Communications-technology company Persistent Systems is outfitting the U.S. Air Force’s mobility command with hundreds of radios and erectable antennas to soup up logistics in remote environments and disaster-relief operations.
The MPU5 handheld radios furnished under a $5.1 million contract can share voice, video and text, as well as positioning and sensor data, and the antennas further extend connectivity. The tech is a major step up from the old “walkie-talkie” radios sometimes found in the field, the company said in a statement.
“Our MPU5s deliver robust, secure, broadband line-of-sight and beyond-line-sight communications, and they do so without Air Force personnel having to rely on third-party infrastructure, which is key in a contested environment,” Adrien Robenhymer, Persistent’s vice president of business development for Air Force and intelligence community programs, said in a statement.
The equipment will be used by contingency response groups, which quickly deploy to establish command and control, maintenance and refueling hubs where military infrastructure is otherwise lacking.
As the Pentagon prepares for potential fights in the Indo-Pacific and Europe, the Air Force is pursuing what’s known as agile combat employment. The ACE concept envisions a hub-and-spoke layout of bases — some large and fixed, others small and mobile — that will scatter supplies and manpower.
Dated lines of communication could stunt the process.
“Persistent’s [mobile ad hoc networking] products extend the enterprise to the tactical edge and allow full situational awareness even in austere environments,” Robenhymer said.
The Air Force last year tapped Persistent to provide seamless networking for security operations at three U.S. intercontinental ballistic missile bases.
In that deal, worth nearly $76 million, the company planned to roll out its Infrastructure-based Regional Operation Network, or IRON, to link patrolling security personnel with faraway operations centers and to keep an eye out for intruders.
Persistent said some 700 IRON assets would be installed across Malmstrom, Minot and F.E. Warren Air Force bases in Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming, respectively.
Colin Demarest is a reporter at C4ISRNET, where he covers military networks, cyber and IT. Colin previously covered the Department of Energy and its National Nuclear Security Administration — namely Cold War cleanup and nuclear weapons development — for a daily newspaper in South Carolina. Colin is also an award-winning photographer.