Persistent Systems
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Tactical Radio Turns into Network Rig

July 28, 2022
By joining design teams, Persistent Systems LLC and Thales were able to merge the capabilities of tactical and MANET radios into a combined, cable-connected unit.

By combining their talents, Persistent Systems LLC and Thales created a rugged tactical radio that also can provide secure networked communications on the battlefield. The radio joins a reliable Persistent MPU5 networking radio with an AN/PRC-148E Spear tactical radio from Thales (see figure).

As Shane Flint, vice-president of business development at Persistent Systems explains, “Imagine a helicopter transmitting on an AM frequency to a dismounted ground team. With traditional tactical radios, some users might receive the helicopter’s transmission and other users might not.”

He points out the benefits of the combined radio architecture: “With a Spear/MPU5-equipped team, if any single Spear radio receives the helicopter’s transmission, the entire team will receive it.”

The radio uses the MANET radio-over-Internet-protocol (IP) capability to provide dependable in-field network communications. The tactical portion, the AN/PRC-148E Spear radio, weighs only 1.24 lbs. and incorporates programmable cryptography supporting the requirements of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) crypto modernization program.

The Spear radio connects to the MPU5 MANET portion by means of a special cable that allows the networking radio to remotely configure settings and channel presets automatically on the tactical radio. Flint noted, “This capability was designed for combat operations, based on real-world feedback. The goal was to deliver a simple, no-fail solution that empowers the warfighter.”