Mastodon Design Scourge Antenna for the Dismounted Soldier Kit

Today’s soldier is often required to carry multiple radio systems for a single mission.  As a retired Combat Controller, it didn’t take long to see the many benefits of swapping traditional handheld tactical radio antennas with Mastodon antennas.  Additionally, most “next-generation” radios have dual channels and GPS; therefore, a single device may require three or more antennas.  On today’s battlefield, and certainly the next contested/ near-peer fight, soldiers will depend on a multitude of communication networks and Video Downlink (VDL) feeds to enhance combat effectiveness.  While these communication networks improve situational awareness, force protection, and lethality, they also can be cumbersome and impractical for a dismounted soldier who must carry multiple antennas to utilize them.

 

Traditional tactical radio antennas snag on equipment, interfere with line of sight, and create a sizeable visual profile of the soldier, making them an easier target.  Many soldiers fold the antennas or remote them to their back to reduce signature and interference with their primary mission tasks, but these “fixes” significantly reduce antenna performance.

 

Mastodon Design’s RF engineers have decades of experience designing tactical radios and antennas.  Mastodon Design’s Scourge antennas are a family of flexible, ultra-lightweight antennas designed for tactical military operations.  Utilizing the help of real-world SOF inputs, the Scourge antenna was designed to be routed through MOLLE and uses a TNC connector to work with fielded tactical radios.  The streamlined design allows soldiers to weave the antenna through their equipment to reduce target profile, save space, and prevent snags while increasing their communication signal gains. These antennas are currently being fielded by USSOCOM units and provide increased range and performance with a drastic reduction in size, weight, and profile.

The Scourge antennas work with the dismounted soldier kit in a way that does not impede their movement, create snag hazards, or reduce antenna performance.  Additionally, the antenna’s placement over the soldier’s shoulder alleviates poor performance in the prone position. Whereas, this design improves omnidirectional performance caused by body masking.  This positioning also eliminates the “cone of silence” that occurs directly above a traditional antenna, a common problem with helicopter operations.

Mastodon Design Scourge antennas are a must for anyone in the communications business while on the battlefield.

Viasat: Communications-on-the-Move, Mobile Satellite Broadband, No Matter Where You Are

If you are in the military tactical communications systems business, you’ve seen broadband “Communications-on-the-Move” (COTM) promised by many satellite terminal vendors.  Many of those vendors do not tell you that their ability to provide said services depends on tenuous lashups with satellite companies, exorbitant bandwidth costs, and dead spots in your required area of coverage.  I’ve planned missions for and used many satellite terminals over my active duty years, but only one mobile broadband satellite solutions provider has delivered consistently:  Viasat.  Their success comes from their end-to-end integration capabilities, including satellite, terminal, and managed services.

 

Viasat has built and launched a high capacity, commercial Ka-band satellite constellation that is still growing.  In 2022 Viasat-3 will launch.  Once fully completed, Viasat will be able to provide complete global connectivity and provide high capacity satellite WiFi anywhere at “60 times more affordable” and “15 times more capacity than DoD satellites”. (https://www.viasat.com/products/government-high-capacity-satellites).

 

Viasat has been the lead satellite modem developer for over a decade.  Their modems are the de facto DoD-standard.  You can tailor your terminal for EBEM, LinkwayS2, or CBM-400 modems, with CBM-400 providing quad-band (X, C, Ka, Ku) access, diverse network topologies (including full mesh), and the most bandwidth (up to 400 Mbps (waveform dependent)).  Viasat offers several preconfigured satellite terminals for air, land, and maritime uses, but you can tailor your terminal to your specific needs.

 

Along with the satellite modem development, Viasat has been a leader in communications security equipment development and communications protocol development.  For example, the NSA Type 1 KG-255X HAIPE Inline Encryptor has enabled faster network speeds (2Gbps) for secure networks up to TS/SCI.  It can operate in Layer 3 HAIPE mode to maintain interoperability with their older, but still widely used, KG-250X, or as a VLAN/Ethernet tunneling on Layer 2.

