Army looks to harness LTE for battlefield ISR

As mobile technology such as cell phones and tablets continue to gain ground within the armed services, the Army is looking to harness the power of mobile networks to provide even more capabilities.

In a Sources Sought notice released last Friday, the Army’s Communications Electronics Research & Development Engineering Center is looking for companies with experience in designing, developing and implementing cellular Long Term Evolution technology.

CERDEC’s Space & Terrestrial Communication Directorate is particularly interested in adapting the commercial technology to provide soldiers with enhanced communications and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.

LTE is a 4G standard for commercial wireless communication for mobile phones and other devices. About 76 countries around the world use LTE, with the highest penetration rates occurring in countries such as South Korea, Japan, Australia and the United States, according to research done in 2013. In North America alone, LTE provides nearly 127 million connections.

The directorate will be looking at vendors to provide architecture and infrastructure solutions that could be deployed in tactical and multicast environments to provide soldiers in combat operations with voice, video, data, MMS and SMS capabilities.

One example of what the Army is looking for is for secure, high-throughput data communication to soldiers in a complex multi-path environment, according to the solicitation. The Army is hoping that would allow soldiers to have improved situational awareness and data access while also increasing soldier mobility.

Other solutions the Army is looking for include power consumption in terms of form factor, supporting multiple radio heads, a scalable and upgradable architecture, support for encryption capabilities, and full motion video for four or more end users.

The Army tested equipment package that featured a 4G LTE infrastructure earlier this year to support the Network Integration Evaluation 14.2. That infrastructure allowed soldiers within an entire forward operating base to use a secure battlefield network with their smartphones, according to an Army release.

About the Author

Joey Cheng is an editorial fellow with Defense Systems.

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