The Army will test new radios from three companies over the next year to evaluate technologies to maintain soldier communications on the battlefield by automatically switching between waveforms after initial channels are compromised, with plans to start experiments with soldiers in September.

Persistent Systems, Silvus and Oceus have each received a deal from the Army’s Network Cross Functional Team (CFT) and Program Executive Office Command Control Communications Tactical (PEO C3T) to test their new radios and inform the feasibility of integrating “automated failover” capabilities for battlefield communications.

Photo: Persistent Systems.

“This effort will gauge capability maturity and integration readiness to help scope future capability set experimentation plans and network design decisions,” Paul Mehney, PEO C3T’s director of public communications, told Defense Daily. “Over the next twelve months, experimentation will inform trade spaces between technology, doctrine, and tactics, and a characterization of prototype capabilities and limitations.”

The Network CFT and PEO C3T will look to specifically inform tactical network requirements for “Primary, Alternative, Contingency and Emergency” (PACE) communications planning, that would allow soldiers to seamlessly switch between radio waveforms if a single channel happens to go down on the battlefield.

“Efforts will investigate automated failover, PACE Plan, solutions capable of integrating legacy and future network capabilities such as automated PACE for communications to switch between 4G, commercial Mobile Ad-Hoc Networking, and government waveforms for the dismount soldier,” Mehney said.

Networked radios are expected to be delivered in late April to early May as the Network CFT and PEO C3T plan to start lab-based evaluations, which will be followed by tests with soldiers in September.

Persistent Systems announced earlier in April it will provide its MPU5 networked radio for the 12-month evaluation (Defense Daily, April 3).

Mehney said the deal with Persistent Systems, awarded through Rapid Innovation Funds, was worth $2.6 million to deliver 80 radios over the course of the evaluation period.

The evaluation will look to test prove different methods of facilitating soldier communications with available radio systems are degraded or denied, and test reliable failover capabilities for network routing to ensure connectivity during maneuver operations.

“This ‘automated failover’ should happen automatically and be invisible to the soldier,” Mehney said.