 

Finally, there are the various services they provide.  You can choose to run your own network and only call for training, technical support, or repair/warranty support.  In this complex communication environment, with rapid deployments, using Network Operations and Management services from Viasat on a private IP network is a better choice.  Viasat’s Network Operations and Management services can provide:

 

  • Performance Monitoring and Fault Resolution
  • Traffic Management and Beam Optimization
  • Provisioning, Commissioning, and Configuration Management

 

Viasat’s ability to provide satellite broadband communications on the move is based on their end-to-end integration of the entire communications and services path, as I’ve briefly outlined.  With highly talented, expert satellite, communications, and cybersecurity personnel, Viasat is a winning option as your tactical network provider.  If you would like to explore that option, contact us at Quantico Tactical.

Stalker – The Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Targeting System

The Safran Optics 1 STALKER is a lightweight, handheld, day/night target acquisition, surveillance, and reconnaissance device that is capable of locating targets even in adverse weather conditions. It is extremely lightweight and has an intuitive user-friendly interface. It is reliable in all weather conditions and allows operators unprecedented situational awareness for a variety of missions. It also has outstanding C4I (command, control, communication, computers, and intelligence) capabilities, along with multiple interfaces including RS-232 and USB for data exchange with other devices. It has three observation modes to detect targets: Direct View Day Optics, Low Light CMOS Optics, and LWIR Thermal Imager.

STALKER is a similar device to the Optics 1 MOSKITO TI, but has an integrated SAASM (Selective Availability Anti-Spoofing Module) GPS. It utilizes the unmatched L1/L2 antenna and uses a Class 1 eye-safe laser capable of ranging over 5,000m in harsh conditions and up to 10,000m in good condition environments. Stalker utilizes a lower power consuming digital magnetic compass to determine azimuth and inclination and has an operational run time of over 3.5hrs (dependent on mission profile).

Key Features:
• Three observation modes:
o Direct view day
o Low light
o LWIR Thermal
• Target detection and acquisition
• Ranges up to 10,000m (conditions dependent)
• Integrated with a digital magnetic compass
• Integrated with SAASM GPS

ATAK Enabling Technology with PLRF25C

Android Tactical Assault Kit, ATAK, is an app-based technology to support complex communication and coordination.  ATAK utilizes Blue Force Tracking technology to track team members in real-time.  ATAK is beneficial for large-scale operations and small tactical teams; it also allows users to communicate via text or file sharing.  The users can also identify points of interest, terrain, weather, and other topographical elements.  ATAK gives the operators enhanced real-time situational awareness.

 

PLRF25C (Pocket Laser Rangefinder)

The Safran Optics 1 PLRF25C is a reconnaissance, surveillance, and targeting device that provides accurate distance and angle measurements (conditions dependent) in a lightweight and rugged, compact unit. It is the smallest eye-safe laser rangefinder in its class designed for single-handed use with a one-button function by snipers/spotters, marksmen, and forward observers. The PLRF25C will measure and display distance, azimuth, inclination angle, and the horizontal and vertical distance of the target. It even has an optional fall of shot calculator.

 

 

 

PLFR25C / ATAK Integration

The PLRF25C with Bluetooth can wirelessly transmit azimuth, elevation, and LRF distance information to ATAK, automatically populating the target location onto the user’s ATAK map for situational awareness or targeting.

 

Highlights:

  • MIL-STD-810 ruggedized
  • Small and compact Laser Rangefinder for single-handed use
  • 6x magnification
  • Ranges up to 6000m
  • Bluetooth capable and connects ATAK and Kestrel® with Applied Ballistics
  • External GPS (Rockwell Collins DAGR / PLGR II / PLGR +96)

ATAK Enabling Technology with ECOTI

Android Tactical Assault Kit, ATAK, is a game-changer for increasing situational awareness and is ideal for law enforcement and military operators. ATAK is app-based and available to all government agencies and provides the ability to view the location of various elements within the area of operation. The system utilizes Blue Force Tracking to track team members in real-time and help coordinate movements.  ATAK also uses Red Force Tracking to see where “bad guys” and dangerous elements may be. Operators can view entered points of interest like terrain, topographical elements, and even weather. It also enables encrypted data communication like text and file sharing (i.e., photos and videos) for user-to-user, user-to-team, user-to-command, or user-to-entire force communications, which was never before available until ATAK.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HdNy0YBfEvU

 

ECOTI (Enhanced Clip-on Thermal Viewer)

The Safran Optics 1 ECOTI is a night vision enhancement and visual augmentation system that provides unmatched detection capability and situational awareness by adding a long wave infrared thermal overlay on the user’s night vision device. It bears a lightweight, compact design and significantly increases an operator’s ability to detect and eliminate threats. It has low-power consumption, thermal sensor technology, and high-performance optics that integrate seamlessly. ECOTI is designed for low-light and no-light environmental conditions such as dense foliage, caves, and tunnel systems.

