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Defence & DSEi Special The ability to power a system

Awards for Enterprise and Innovation for its own modular manpack EW system, RESOLVE. The required timeframe for deployment of the new MoD system was extremely tight and as a result Roke learned a lot about how to work within such a tight time frame both in terms of the product’s development and its final delivery. As with many military projects today,

the required speed and cost effectiveness of development necessitated the use of a MOTS system. Using MOTS components usually results in a solution with a short lifecycle, but for major military financial investments, this is not acceptable. To reach an effective compromise it

is therefore imperative to build an upgrade solution into an EW development programme. This means that as the MOTS based technologies mature, so improvements can be made to the product, thereby reducing the short-term effects of using MOTs components. This approach meets the immediate need for a functioning system and delivers an instantaneous advantage for troops, but it also allows for a very different system being developed and used in the battlefield over the next decade. Such an approach results in smarter exploitation of the COTS systems, while minimising any compromises as the product develops.

Losing weight For troops on-the-march that are using an EW manpack kit, their two main concerns are weight and volume. An EW manpack system is designed to be carried by three people, along with their usual kit, including life support and combat supplies. However, for an EW manpack system to remain functional, the ‘ruggedized’ requirement to protect equipment in the theatre of operation will often outweigh the ‘portability’ element. The EMC capabilities of a product

are also vital to ensure that there is no interference with other mission-critical systems. Without careful research and development, the consideration of ruggedization and EMC could at least double the size and weight of a system and thus compromise the effectiveness of a manpack system for any troops that are on foot.

effectively while out on operation, away from recharge facilities, is another key consideration. However, as technology advances, so there is an increased requirement for more capability and processing speed from systems. All of these of course represent an increased draw on power, and while these technologies can be packed into an ever smaller box, the batteries to power them cannot. Unfortunately it seems that battery technology is not keeping apace with the development of other technologies such as sensors and computers, which are lightweight and can now be folded and easily collapsed for stowage. Very advanced systems are therefore often powered by old-style rechargeable batteries or primary cells. This adds weight and creates portability issues for dismounted troops, which could result in a significant trade off between performance and power. It is therefore vital to focus R&D on successfully developing a system that not only minimises weight, but which also integrates advanced battery and power management technologies.

Tripartite approach One solution to these issues is to develop an EW manpack system that can be adapted to meet the requirements of specific users and mission profiles. An effective manpack solution should therefore perform three distinct functions with associated levels of functionality to deliver flexibility. For example, a scalable system that can be used statically, on vehicles of opportunity, or on-the- march. This means that while the latter example will perform vital functions for dismounted troops patrolling on foot, it will not have the full capacity of a static environment.

Of course, this tripartite approach also brings trade-offs. One being that the ability to deny signals while using the system in a static environment will not be available to troops on-the- march. However, a distinct advantage that the manpack system now delivers the commander on-the-march is their own mobile capability that will work as long as there is battery life. This reduces their reliance on the use of aircraft to deliver electronic attack and deny enemy signals.

Putting pay to the trade-offs Future developments of EW manpack systems will aim to significantly reduce present trade-offs while increasing functionality even further. Today’s technology has had a major impact on the flexibility and success of missions for dismounted troops. As those technologies develop and are upgraded, so this will deliver troops increased benefits through the more intelligent and ‘joined-up’ use of military assets to reduce timescales and increase effectiveness of missions further.

Roke Manor Research Ltd |

Gavin O’Connell is Electronic Warfare Business Development Manager at Roke Manor Research Components in Electronics July/August 2011 23

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