The combat radio as networked sensor

Click to Enlarge By John Keller
Editor in Chief

We're hearing a lot these days about networked unattended sensors. These devices, placed unobtrusively on the battlefield, record all kinds of things: video; sounds; movements of the Earth that might indicate the presence of infantry or combat vehicles; the presence of chemical, biological, and nuclear agents; positions as measured by the Global Positioning System (GPS); and other variables. Then these sensors send their data to tactical networks that compile and compare the data, and extract useful, actionable information.

Once processed, information from these unattended sensors can be put on electronic maps that indicate the locations of friendly troops, enemy troops, concentrations of armored vehicles and artillery, and even where chemical agents might be a threat. These situation maps either can be pushed out to forces in the field, or made available on a tactical Internet for retrieval when necessary. Top commanders and front-line soldiers alike can have a common picture of the battlefield to help them keep troops alive and effective, and to take the fight to the enemy.

Think of how this kind of situational-awareness capability can cut through the so-called "fog of war," a phenomenon that since the beginning of time has tripped-up military forces with unpleasant surprises. That's the whole idea behind networked unattended sensors—to keep unpleasant surprises on the battlefield to a minimum.

Deploying unattended sensors effectively involves a host of issues, not the least of which are power management, lightweight batteries, antenna placement, and ruggedization to withstand the effects of shock, vibration, dust, dirt, and moisture for long periods—or at least for as long as these sensors are needed. Anti-tamper technology has to be a part of the solution for when these devices might fall into the hands of enemies. In addition, what happens to these sensors when they're no longer effective or needed? Must they be retrieved, destroyed, or somehow rendered inert?

Now think of a similar kind of unattended sensor, but one that isn't hidden in foliage or under a rock, but instead that is embedded unobtrusively in a soldier-carried radio, which almost everyone on the battlefield will have. This combat radio offers all the functionality that a soldier needs—voice communications with others in his unit, data communications to exchange maps and documents, and the ability to send and receive still images and video.

The kind of unattended sensor technology we're talking about would reside on that same radio, and work in the background without any intervention necessary from the user. It's a situational-awareness networked sensor that goes along for the ride, creating no additional workload for the user, but providing a rich new dimension of real-time information about the soldier's surroundings.

Now let's consider sensors in or around the radio that measure each soldier's vital signs, and automatically relay that data back to the tactical network. With a map overlay, commanders at all levels could see at a glance which solders are healthy and operational, which ones are wounded or under stress, and which ones are dead. This information helps not only to assess battle tactics, but also the need for medical evacuation.

Only the imagination limits the possibilities. Perhaps what's best about situational-awareness sensors embedded in infantry combat radios is the sensors move with the soldiers. Almost all the information they gather is relevant, with little need to place sensors into hibernation to save battery life.

This is the new frontier of military communications. Read more in the Special Report entitled, "SDR and cognitive radio: the new horizons of military communications."

More Military & Aerospace Electronics Current Issue Articles
More Military & Aerospace Electronics Archives Issue Articles

Military & Aerospace Photos

Most Popular Articles

Related Products

SBC-K7 Embedded PC for Instrumentation and Control

The SBC-K7 is an ideal platform for embedded instrumentation that combines an Atom PC running Win...

Rugged Mobile Communications Server

Advanced communications server designed to be deployed in environments where it needs to meet cer...

RR2P Removable Canister RAID System

Transportable data storage for mobile field use aboard planes, ships and ground transport. 2U, du...

P317xx Portable Computer System w/ Three 17" LCDs

The P317xx portable " lunchbox" system is unique in offering three 17" 1280x1024 resolution LCD d...

M1U20xx 1U Military-Grade Computer System

The M1U20xx Military-Grade Rack Mount System is a reliable high-performance mil-spec 1U solution ...

M4U20xx 4U Rackmount Military-Grade Computer

A 4U rugged military-grade computer offering the latest long-availability high-performance mother...

TFX-19 Trifold Rackmount LCD

The TFX1-19 is a rugged military grade high performance 2U rackmount LCD panel display offering t...

CCXR-17 Slideways Side Access Rackmount LCD Keyboard

The CCXR-17 is a unique Side Access space-efficient military-grade high-performance 1U rackmount ...

Sensors Unlimited GA1280JSX High Resolution, Mil-Rugged, Extended High Sensitivity InGaAs SWIR Camera

Manufactures a high resolution, mil-rugged, extended high-sensitivity 0.9 Mpixel InGaAs SWIR came...