 

WITHOUT ECOTI                                                  WITH ECOTI

 

             

 

WITHOUT ECOTI                                                  WITH ECOTI

            

 

ECOTI / ATAK Integration

The ECOTI integrates with ATAK and acts as a heads up display, HUD. The Augmented Reality, AR, capability connects to the app and aids in identifying teammates and targets, while also providing point-to-point navigation, allowing for a heads up and hands-free operation.

             

             

ECOSI (Enhanced Clip-on SWIR Imager)

The Safran Optics 1 ECOSI bears the same lightweight, compact design, yet offers a different, critical technology. It adds a short wave infrared overlay on to the user’s night vision device. It can see out of band markers, designators, strobes, beacons, and pointers that operate in the SWIR spectrum, undetectable by standard NVDs. It allows JTACs, JFOs, and FOs, to view laser makers and designators during day or night operations. Like the ECOTI, ECOSI connects to ATAK to provide AR and HUD capability.

 

ECOSI can be used during the day when attached to the Optics 1 Daytime See-Spot 2x Extender. This accessory provides See-Spot, PRF code counting, and zoom capability all in a small handheld or rail mountable configuration.

 

Key Features:

  • Overlay on to the I2 scene and does not require modification to existing hardware
  • Heads up display capability that shows COT icons for situational awareness and route navigation
  • Powered by a single CR123 battery and/or connects to an external battery pack
  • Waterproof up to 20 meters
  • Built-in 16GB SD card for image capture
  • Can be used during the day or night, mounted to NVGs or handheld

ECOTI

Two thermal detection modes:

  1. White Hot
  2. Black Hot

Three observation modes:

  1. Full Thermal
  2. Patrol
  3. Outline

 

ECOSI
Two polarity modes:

  1. White observe
  2. Black observe

Two observation modes:

  1. See-Spot
  2. Pointer

CineMassive Expeditionary Visualization Systems

Having served in a variety of staffs, from the squadron to a Marine Force component as an S6/G6, there were few technology solutions more difficult to fully utilize than video teleconference systems (VTCs) and the video wall displays in both garrison and tactical conference rooms.  Video walls and their remote control systems had never been standardized, so the variations I experienced were vast, but the problems were similar:

  • Unfamiliar and/or difficult to operate user interface
  • Screens that flicker or do not work reliably
  • Poorly documented systems with little or no user guide help
  • Countless other network gremlins that show up at only the most important meetings

 

Inevitably there was always an issue that just made the video wall not work unless a special contractor with magic fairy dust made it suddenly work.  Given their expense, video walls were not easily replaced without proper budget planning.  They were also heavy, delicate, and not expeditionary – even the video walls we put into bulky, often homemade, embarkation cases, and deployed anyway.  CineMassive would have answered my prayers back then, so they may be the answer to your prayers now if you’re struggling with an outdated, difficult to operate, or even broken video wall.

 

CineMassive’s video wall offerings are impressive and they offer full-service support for them.  For brevity, I will only focus on their expeditionary and tactical visualization systems although they have solutions that support fixed rooms as well.  The heart of their expeditionary capability is their Alpha FX Stryke or Alpha FX Stryke SR processors.

 

The Alpha FX Stryke processor is rugged (no moving parts, MIL-STD-810G certification pending), man-portable (fits in a backpack and weighs 12 lbs), will work on battery backup if needed, and can support four 4K HDMI inputs and outputs.  Pre-loaded with the CineNet control software, it’s intuitive to set up varying screen layouts that the user, or command center, or commander’s conference room support, can easily understand and configure without calling for technical assistance.

 

The Alpha FX Stryke SR processor is semi-rugged, weighs 5 lbs. (fits in a backpack), and supports four 4K HDMI inputs and outputs. The Alpha FX Stryke SR is equipped with CineNet control software.

 

The Alpha FX Stryke and Alpha FX Stryke SR will work with any display (or projector). As an additional option, CineMassive has two kits that provide a ruggedized carrying case and a 2 X 2 industrial-grade 4K LCD video wall display (that’s four 22-inch LCD displays with 1920X1080 resolution).

