- Tactical and Joint Communications
- SOF – Special Operations Forces
- Situational Awareness
RapidM Tactical Solutions Overview
The core of our Tactical and Joint Communications Division is our range of RT products.
The RT family achieves secure and robust interoperability between forces – be they dismounted, in vehicles, at sea or at forward or strategic bases.
The continually expanding RapidM RT Product range provides secure voice, position and messaging services. Leading edge waveforms and design provide our rugged products with the most reliable and integrated services on offer.
The RT family of products was developed to provide secure, reliable and interoperable communications to existing radio networks. It provides the end-user with a cost-effective capability upgrade of their existing HF, VHF & UHF radio networks and allows for secure interoperability between different radio vendor equipment.
The diagram above shows various products available in the RT family range and conceptually illustrates how these products communicate through an existing radio network.
The RT product family offers solutions for all deployment types, from foot-soldiers and vehicles to vessels and static infrastructure.
Many countries are facing the difficult task of keeping the communications capabilities in their armed forces up to date. RapidM has designed the RT family of products to meet these challenges. We find the following requirements:
“We would like to digitize all the communications in the armed forces”
“We would like all the radios to interoperate”
The inventory of communication equipment in armed forces often includes previous generation (analogue) radios. Typically military inventory has equipment from diverse manufacturers. These radios would be interoperable using SSB voice or FM voice only.
Some newer equipment may have secure data modes, but more often than not these sets do not interoperate with anything else in the inventory.
The communications resources can present a frustrating mix of capabilities and limitations that do not meet the above requirements and makes the procurement of new equipment complicated.
“RapidM’s RT family provides secure digital services as an add-on”
“RapidM’s RT products allow radios from diverse manufacturers to interoperate”
“RapidM’s RT products can integrate with many types of radios via audio”
The RT family has a complete range of products with secure digital capabilities. These products are suited to a range of deployment scenarios.
The RT products typically contain a Vocoder, thereby allowing voice communications to be digitised. In addition, there is a built-in modem that will transfer digital information (voice or data) across an analogue radio link. In this way, adding the RT products to existing radios will provide a digital communications capability allowing equipment from diverse manufacturers to securely interoperate.
This means that digital communications are possible even with a mix of older and younger generation communication equipment of various types, including HF, VHF and UHF transceivers.
In military scenarios there is very often a requirement for BLOS communications:
“We need Beyond Line-of-Sight (BLOS) communications”
“We need a communications solution in a satellite-denied environment”
Military communications cannot rely on the installation of vulnerable base stations like a mobile phone network.
The reliance on satellites is also often undesirable for various reasons. This leaves many military ground forces relying almost solely on traditional VHF transceivers for short range operations and HF transceivers for long-range use – Beyond Line-of-Sight (BLOS) operations.
“RapidM’s RT products include a very robust modem for use with Beyond-Line-of-Sight (BLOS) HF radio transceivers”
“RapidM’s RT products can be used with long range HF transceivers as well as short range V/UHF transceivers.”
Apart from interoperability, security is always a concern:
“We need to secure our radio communications”
“Secure, reliable and interoperable communications is at the heart of all Tactical and Joint Forces operations”
Information security is very important, especially for strategic HF BLOS or long haul communications. These high-power HF systems, often installed onto naval platforms, represent a sizable investment.
Older analog FM or SSB equipment is clearly open to interception or eavesdropping. Newer equipment may not be trusted for various reasons.
What is needed is a standardised robust encryption capability.
“RapidM’s RT Encryptors use AES-256”
“RapidM’s RT products contain a secure modem for data and voice”
“RapidM’s RT system allows customers to easily generate and manage their Cryptographic Keys”
The addition of an external modem to an existing transceiver allows communications to be encrypted. The RT family of products have a built-in modem and make use of the AES-256 to encrypt all communications, voice or data. This is a standardised trusted algorithm of high integrity.
