Battlefield Digitisation: LWC highlights - Harris pushes into Land 200 | ADM Feb 2009

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With the their AN/PRC-152 now selected for the dismounted requirements of Land 200's Combat Radio System and the mounted requirements when docked into a AN/PRC-110 vehicle adaptor, we suspect that Harris Communications will be looking to increase their reach into the ADF possibly through future replacements for the Army's Personal Role Radio acquired under Land 125.

Surprisingly to some, Defence selected the Harris handheld data radio over very strong competition from the Thales AN/PRC-148, which had already been acquired in considerable numbers by the Army.

The scope of Land 125 had required man-wearable data radios, capable of integration with the voice-only PRR, to be supplied for the Dismounted Battle Management System.

Defence had awarded a $13 million contract to Marconi Australia to supply about 6000 handheld personal radios following an extensive evaluation process involving Tadiran's 900 mHz Soldier Personal Radio, Telephonics Short Range Radio (previously Saab Communications SRR) and Marconi's (now Selex) H4855 Personal Role Radio.

The Selex PR Radio is an advanced system, which helps front-line combat troops by linking them together, and to commanders, to allow a detailed picture of the fighting to be created, finally lifting the so-called fog of battle.

Each soldier gets a lightweight headset, which is worn under a combat helmet, linked to a radio the size of a personal stereo set.

The combatants can then pass and receive orders and information amongst themselves during fighting over distances of up to 500 metres, whether the site is open, heavily wooded or features buildings.

The system uses Wireless LAN technology, transmitting 50mW over the 2.4GHz band.

The system offers low-probability of interception and detection and is designed to perform in dense electromagnetic environments.

The PRR has an effective range of 500 meters in open terrain; communications can be established through up to three floors in urban environments.

Each unit is provided with a specific group, selected from a total of 256 available channels.

With an eye perhaps to their eventual replacement under follow-on L125 acquisitions, Harris Communications has now introduced its own upscale RF-7800S Secure Personal Radio, a clever lightweight wideband radio that delivers simultaneous voice, data and situational awareness communications to individual soldiers.

According to Harris the RF-7800S offers unique, full duplex, duel-net voice capability, allowing up to three operators to talk simultaneously with an unlimited number of listeners.

The radio's advanced waveform coupled with 350 to 450 MHz RF band ensures more than 2 km range over open terrain and a superior ability to penetrate buildings and other structures.

The radio incorporates an SPS GPS receiver allowing for real-time positioning and tracking.

The Norwegian Defence Force, which was looking for a flexible network-enabled soldier radio, has acquired several thousand of these RF-7800S systems, which will be deployed as part of their Personal Field Radio standardisation program.

But the PRC-152 are not the only Harris radios selected by the ADF.

Australian Special Forces in Afghanistan are equipped with a range of communications systems, including the Harris 117 (AN/PRC 117), which has a digital bearer capability and has waveform compatibility with RAAF and Navy radio systems.

It is used by SASR for call for fires and air support operations, often cued from the air picture supplied by various coalition systems.

The ADF also has acquired (numbers unknown) the Harris RF- High-Capacity-Line-of-Sight Radio, a new product developed as a powerful alternative to traditional microwave communications.

This is a high capacity LOS system that provides greater bandwidth and throughput and shorter latency than microwave radios which have been in use for some 40 years.

The RF-7800W operates in both point-to-point (PTP) and point-to-multipoint (PMP) configurations.

In PTP mode, under clear conditions, the radio can safely transfer encrypted IP traffic over distances in excess of 50km, with data rates exceeding 80 Mbps.

Link distances in PMP mode can exceed 20km with 40 Mbps data rates shared with all nodes.

Harris says that secure WAN connectivity through the RF-7800W radios enables company commanders to rapidly synchronise military intelligence systems with brigade, division and national databases.

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