If you need a larger video wall and you don’t have to hand carry it all in, you can opt for the Scalable Mobile Display (SMD) option.  This turn-key video wall system comes packed in rugged transport cases, requires no tools to put together, and includes the Alpha FX video wall processor, 10-inch touch screen with CineNet software, CineView LCD displays, mounting frame, all cables, and connectors.  The SMD option comes in 2 X 2, 4 X 2, or 6 X 2 display configurations with standard 12 video capture ports (can go up to 28).  Those video capture ports are where the various PCs/laptops, TV tuners, and VTC codecs plug in to be displayed simultaneously.  The COC can be up in minutes.

As easy as the SMD is to set up, configure, and operate, I would still recommend getting their onsite training package and GuardianCare 24/7 support.  CineMassive will support training OCONUS and will provide both remote and on-site support via GuardianCare.

 

It’s everything I needed, but just did not have, for an expeditionary video wall.

Panasonic Toughbook Series FZ-N1 Tactical

Have you ever dropped a smartphone, even one that you’ve spent the extra money for the hardened case that surrounds it, and still have the screen crack?  Do you work outside, in the rain, with gloves on and get frustrated because you cannot get your smartphone to work in the rain, or with gloves?  Do you get frustrated not being able to see your screen while outside on a sunny day?  How many times have you looked around for a power outlet because your phone was about to die and you wished you could just replace the battery?  If those scenarios describe your frustrations with your current smartphone, then please let me introduce the new Panasonic Toughbook FZ-N1 Tactical, the Fully Rugged Android handheld that solves those problems.

Most know the N1 as the built-in scanning device that delivery service carriers have to scan the packages as they deliver them, but this new N1 Tactical will not have the scanner.  The first version of the scanner-less N1 was a Wi-Fi device only, but with its rugged (MIL-STD-810G and IP 65/66/67/68), small form factor, and consistent size, weight, and power in versions, it was a logical choice to implement for tactical handhelds.  Panasonic listened to their customers and the N1 Tactical to be released in July, 2020, will come in Wi-Fi only, one SIMM, or dual SIMM versions (AT&T and Verizon, FirstNet capable), and all variants will be the same size, weight, and power.  Full specifications have not yet been released, but it will come with a Multi-core Qualcomm CPU capable of supporting Android 9 or 10 OS, which is capable of running the latest versions of ATAK, APAS, or other situational awareness applications and plugins.   The 4.7 inch HD 1280 x 720 screen is daytime viewable.  With its 10-point capacitive, multi-touch display, the N1 works in the rain and with gloves with the Panasonic patented rain sensing and glove input modes.  It will have two cameras, full HD 5MP in the front and 8MP rear.  It comes with a 12-hour removable, warm swappable battery that can fully recharge within two hours.  All N1 variants come with three programmable buttons, so all those applications you would want to get to quickly can be programmed to show up (or go away) at the push of a button.

Quantico Tactical worked with Juggernaut Design and developed cases and cables for the N1.  You can choose a Fischer connector to plug directly into an L3Harris AN/PRC-152A side hat adapter, or a Nett-Warrior standard cable that will plug into any of GlenAir’s StarPan hubs.  The latter option is particularly useful since the N1 will charge while in use, giving you even more time to complete the mission.  To make it easy for customers, we are working with Panasonic to list the Nett Warrior case/cable solution with Panasonic as an available-to-order accessory.

Panasonic’s three year warranty is the best out there, so if you and/or your team are really rough on your handheld devices, you can still get support.  In the rare event of a failure, devices will be delivered overnight, at no expense to you, to and from the US-based service center with a sub 2-day average repair turnaround.  For any technical issues, you can leverage the 24/7 US based technical support hotline, 1-800-LAPTOP5.  You can also have the peace of mind that when a new version comes out that you can still use the same cases and cables as you have previously, which is not only a significant cost savings, but allows you to keep your kit exactly the way you had it.

If you are interested in the N1 Tactical, you can contact us at Quantico Tactical.

Advanced Technology Designed for Military and First Responders

Often we discuss new gear that makes the mission better or helps achieve success.  Sometimes, you need to take a step back and look at what just makes everything better, including the day-to-day necessary tasks.