In addition to secure communications, there is a growing need for easy-to-use, well-integrated communication services that we have become accustomed to from smartphones:
“We need modern communication services like location, voice, text, and file transfer”
“We need user interfaces that are clear and easy-to-use”
“We need Situational Awareness capability”
Mobile phones have created a digital-savvy generation that understands how to make the best use of voice and data. Yet military communication equipment seems to have been left behind. The equipment was most likely designed decades ago and with a long operational lifetime.
There is a strong desire for modern digital communication services to support operations that are becoming more complex over time.
“RapidM’s RT Terminals host a suite of applications”
“RT Equipment was designed to support a military communication doctrine.”
“RapidM’s RT products contain a GPS / GLONASS positioning module”
RapidM’s RT range of Tactical and Touch Screen Terminals are designed to provide an integrated suite of voice and data applications that behave in a mobile phone like manner but are adapted for use in a military context.
Achieving the integration of voice and data services often poses a challenge for systems integrators. The RT equipment and associated PC applications allow users to easily and seamlessly use both voice and data services in the same network and on the same channel.
Situational Awareness provides commanders with the information they need to make the right decisions and to take swift action.
Deployment of RT Products in the Military
The various deployment levels within a military communications network impose varying size, weight, mounting and capability requirements on communications equipment. It is often also the case that radio transceivers from different vendors are used at different deployment levels within a network – thereby preventing interoperability when using the transceivers’ built-in digital capabilities.
“We need our ships to speak securely with vehicle and man-pack units and to monitor the position of both.”
“We are procuring new vehicle radios and need these radios to communicate securely with our existing base-station radio.”
The RT family offers a range of interoperable products that are optimised for different deployment scenarios.
|Rack-mount||Base Station, Vehicle||Base Station, Vehicle, Man-Pack||Vehicle||Wearable|
“RapidM’s RT products are designed for various deployment scenarios”
Ease of Configuration of the RT Family
“What are the processes to configure the nodes in our radio network?”
“How can we change the encryption keys”
RT products are easily configurable, both for cryptographic keys (Key Management Software – KMS) as well as system and network configuration (System Configuration Software – SCS). The configuration is created in a secure area, transported and loaded via a dedicated secure double-wrapped Fill Device.
The diagram above illustrates how the RT5 and RT7 can be configured by a Fill Device carrying the KMS and SCS generated configuration. The RT1 and RT3 require the additional CLS software for configuration.
“RapidM’s RT equipment is easily configured and reconfigured.”
Connection to the fixed infrastructure
Customers often have the need for users in HF or V/UHF radio networks to communicate with users in networks using other infrastructures such as a LAN, the Internet or GSM.
“Will mobile users to able to send email to users on a LAN?”
“We need some way for radio users outside of GSM coverage to send messages to GSM cellular phones.”
The GatePoint software, together with RT modems and terminals, offers users the ability to route emails and SMS messages efficiently and reliably over existing HF and V/UHF radio links. GatePoint is a Microsoft® Windows® application that interfaces between the radio network and the Email and GSM networks (fixed infrastructure). GatePoint allows users in the radio network to exchange SMS messages and Email messages with users in the GSM network and the local intranet or Internet.
“RapidM’s GatePoint Software allows the exchange of messages between radio networks and fixed infrastructures such as an Intranet, the Internet or GSM networks.”
RT Versus RA Families
“What are the differences between RT and the RA product families?”
The RT and RA families consist of similar devices and services but differ as follows:
- The RT family is designed for Military Users and have military grade encryption, ultra low-rate voice coders and require end-user certificates for export.
- The RA family is designed for Commercial Users that require high-grade security, low-rate voice coders and require end country approval for export.
|Security||Military Grade security||AES-256, Key Phrase, 256 keys||✔|
|Government agency||AES-256, 99 keys||✔|
|Ultra-robust Digital Voice||TWELP: 300, 600, 1200, 2400bps||✔|
|Low-rate Digital Voice||MELPe or TWELP: 600, 1200, 2400bps||✔|
|Full – Green Colour||EUC & approval required||✔|
|Partial – Black Colour||End-country approval required||✔|
|RA Family||RT Family|
“RapidM’s RT equipment is designed for military users.”
“RapidM’s RA equipment is designed for commercial and governmental users.”
