Harris Introduces New Narrowband Waveform for Coalition Forces

By Vivienne Machi
U.S. soldiers set up AN/PRC-155 (Manpack) radios at Fort Bliss, Texas.

Photo: Army

PARIS — Harris Communications has developed a new narrowband waveform for international and coalition forces that offers more efficiency and increased range while reducing latency, said one company official. 

The tactical networking waveform, dubbed TNW-75, provides a streamlined way of delivering data at the company level and below, said Jeff Kroon, director of engineering of global network products for Harris Communications. It was first announced June 11 at the biennial Eurosatory air and land defense conference outside of Paris.

“We wanted to provide … a combination of capabilities right in the middle of the network,” he told National Defense.

A wideband waveform is typically needed in order to service a large number of endpoints or nodes, he said. “What we found was that with many of our customers, there just weren’t enough wideband frequencies to … service a whole army, nor were the existing solutions resilient,” he added. Many wideband waveforms aren’t necessarily frequency-hopping, which helps to boost resiliency, he noted.

Spectrum availability is a pervasive issue for global militaries, as is the issue of latency when employing competitive or legacy very-high-frequency networks that use a lot of bandwidth, Kroon said. The TNW-75 provides the user with a “flattened network” that reduces latency by nearly a factor of 10, down to less than seven seconds depending on the architecture, he added

That can make a significant difference for operators in the field, he noted. 

“If I’m getting position location information and it’s 50 seconds to 100 seconds old, that means I can’t really trust whether I can fire in an area or whether my units are safe or not,” he said.

Another benefit from the waveform is it helps to eliminate the joints in the network where two radios must be connected back to back to stitch the architecture together, he noted.

“Those joints are vulnerabilities, meaning if that vehicle or if that station is either out of the range or compromised somehow, you lose network connectivity,” he added. “By using a flattened architecture like this, we actually eliminate a lot of the joints and make a much more resilient network. … The network can suffer outages and [it] won’t disconnect.” 

The TNW-75 has allowed users to achieve a range of over 20 kilometers from point to point during testing, Kroon said. It has been run on the company’s 7850 family of radios, and is compatible with airborne, ground and man-portable software-defined systems, he added.

The waveform is initially targeted at the international market, but is also applicable to any U.S. military outfit, Kroon said.

“We developed it on our own dime seeing the gap between what our users needed — which is this very reliable, range-extended network which we can achieve with this waveform — versus the amount of spectrum they had if we tried to solve the whole problem with wideband,” he said.

As armies around the globe are looking to modernize key capabilities, Harris believes the TNW-75 will provide the connectivity units need without sacrificing bandwidth, he noted.

“We looked at the competing solutions and saw that they were very high in their latencies,” he said. “We felt like our customers were going to be very unsatisfied with something with that high a latency as they progress towards this modernization including [building management systems], command and control, all those types of applications riding on this fairly large network.

Kroon did not comment on any potential customers for the TNW-75, but noted it is positioned to be competitive and aimed toward new requirements stemming from major international army modernization programs

“It certainly is going to target coalition forces around the world,” he added. “It seems to fix a real set of problems that deploying armies have.”

Topics: International, Tactical Communications, Network Defense, Land Forces

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