Kopis Mobile is an advanced technology company that caters to the US Military and first responders.  Kopis has designed a mobile application to give users a streamlined process to enter and track data through six independent products.

  • Fastform 1306
  • ERSA
  • Fastform Readiness
  • MMRIS
  • NTtv
  • MVDVR

 

Fastform 1306 is specifically designed in conjunction with the DA Form 1306.  Writing the manifest DA Form 1306 by hand has been the only way to do this since a manifest was required by the military.  Kopis developed the Fastform 1306 to ensure maximum efficiency by cutting time spent on the manifest.

The Fastform 1306 automatically generates a PDF of the entire manifest so the loadmaster can email, print, or share the manifest in record time from a tablet or cell phone.  With a CAC reader, the Fastform 1306 App downloads all the needed information directly to the manifest, instead of writing down each jumper’s name and rank. With the Fastform 1306 you can edit all the details surrounding the jump, such as; type of jump, aircraft, right or left door, lift and pass, and the designated drop zone.

Video

ERSA is a state-of-the-art wireless communication system that enables chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosives, CBRNE, sensors to send real-time readings to hazmat commanders or Incident Commanders (IC). ERSA is specifically designed for first responders and provides first responders with the ability to maintain a clear line of communication and exact location of all their forces in the field during an emergency. Essentially, the ERSA program provides the IC with all pertinent information in real-time and allow the IC to control the situation from the start with no miscommunication.

As any IC knows, the ability to control the situation without worrying about equipment or personnel in wrong locations is paramount to the success and mitigation of the incident. The Kopis ERSA works as a long-range radio, capable of reaching up to 15 KM and last up to 10 hours on 2 CR123A batteries.

Video

Kopis has designed the most revolutionary method of processing soldiers.  Fastform Readiness is a system specifically to monitor and download unit readiness plans with a simple click of a button.  The Fastform Readiness app doesn’t need DOD networks to operate and they can automatically send reminders on medical, dental and OER/NCOER appointments.  The Fastform Readiness app can even take accountability measures through CAC cards.  This product will cut down on paperwork time and process entire units within minutes instead of hours.

 

Mapping & Multimedia Radio Infrastructure System, MMRIS, is designed for military and law enforcement agencies.  The MMRIS works exclusively with the Blue Force Tracking system for the US military. It works with Icom IDAS and P25 Digital Radios along with long-distance access to other radios as far as 17 KM. This system allows soldiers and law enforcement to send group messages, pictures of the Area of Operation, AO, and remote control of a radio. The MMRIS connects to a satellite (GPS) and offers a topographic view of the terrain for real-time mission planning and understanding.

 

Network-Tactical Television, NTtv, is a 1st-person video-sharing system that is designed to connect to multiple video streams in real-time. This system is designed to connect to any smart device, such as IOS and Android platforms. Once the device is connected to the NTtv encoder, you’ll have access to live video feeds that can be work on your body, vehicles, building, and even an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The NTtv has built-in thermal imaging to provide clear footage at night for those special operators who work when we’re asleep. NTtv can store up to 30 hours of video footage that can be shared with whomever you want and will run for 7-9 hours before needing to replace the batteries.

 

The Multiple Video Digital Video Recorder, MVDVR, allows the operator to review real time footage using multiple video recording devices.  This is similar to the way your DVR works at home watching one show while recording another at the same time.  The MVDVR has the ability to export recordings to multiple devices and play up to four recordings at once all while ensuring that all systems are time-synchronized.  This system gives first responders and military personnel the ability to use these recordings to provide a step-by-step evaluation of their work.  There is no doubt the MVDVR will enhance the level of training you conduct and streamline your AAR’s for maximum efficiency.

 

Innovative Hearing Protection

Innovative hearing protection technology provides exceptional situational awareness for greater tactical success

OTTO Engineering is collaborating with tactical operators in all branches of the military to design and manufacture a better type of hearing protection for today’s soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and federal agent. The goal is to enhance, rather than inhibit, combat performance. The result is OTTO’s NoizeBarrier® line of hearing protection. The NoizeBarrier® Micro electronic earplugs and the NoizeBarrier® TAC headset give today’s soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen the hearing protection they need with the advanced situational awareness and communications clarity required to prevail in combat. In addition, OTTO’s Multiport Hub PTT simplifies communications with advanced audio steering to minimize distractions when using multiple communications devices.