Export Control Considerations
“Do we need an End-User Certificate (EUC) to buy RT products?”
Export of conventional arms from South Africa is regulated by the Directorate Conventional Arms Control (DCAC). RapidM RT equipment is designed for military use and is therefore fully export controlled.
RapidM fully complies with national export control regulations. It should be noted that the export control process may mean additional order shipment delays in the export of controlled items. RapidM is fully committed to working with our customers to obtain export approval as efficiently and speedily as possible.
The RapidM RA equipment is designed for commercial use. The RA products are classified as Dual-Use items since they include capabilities captured by the Wassenaar Arrangement’s list of dual-use items. Dual-use items are still export controlled, however, fewer control actions are imposed and approval can be obtained faster compared to military items.
“An EUC and Export Permit is required when procuring military RapidM RT equipment.”
“RapidM’s RA equipment is designed for commercial use and classified as Dual-Use. Only an Export Permit is required.”
RT Products complemented by Embedded TC Products
Militaries see value in extending their equipment inventory by adding radios with secure digital capabilities, especially if the existing inventory can be retrofitted to interoperate with the new radios.
“We need new transceivers with digital encryption. How can we use the new radios in the same network as our existing radios?”
The RT family system can work directly with new transceivers that make use of embedded RapidM TC modules. This offers radio manufacturers a suite of ancillary devices and software to complement their modern radio offering.
The diagram above shows how a CommandPoint terminal can be connected to a radio with an embedded RapidM modem module. Connections are typically via Ethernet.
New radio designs that incorporate RapidM TC modules are supported by the RT family of products that provide the same capabilities to existing radios in the customer’s inventory.
“RapidM’s RT products can interoperate with radios that use RapidM TC modules.”
RT Digital Voice and Data Modem Performance
“Voice is still our most important part of communications”
“Our existing data modem and digital voice only works when the channel is good”
“When conditions are difficult, we have to fall back to unencrypted analogue voice.”
RT Tactical devices incorporate RapidM’s leading-edge modem technology based on enhanced STANAG 4538. This provides robust and reliable beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) communications even deep into the noise, meaning connectivity when it matters most.
RT equipment uses a very high performance RapidM proprietary digital voice modem design. The HF-1 Digital Voice Modem is specially designed and optimised for secure digital voice, significantly outperforming solutions using existing MIL-STD modem waveforms. When HF-1 is combined with the TWELP low data rate Vocoders the result is extended range and better voice quality.
The diagram above provides performance specifications for the RT family products in terms of over-the-air noise performance. It charts throughput (vertical axis, measured in bits per second) versus channel noise (horizontal axis, measured in signal to noise ratio). Noteworthy is that the RT devices provide data and secure voice connectivity even in negative signal to noise environments. The blue area represents the ARQ data performance and the orange lines the individual voice waveform performances.
“RapidM’s RT equipment provides Secure Digital Voice (SDV) for HF radio that outperforms other solutions in the market”
“RapidM’s RT equipment provides unsurpassed range and performance for digital radio services.”
RT Data Modem Technology
“Will the modem work in difficult HF BLOS channels?”
Most RT products contain the RapidM TC2 modem module or a variant thereof. Both digital voice and data operation benefits from RapidM’s superior technology and experience in HF modem design. The modem features adaptive equalization and can deal with in-band distortion and interference resulting in extended range and increased throughput.
The embedded software running on the TC2 is a derivative of a 3G ALE controller (STANAG 4538) and has a packet modem function. The secure digital voice (SDV) capability in the TC2 is provided by RapidM’s proprietary voice modem. The voice signal is digitized with using a low-rate Vocoder. Data and digitized voice information is passed through the AES-256 encryption algorithm. The modem converts digital data and voice information into an analogue signal that is transmitted and received via the radio’s audio interface. The digital voice and encryption functions are provided in the RapidM EF-256 software.
“RapidM’s has superior technology and experience in HF modem design.”
Services Offered by RT Products
“How can we get Voice, Data and Position services to work together?”
The RT family products provide the following services:
- Voice Communications Security: The RT family uses strong digital encryption, low rate vocoders and dedicated digital voice waveforms.
