New Radios are Pushing Broadband to the Edge of the Battlefield


General Dynamics is developing the ‘Handheld, Manpack and Small Form Fit’ (HMS) radio under the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) to provide high bandwidth communications even at the lowest level of command, establishing wideband communication among tactical vehicles and with dismounted units on-the-move. The  radio supports JTRS Wideband Networking Waveform and standard based 802.16 wireless networking technologies, facilitating the transfer of large amounts of information and for on-line collaboration between moving vehicles.

General Dynamics C4 Systems, currently under contract to deliver the HMS radios to the U.S. Department of Defense, displayed the new hand held and vehicular radios at the MILCOM 2008. At the demonstration the new radios facilitated communication between vehicles and dismounted soldiers. The new radios are embedding several wide-band waveforms, including the Wideband Networking Waveform (WNW) and IEEE 802.16 or “WiMAX’ wide-area networking, to provide the needed bandwidth and spectrum range to facilitate communication between tactical vehicles while they are moving. HMS radios are designed to meet all JTRS waveform-compliance, interoperability and security standards.  The first HMS radios will be in warfighters’ hands in early 2010.

“Demonstrating WNW and 802.16 for advanced, high-speed networking places HMS in a class by itself for performance and efficiency,” said Chris Brady, vice president of Assured Communications Systems for General Dynamics C4 Systems.

Other HMS radios are currently in user tests to prove their effectiveness in close-combat tactical communications, including the Rifleman radio in use by the U.S. Army’s Evaluation Task Force at Fort Bliss. The Rifleman radio mirrors the Small Form Fit- C (SFF-C) Version 1 of HMS with additional radio controls and its own power supply.