Germany picks its lead vendor for European tactical radio program

COLOGNE, Germany – The German defense ministry has designated radio specialist Rohde und Schwarz as the national lead toward the development of a tactical radio for European land forces.

The designation follows German lawmakers' approval late last year to join the European Secure Software Defined Radio, or ESSOR. The project aims to unify radio equipment operated by land forces on the continent, eventually replacing national variants with a common system.

Having hardware that allows multinational troops to communicate seamlessly on the battlefield is a key premise of the European Union’s push for greater military prowess. The ESSOR program, founded in 2008, is managed by OCCAR, a pan-European defense-acquisition agency.

Besides Germany, the other members of the radio program are Finland, France, Italy, Poland and Spain. Their national industry leads are, respectively, Bittium, Thales, Leonardo, Radmor and Indra. All companies are represented in the a4ESSOR joint venture.

Rohde und Schwarz joins the effort as the “Operational Capability 1” phase, centered on a high data rate waveform, has been underway since 2017. That stage “defines the joint development and updating of an interoperable, trustworthy, robust and wideband radio waveform for connected armed forces,” the company said in a statement.

The Munich-based company plans to bring its SOVERON D radio to the program, which is slated for delivery to the German armed forces sometime this year.

The European radio program also has its feet in the pool of PESCO initiatives, designed to foster multinational defense projects within the bloc by ways of subsidies from the envisioned European Defence Fund.

Under the EU umbrella, officials hope to develop additional waveforms, “for example for specific use cases for air-based operations,” reads the Rohde und Schwarz statement.

The U.S. Joint Tactical Radio System’s software communication architecture serves as the blueprint for ESSOR, according to the program management agency.

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