- Position Information: The RT family can securely receive, send and request blue force positions, neutral positions and inform of enemy positions.
- Messaging: The RT family provides secure chat, form templates, email and quick codes, both for point-to-point or broadcast links.
These services combine to provide a powerful Command and Control solution in the battlefield management domain.
“RapidM’s RT equipment combine voice, data and position services in an efficient manner.”
Systems Planning Considerations
The RapidM RT system is very adaptable and offers a large range of integration and mounting options to cater for varying deployment scenarios and requirements. The system is also designed to be used with radios form many different radio vendors.
“What are all the components required for a complete system?”
“How can we make sure that the solution will function as expected?”
RapidM has a network of highly skilled value-added resellers (VARs) selling the RT product range around the world. The RapidM VARs are experienced as system integrators and poses a wealth of product knowledge.
Engineers from the RapidM head office are also available to assist you with system planning and verification of your solution. We recommend that you consult a RapidM representative regarding the solution you envisage.
“RapidM and our network of Value Added Resellers can assist with system planning”
Systems Integration Assistance
“Will the RT System work in our existing system?”
Communication systems are often multi-faceted and may span across various different types of networks and protocols. Often RT Systems need to form part of a larger system and is required to interface with adjacent equipment and protocols. RapidM provides engineering assistance to meet these integration requirements.
The RapidM EntryPoint software provides an OSI Layer 7 Application Program Interface (API) to allow 3rd party system integrators to transport data through the RT network. A comprehensive Interface Control Document (IDC) describes this interface and sample software is available to assist system integrators to get going quickly and easily.
“RapidM EntryPoint API software provides Systems Integrators access to the RT communications stack.”
Availability of RT Demo Systems
“How can I test and evaluate the RapidM RT System?”
RapidM provides an easy and affordable way to test and evaluate the RT System. See the following page for information on the demonstration package: https://www.rapidm.com/product/rt-sdv-demo-package/
“RapidM offers convenient demonstration packages”
RapidM Representation at Global Events
“How can we meet with you and see your range of products in person?”
In addition to our product range being presented on the RapidM company website, RapidM regularly exhibits at military defence exhibitions around the world. Contact RapidM for specific information on upcoming events.
“RapidM regularly exhibits at military defence exhibitions around the world”
In Country Field Evaluation of RT Products
“We want to do a field evaluation before deciding on the equipment.”
There are RapidM value-added resellers (VARs) located in many countries around the world. The VARs are equipped with demonstration equipment as well as marketing material and technical documentation. A RapidM VAR can assist you in making field evaluations and demonstrations.
By arrangement, representatives from the RapidM head office can be made available to assist on-site during evaluations.
“RapidM can assist you during field evaluations.”
Assistance with Radio integration of RT Products
The RT System provides built-in support for interfacing with many different radios. This includes profiles to support specific radios as well as interface cabling for these radios.
“Will the RT System work with my radios?”
If your radio is not already supported by the RT System, RapidM Engineers can assist with the integration process.
“RapidM has vast experience in interfacing with many different radios from a wide range of manufacturers, from Military to even Commercial radios.”
Long term support
“How long will the RT equipment be supported?”
RapidM RT systems have been in deployment for many years. The minimum support lifetime for RT products is 10 years and this can be extended as per customer requirements. RT equipment also carries a minimum product warranty of 24 months.
“RapidM’s RT system offers 10 years and longer product life.”
RT Language Support
“Can the equipment be used in our local language?”
RT Devices are engineered to be able to support different languages, be it via voice prompts or through actual keyboard and User Interface text changes. Contact RapidM for enquiries around specific language support.
“The RT system supports multiple languages.”
“RapidM’s RT equipment can be adapted to other languages on request.”
On-site and Off-site training by RapidM
“We need training on how to use the system”
Drawing on years of experience and using the comprehensive RT system documentation, RapidM is able to provide training to End-users, Resellers and System Integrators on the functioning and use of the RT family products. Training can happen at the RapidM premises in Pretoria, South Africa or at the preferred in-country location.