Communications are vital for troop welfare and, increasingly, for missile guidance and robotic warfare systems. To maintain the integrity of communications links in the field, especially in dense signal environments, the X-Net radio system from Raytheon Co. has shown the agility and capability to autonomously select the optimum radio frequency for operation, even when the operating environment is densely filled with radio signals.
The frequency-agile communications technology has been successfully demonstrated with missile systems such as RQ-21A Blackjacks, even in operating environments with troops, aircraft, and ships on the move and using the same frequency bands. The X-Net radio communications system autonomously and instantly selects the optimal radio frequency as needed, hopping when required to avoid spectrum congestion.
The X-Net radio system is designed for use with missiles, stand-off precision guided munitions, and small unmanned autonomous systems to connect host platforms to a tactical network. “Over the past few years, it’s been a huge accomplishment to make sure everyone operates from the same network,” said Bob King, a program manager at Raytheon’s Integrated Communication Systems.
The X-Net radio communications system, which autonomously and instantly selects the optimal radio frequency for operations, was recently demonstrated as the communication systems for an RQ-21A Blackjack missile. (Courtesy: Raytheon and the U.S. Marine Corps)
During a demonstration, the X-Net system was swapped out for the existing radio systems on a U.S. Navy RQ-21A Blackjack missile. The system’s mission involved maintaining communications in a dense signal environment, allowing the missile to conduct intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance functions. The X-Net radio system performed missile flight control operations and video transmissions for the legacy radios while also allowing the Blackjack missile to select the best radio frequency for its different operations, continuously hopping radio signals to avoid congested frequency bands.
The demonstration shows that the X-Net radio system can work in congested spectrum situations and that it could be an option for contested radio environments. The radio system, for example, could have the capabilities to overcome an adversary’s attempts to jam target radio communications bands. “We were jumping frequencies often because of the different emitters that were out there,” said David Duran, a Raytheon engineer and a member of the demonstration team. “Not once did we get a call or hear from anybody that any of the communications were being stepped on.”