 

Proprietary NoizeBarrier® technology can enhance combat performance in three ways:

 

  1. Detect Threats with Greater Accuracy

Instead of dampening sounds completely and compromising the ability to hear what’s happening nearby, the NoizeBarrier® TAC headset and NoizeBarrier® Micro electronic earplugs feature proprietary technology that actually improves situational awareness. NoizeBarrier® technology enhances low frequency sounds, like nearby voices and movement, and minimizes distracting and damaging noises to enable soldiers to hear essential commands and approaching danger with greater clarity. With the NoizeBarrier® true 360-degree soundscape, soldiers can easily determine with near certainty the direction sounds are coming from and how far they are away from the current location.

 

The NoizeBarrier® Micro electronic earplugs take situational awareness to the next level with an enhanced mode that provides 5X amplification of soft sounds. With enhanced mode on, soldiers can hear clearer than ever, providing greater safety in the field. When quick reactions matter, verbal commands issued in barely detectible whispers and sounds as minimal as clothes brushing against skin can be clearly heard and quickly pinpointed. In combat, soldiers can identify potential threats and recognize friendly forces faster and with greater certainty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          

  1. Improve Communications Clarity

With NoizeBarrier® hearing protection, soldiers do not have to rely on their ability to interpret hand motions or read lips to react quickly and follow orders. Proprietary situational awareness technology allows normal-level sounds to be easily heard, while suppressing loud noise and impulse blasts to internationally accepted safe levels. Verbal commands can be heard completely and clearly without distortion, clipping or cutting out.

The same holds true for incoming radio transmissions for soldiers using the NoizeBarrier® TAC headset. Some headsets indiscriminately distort and cut-out incoming transmissions when the noise in the surrounding environment is too loud. Essential transmissions can be fragmented or even lost, which clearly jeopardizes the safety of the mission. With the NoizeBarrier® TAC there is no clipping of transmitted commands or shut-down of situational awareness, allowing soldiers to remain focused, alert and primed for mission success.

  1. Simplify Control of Communications Devices

In today’s combat arena, soldiers are connected to multiple communication devices. Control of the devices can be distracting and compromise safety and combat performance if not managed well. The Multi-Port Hub PTT is designed to integrate seamlessly with the NoizeBarrier® TAC headset to centralize control of as many as three different communication devices. Incoming transmissions from different devices are sent to separate ears (audio steering) for clarity and safety in critical engagements. In short, the Hub simplifies communications and helps soldiers maintain situational awareness, location awareness (when used with an ATAK-type device), clarity and focus during critical operations.

Heads Up Situational Awareness With Augmented Reality

I wish we had Augmented Reality in my NVG when I was in Afghanistan and Iraq.  We would get lost at night in the “Sneek up” on our route to the Target Area.   Everything looked the same in a city of sand, this way we could just plan our route in ATAK, select it in ARC4, and just follow it in our NVG’s.   Our team would not have to open our phones every 1/8 of a mile.   Our light discipline would be excellent without the exposure of the light coming off the phone and this definitely would have increased our Situational Awareness Perspective.   I could have walked right up to the Soldier I needed and not have to go through 7 other guys that look the same at night.  Motorcycle and ATV Operations would be awesome because you would not have to stop!  “Being able to see past the capability of NVG’s is a game changer!”

Augmented Reality has found its place maximizing the already in use heads up display and navigational 2D data.  ARA has released Augmented Reality Command Control Communicate and Coordinate, ARC4.  This system is currently in use with Air Force Special Operations Command and deployed to Southwest Asia Theater of operations.

The ARC4 offers the unique advantage of using a HUD to show all necessary command and control functions in 3D.  The HUD utilizes a Situational Awareness, SA, ring at the bottom of the screen.  This shows you where you are, where you are looking, where teammates are and where tactical points of interest are around you.  The software is intuitive as it moves to future check points as you progress.  You can also send and receive commands, create new points of interest and define new navigation routes in real time without speaking over comms.  This information can be used and created in real time by both in field personnel or remote higher command.

The all in one Recon device includes all of the necessary sensors to geo-locate the camera and the direction it is looking.  The camera connects via any open port using Black Diamond Assaulter or Glenair cables and hubs.  The cables connect the camera system to a Battle Management Program such as ATAK with the ATAK HUD plugin.  Running that information back to a HUD connecting directly into a clip on night display, or Ecoti/Ecosi for system integration.  The system also has a daytime HUD that integrates in standard mounting gear to place a clear lens to see all of the same information with full daylight.

