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Increased Adoption of the C4ISR Warfare Paradigm and the Proliferation of Emerging Technologies Drive the Modernization of Tactical Communications Systems
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Over the past few years, land tactical communications has gained precedence as a major modernization objective of militaries worldwide. Whilst the current tactical communications systems used by Western majors proved to be useful against a technologically less advanced adversary in the past, recent high-intensity conflicts in dense Electronic Warfare (EW) and contested-spectrum environments have demonstrated its shortfalls. Because of the criticality of uninterrupted communications to operational success, countries such as the United States are working towards addressing deficiencies with the objective of adopting a more agile communications paradigm.As operations become more data driven and Network Centric Warfare (NCW) oriented, the role of the tactical radio is undergoing changes. Advanced radios today are not just devices that provide duplex voice links anymore. They are multi-band tactical assets that transmit video and coordinates, track peers, link with back-end Command, Control and Communications (C3) and Battlefield Management Systems (BMS), autonomously configuring operating modes as per mission requirements or spectrum characteristics/constraints. “Soldier as a Sensor” concepts and the adoption of more Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) protocols have also increased the data rate and transmission channel requirements of radio systems. Major defense spenders are also emphasizing on more secure waveforms, built-in Electronic Counter Counter Measures (ECCM) modules, rationalizing waveform types to simplify operations whilst also reducing Size, Weight and Power (SWaP).Maintaining connectivity links whilst on the move as part of maneuver brigade operations is driving the adoption of satellite communication (satcom) enabled radio terminals as a norm in many countries. At the same time, these nations also want to be equipped with communication solutions that can perform well in degraded spectrum environments, thus driving capability inclusions such as radio tethering, cross-banding advanced MANET, cognitive programming and UAS based radio linking.As far as communication is concerned, technological advancements in the commercial sector has overtaken those in the defense communications sector on many fronts. New programs using increasingly civilian technology and protocols such as 4G and wireless LAN – overlaid with an advanced security features are migrating into land tactical communications.Future enhancements in the scale of joint and coalition operations require the adoption of tactical radio systems with open architectures that facilitate ease of interoperability. Many Western tactical communications original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are pursuing collaborative development programs, such as the European Secure Software defined Radio (ESSOR) program, and are adopting US developed Software Communication Architecture (SCA) to facilitate interoperability.The aforementioned factors are driving advanced nations to adopt high data rate (HDR), multi-channel, multi-band radio systems with advanced value added features to support military operations and improve operational performance in the battlefield.Whilst many Western militaries already have integrated tactical communications networks in place, many countries in the Middle East, Central & South Asia, Eastern Europe and Asia Pacific will adopt integrated land tactical communications networks for the first time during the forecast period.Whilst the capability requirements from tactical communications solutions are expanding, the competition too is on the rise. Regional OEMs are not only starting to challenge Western OEMs, but also expanding their market presence into other geographies. The drive for indigenization and setting up local manufacture is high in markets such as Saudi Arabia and India. Land tactical communications will continue to evolve into a high-opportunity, capability-driven market throughout the study period. Seizing addressable opportunities will require tailoring country-specific value propositions that this study presents.Author: Arjun Sreekumar
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