Communicating on the Battlefield

To enable the Signal Wireless Operators (subscribers) to communicate effectively in the battlefield where there is unlikely to be a noise free transmission path, the normal analogue signal processing was replaced by digital signal processing. To form a communication network covering the battlefield area, a computer controlled network of message switching centres, interconnected by means of multi-channel radio relay links, was designed and constructed.

Connected to this Trunk Network were local exchanges or Access Nodes and Mobile Subscriber Centrals. The Access Nodes served groups of static subscribers, whilst the Mobile Subscriber Centrals served mobile subscribers within their radio range. With this communication system subscribers were able to route and re-route information containing speech, data, and facsimile between static and mobile switchboards.

The Net Radio provided the prime means of communication in the highly mobile forward area, allowing subscribers using man-portable and vehicle mounted radios in highly mobile units forward of Brigade to keep in constant contact. With the Single Channel Radio Access (SCRA) system an extension of the Trunk Network communication system, selected subscribers were able, without compromising their mobility, to have access to the rear tactical area immediately behind Brigade HQ. This technology was the fore-runner of the mobile phone. By linking with the SKYNET the troops in the forward area can keep in touch with HQ located in another country.

HOBART and its predecessor MALLARD was an advanced computer controlled digital communication system which involved new methods of transmitting data and speech. SRDE built up a considerable expertise in the software required for the complex switching required for the computer control. The first of these telecommunication networks was later superseded by the PTARMIGAN system, which is a complete mobile system providing secure telephone, fax and data facilities and was first deployed in the Gulf War.

The Clansman radio is currently being used in the Afghanistan war, nearly 30 years after it was introduced.

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