not be too concerned with FCC regulations, it is important to avoid frequency overlap with other forces and coalition partners. Recently, the popularity of connecting devices and users via 4G LTE or 5G cellular technologies in the consumer and industrial space has driven rising interest in the military community. The ubiquity of the cellular communications infrastructure in the developed world would seem to suggest that setting up and managing cellular networks on the battlefield might be a minimal challenge – and one easily overcome, perhaps. While mini- and micro-cell systems are available in ruggedised versions that can be transported to the battlefield, they tend to be comprised of numerous parts that require a sophisticated operator or advanced training to set up Warfighters on the battlefield have relied on wireless communications for more than 80 years, dating back to the first Motorola ‘manpack’ radio used by the Army Signal Corps in the 1940s. Over the decades, advances in wireless technology have enabled these radios to shrink considerably in size, to the point at which we have the handheld radios we have become familiar with today. Modern wireless communications have evolved far beyond the basic voice communications on the move supported by World War II era manpacks. Today, to maintain situational awareness, our warfighters depend on wireless communications capabilities that range from data, voice, video, and even helmet-based augmented reality displays. With these added capabilities comes a greater requirement for protecting data-in-motion. Until recently, though, the only option for transmitting secure wireless data and voice communications at the tactical edge of the battlefield has been to use expensive and difficult to manage hand-held devices with built in Type-1 encryption. The good news is that commercial wireless technologies, designed in accordance with the NSA’s (US National Security Agency) Commercial Solutions for Classified (CSfC) programme, are now finding application on the battlefield. Choosing the Right Wireless Technology Today, systemdesigners have a range of wireless technologies to choose from, including 4G LTE or 5G cellular technologies, MANET (mobile ad-hoc network), and Wi-Fi, all with their own various adherents and champions. Before selecting and architecting their wireless communications solution, Dominic Perez, Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions Wireless Communications at the Tactical Edge Trade-offs and Hurdles 72 · MT 3/2022 C4ISR Forum Curtiss-Wright’s PacStar Secure Wireless Command Post implements the NSA’s Commercial Solutions for Classified CWLAN Capability Package to rapidly provide wireless classified network access to users.