Zayad was designed as an evolving system that could accommodate enhancements including information sharing, accessibility, cross-network connectivity and broadband communications. However, the fact that legacy radio systems will remain for decades necessitates the use of several levels of communications—all capable of maintaining connectivity and redundancy under battlefield conditions, such as adverse weather, natural or man-made interference, or hostile electronic attack.
Central to meeting this challenge is software-defined radio (SDR). Elbit Systems subsidiary Tadiran has responded by developing the SDR-7200 radio, a family of vehicular and man-portable digital radios that flexibly support different users with broadband, voice and data, while matching legacy waveforms when needed. These sets enable the army to enhance some networks without replacing all legacy radio systems.
Two Israeli companies, meanwhile, are developing networks based on a “militarized commercial standard” that could complement Zayad. Rafael, the broadband network subcontractor for Zayad, has developed TacMAX, employing the latest WiMax (8.2.16e) commercial standard, which is likely to support the system in future generations. The TacMAX includes a family of base stations, repeater stations and mobile stations capable of delivering high-quality video, data and voice. TacMAX uses the 700-mhz band, which allows it to work with fewer base stations, covering larger cells, compared to other Wi-Fi systems that work in the 2.1-2.5-ghz waveband.
Rafael is designing TacMAX to be rapidly deployable, supporting division and brigade level communications with broadband data networking, as well as providing broadband connectivity for coastal and border security networks. The system can also be used to enhance service for current mobile subscribers requiring ultra-high data rates.
IAI-Elta is offering an alternative militarized COTS solution, based on the Fourth-Generation Long-Term Evolution (4G/LTE) communications standard and aimed at air, land, fire control and naval forces. The land-networking segment operates as a stand-alone system designated TAC4G, providing full broadband networking for land and low-level manned and unmanned aircraft, unmanned ground vehicles and unattended sensors. The system is designed to support users moving at up to 350 kph.
A different application, known as C3Strike, provides a unique segment supporting command, control and communications dedicated for precision attack and guided weapons. Elta Systems considered WiMax but opted for 4G/LTE for its better flexibility and support of maneuvering forces.
Elta adds advanced security layers—encryption, information protection and cyber defense—to the basic 4G/LTE standard. The company says that an important advantage of the 4G/LTE standard is that a military user could exploit commercial infrastructure to deploy its secure networks. Like commercial 4G/LTE networks, TAC4G will support smartphones, handsets and video, transferring up to 150 mbps back and forth. Elta Systems has already developed an Android-based, ruggedized user set which could use 4G/LTE modems to carry secure, protected communications.