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Ivory Merchants

QinetiQ highlights anti-poaching role for COMINT system

Sources from QinetiQ have told MONS during the DSA 2018 exhibition being held in Kuala Lumpur between 16 April and 19 April that the company is promoting its airborne ASX Communications Intelligence (COMINT) system family to help combat poaching. Different ASX configurations can fit a wide array of airframe types, from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to twin turboprop sized airframes such as the Beechcraft King Air family up to larger platforms such as the deHavilland/Bombardier Dash-8 series turboprop transport. The ASX ensemble can either be installed on an outrigger, particularly suitable for a small-sized platform such as a UAV, or internally-mounted in a larger airframe. The asset of the latter option is that the aircraft’s fuselage can be utilised to house a large number of blade antennae to improve the system’s direction finding accuracy. Covering conventional very high frequency and ultra high frequency communications across a waveband of 30 megahertz/MHz to three gigahertz/GHz, the ASX includes Horizon Technology’s HT-Q subsystem which allows COMINT to be performed vis-à-vis Thuraya satellite communications which use a 1.525GHz to 1.559GHz bandwidth for downlink and 1.6265GHz to 1.6605GHz for uplink, and Smith Myer’s SM-Q enabling COMINT to be collected regarding cell phone communications.

Company sources informed MONS that, typically, several different individuals can be involved in poaching operations such as the illegal harvesting of ivory from elephants. These actors may typically be based in several different countries, perhaps spanning a number of different continents. By using the ASX in areas where poaching may be occurring, it is possible to develop a ‘picture’ of the communications traffic which may in turn reveal the communications being used by the poachers themselves involved in killing the animal. Once such information is collected, it becomes possible to then monitor the communications of the poachers to ascertain with whom they are communicating, thus helping to identify other individuals who may be involved. As well as helping to apprehend people who are supporting this illegal trade, such evidence can be collected to help secure convictions in later criminal court proceedings.

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