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SmartLink, smart move

Chemring outlines the capabilities of its SmartLink cellular network

Chemring has revealed to MONS that its SmartLink cellular ‘network-in-a-box’ battlefield communications system has been procured by several armed forces in Europe and Asia.

The company continued that the entire SmartLink architecture, weighing 6.6 kilograms (14.5 pounds) can be fitted into a backpack and can be operated with just an antenna and battery connection: “It’s all-in-one, turn it on and it works,” Chemring stipulated in a written statement. As well as working while stationary, the system can be used on the move, providing a ‘bubble’ of third-generation (3G) cellular communications which can be active within three minutes of switching the unit on. The ranges achievable with the SmartLink are typically two kilometres (1.2 miles) to three kilometres (1.9 miles) in open ground, although this can be extended to circa ten kilometres (6.2 miles) using a Rolatube mast. The statement added that the SmartLink can be operated on standard cellular frequencies, typically in the ultra high frequency waveband of 300 megahertz to three gigahertz.

Interestingly, the company stated that the key impetus for the realisation of the SmartLink was to afford additional bandwidth to soldiers via their cell phones: “A key driver of SmartLink was to enable the move away from the constraints of the current tactical military radios. These have insufficient bandwidth to cope with the growing data requirements of modern usage. The radios are also proprietary, expensive and heavy. All of this increases the burden on the soldier and constrains their situational awareness.” Soldiers accessing the SmartLink need only to add a dedicated SIM (Subscriber Identification Module) card to their cell phones or tablets to use the system.

In terms of services, the SmartLink can carry push-to-talk software applications, streaming video and other situational awareness tools, the company’s statement added. Moreover, the SmartLink includes an IP (Internet Protocol) connection allowing it to communicate with other networks such as satellite communications for backhaul.

Thomas Withington

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