The ARC4 recon truly is a heads up display that no longer requires you to look down at your map or navigational equipment.  The ARC4 system with a network hub is designed not to eat up too much battery power. Lasting more than 8 hours on a small radio battery is not uncommon.

 

See the ARC4 Details

 

ARC4 table talk

Night Video

Day HUD

Rapid Network Implementation

If there is one thing this pandemic has driven home is that communications capacity planning for an emergency is better done before the need hits.  It’s also better if that plan is exercised periodically to remind ourselves of all the myriad details our information technology and cybersecurity personnel deal with every day to keep us securely connected.  The news feeds are full of the Herculean efforts by major telecommunications companies, software and collaboration services companies, DOD and Federal Agencies, and small businesses to figure out how to turn themselves into nearly 100% teleworking organizations.  Then there are the hospitals and DOD Defense Support to Civil Authorities support missions that suddenly find the need to extend networks to external locations to provide point of care solutions to those locations.  Notwithstanding the growing pains, bandwidth throttling, cybersecurity issues, and successful hacks, like all networks, after some time to “burn in,” things are working.  Now is the time for the IT, Cyber, and Comm folks to grab their operations officers and logistics officers, get a cup of coffee, gather around virtual conference table and write the after action reports.  These should become the lessons learned and the critical purchases/current year deficiency priorities.  What could have been done, done better, or not done at all, to make rapid network expansion easier and secure?  What did your organization need to buy, lease, or subscribe to rapidly to get operational quickly?  Would you choose different solutions now?  Here are some solutions to consider:

 

4G Mobile Broadband Kits (MBKs) were a clear winner for the rapid response deployed capability for COVID response.  Major telecommunications and cellular providers made it easy to get them by adding the MBKs to a subscriber’s bill and delivering them to their customers.  These MBKs are configurable, but generally come in hardened, hand-carry Pelican cases, have configurable firewall, Virtual Private Network and other network capabilities; have 2 GB LAN/WAN port, are battery powered for 4-8 hours, and provide WiFi access for 1-50 users.  These MBKs are widely used throughout US Government Agencies, Military, and Law Enforcement particularly during disaster response.  4K Solutions is the leading provider of MBKs and their products are listed on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s approved products list.

 

RIVA Network’s NanoSat mobile phone network kit is another option and one that will work in areas where there is no public infrastructure to tie into.  RIVA Network’s NanoSat not only comes with the cellular and satellite transmitters, network, battery-backup, and deployable case like the MBKs, RIVA Networks is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) with a Network Operations Center connected to the Global Roaming Alliance.  They can route calls and traffic from anywhere to one’s phone.  One can keep the same phone number no matter where deployed in the world.  It works with all commercial satellite systems, and the cell sites are available in GSM, CDMA, 3G, 4G LTE and WiMax.  It is a complete mobile solution for all mobile devices anywhere one needs to be.

 

If satellite access is the driving factor, Viasat’s AN/TSC-241 Multi-Mission Terminal (MMT), while a larger, but still transportable, solution, delivers IP-based voice, video, and data networks over X-, Ku-, commercial Ka-, and military Ka- bands, including operation with Viasat’s high-capacity network.  A simple change of the feed arm allows allows the terminal to access the specific satellite band.   Combined with a something like PacStar’s 400 Series or Smart Gateway capabilities to implement the IP network or wireless network and one can have a command operations center up and running within 30 minutes (preconfigured, of course, ahead of time).

 

The options available for communications and connectivity are vast beyond these three examples and the decision is an important one.  A number of factors, other than costs, should go into the decision of what an organization buys/leases to be ready for an emergency. I learned these planning factors as ‘DOTMLPF’:  Doctrine, Organization, Training, Material, Leadership, Personnel, and Facilities.  Without getting into full details of a DOTMLPF planning process, it provides a mechanism to think through other employment considerations, including costs, and it is a process I would advise all to apply to any significant purchase or procurement to ensure that the solution meets requirements.  At Quantico Tactical, we work with thousands of great vendors with products that can fit your needs, including those previously discussed.  We can help you find solutions that will best fit your organization’s ability to employ it.