High Temperature Resistant Linear Position Sensors Perform in Military and Defense Applications with High Accuracy

Macro Sensors has designed a series of high temperature and rugged LVDT linear position sensors t...

Related Companies

Innovative Integration

  Since 1988, Innovative Integration has grown to become one of the world's leading suppliers of DSP and data ac...

Elma Electronic Inc

Who we are...   About Elma Electronic Systems   The Systems division of Elma Electronic Inc. supplies the

Winchester Systems Inc

At its founding in 1981, Winchester Systems introduced its first 5 MB disk system for Intel development system users....

Extreme Engineering Solutions Inc (X-ES)

 Extreme Engineering Solutions, Inc. (X-ES) is a leader in the design, manufacture, and support of standard and ...

American Infrared Solutions (AIRS)

American Infrared Solutions

Raycom Electronics

Raycom Electronics, Inc., a subsidiary of Electro Technik Industries (ETI), was incorporated in 1965.  The compa...

GE Intelligent Platforms

GE Intelligent Platforms is a leading global provider of embedded computing systems and modules for a wide range of a...

Trenton Systems Inc

Designs and manufactures rugged rackmount computers and MIL-STD-810 systems using both standard COTS as well as custo...

Intersil Corp

Intersil is leveraging a deep portfolio of intellectual property, a history of design and process innovation and a sy...
Wire News provided by   

Press Releases

Low Viscosity, One Part Cyanoacrylate Is Non-Toxic and Meets ISO 10993-5 Specifications

Master Bond MB250NT is widely used for a variety of applications ranging from repair to high speed producti...

Thermally Conductive, Two Component Epoxy Passes USP Class VI Tests and ISO 10993-5 Specifications

With biocompatibility and cytotoxicity certifications, Master Bond EP21AOLV-2Med is often selected for bond...

One Component, Snap Cure Epoxy Features High Strength Properties

Suitable for a variety of applications in the electronic, aerospace and OEM industries, Master Bond EP3SP5F...

One Part Epoxy Resists up to 500°F and Meets NASA Low Outgassing Specifications

Master Bond Supreme 12AOHT-LO is a one component epoxy for a variety of bonding and sealing applications in...

VICTORY Shared Processing, Fire Control Computer, and Switch for Ground Vehicles Introduced by Curtiss-Wright

Curtiss-Wright Corporation today announced that its Defense Solutions division has introduced a new fully i...


Curtiss-Wright Corporation’s Defense Solutions division applauds Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) o...

Curtiss-Wright’s New Rugged Mobile IP Router Subsystem Features an Integrated Cisco® 5915 ESR Router

Curtiss-Wright Corporation today announced that its Defense Solutions division, a Cisco® Systems Solution T...

GE Announces First Sub-Credit Card-Sized Multi-Function High Definition (HD) Video Tracker

HUNTSVILLE, AL.— OCTOBER 13, 2014—GE’s Intelligent Platforms business today announced at AUSA (October 13-...


Meeting the Gen3 backplane challenge with OpenVPX and COTS

Tight Pentagon budgets mean military systems must stay in the field for longer than ever before. This doesn't mean obsolete technology, however. Today's military electronics are being upgraded constantly, an...
Sponsored by:

Design Strategy Considerations for DO-178C Certified Multi-core Systems

Join Wind River to learn how system architecture and design choices can minimize your DO-178C certification challenges.

Sponsored by:

Flying, Sailing or Driving - The Rugged, Embedded Intel-based Server that goes where you need it!Flying Sailing or Driving

Leveraging the power of server-class processors is no longer relegated to the confines of data centers. Through several innovations, Mercury Systems has ruggedized Intel’s server-class chips for deployment. ...
Sponsored by:

All Access Sponsors

Mil & Aero Magazine

April 2015
Volume 26, Issue 4

Download Our Apps




Follow Us On...


Military & Aerospace Electronics

Weekly newsletter covering technical content, breaking news and product information

Cyber Security

Monthly newsletter covering cyber warfare, cyber security, information warfare, and information security technologies, products, contracts, and procurement opportunities

Defense Executive

Monthly newsletter covering business news and strategic insights for executive managers

Electronic Warfare

Quarterly newsletter covering technologies and applications in electronic warfare, cyber warfare, optical warfare, and spectrum warfare.

Embedded Computing Report

Monthly newsletter covering news on embedded computing in aerospace, defense and industrial-rugged applications

Unmanned Vehicles

Monthly newsletter covering news updates for designers of unmanned vehicles