In this article I will write a comparison of radio communication systems that are used or been used by military.
Descriptions of radio communication systems
Ptarmigan is a digital and modular battlefield wide area network radio communication system. It is a portable device usually installed in vehicles as it is quite big and heavy and it was mostly used to create mobile radio communication networks in certain areas e.g. battlefields, so soldiers could have signal and communication. It was designed by Germans in a way to meet the needs of the British Army and replace the old communication system which was called BRUIN. This system uses multichannel of Ultra High frequencies and Super High frequency links which means that it can carry voice, data, telegraph and facsimile communications. Ptarmigan was secure, because it used encrypted communication and only specific devices could have access to the network. It was one of the devices that led mobile technology to a level as we know today.
Bowman is a tactical communications system used by the British Armed Forces. The Bowman system is capable to provide a range of High, Very High and Ultra High radio wavelengths. This results in secure exchange of information like voice or data services. This system can be applied to variety of devices like Personal Role Radios which can be used by dismounted soldiers in the battle field, because it is not very heavy and is designed to be as light as possible. There are also different types of radios that use bowman system and are fitted to over 15,000 military vehicles, from Land Rover Wolf to the Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank and also aircraft like Apache.
Falcon radio systems that replaced Ptarmigan with new generation tactical trunk communication system. It is manufactured by BAE Military Air and Information Company. Falcon radio systems deliver secure voice and data over an all Internet Protocol system across multiple security domains which makes it significantly more advanced than basic radio communication systems. It will have platforms for military headquarters of different sizes and also installed in cargo vehicles such as MAN HX 60. It is one of the most recent communication devices that military uses and it was used in 2009-2013 year timeframe.
Cormorant is area trunk communications network system with similar purpose as Falcon and Ptarmigan, but uses completely different technologies and ways to transfer data. It has optical fibres for over twenty main headquarters across UK which are provided with high speed data transfer and local area network. The system has capabilities to interconnect with single and or multidimensional network systems. It can be operated in vehicle mounted or dismounted mode in facilities like headquarters. The main working technology for Cormorant is TCP/IP which means that it uses local internet/LAN type connections to transfer data.
Comparison of Radio Systems
Ptarmigan and bowman are capable of using similar radio wavelengths such as HF and UHF frequencies. But the main difference between them is that Bowman system was built for lighter use such as for personal radio devices for soldiers or light military vehicles as opposite to Ptarmigan which is more capable as it can transform SHF which means it is capable of more data transfer and telegraphs, but it is heavy and is installed in trucks which makes it a large piece of equipment to be used for communication. As it can be seen by enemy and shot.
Falcon is similar to Ptarmigan as it was created to replace Ptarmigan. That means that the purpose was the same – area network communication e.g. battlefield or mission, but what was different was the technology used. Ptarmigan used HF, UHF and SHF as Falcon uses internet protocol which makes the communication even safer, reliable and more data can be sent trough. Ptarmigan is no longer in service and Falcon is a newer technology.
Cormorant and Ptarmigan have a similar purpose which is area trunk communication systems, but again they are built with different technologies as Cormorant is a newer technology that uses optical connections that are connected to headquarters by optical fibres and allows very high speed data transfer with minimum loss of information. So it is much more reliable and safer that Ptarmigan as it is almost impossible to break into local area network like that.
Falcon is a newer technology than Bowman, but it still doesn’t put it out of service as Bowman is still used in Personal Role Radios for soldiers in the field as devices with this system can be built quite light and soldiers are able to carry them with themselves without having negative effect of weight. Flacon has same capabilities as Bowman and even more as it can use internet protocols and communicate through it. That means it can send more data to soldiers and other headquarters like emails, digital coordinates and others.
Main difference between Bowman and Cormorant systems that they are designed for different reasons. As Cormorant can be designed to be installed in light or armoured vehicles and also aircraft it is mainly useful in headquarters as it is capable of using internet data transfer which allows a lot of functions. While Bowman systems are primarily designed to be installed in light vehicles and Personal Role Radios. They don’t have that much functionality but can provide communication in multiple channels which means that squad team’s communications do not cross.
Falcon and Cormorant are two systems that are quite recent and are capable of using internet connections and data transfer protocols. This functionality is mostly useful in headquarters and cargo vehicles or trunk communication vehicles to provide central radio communications in battlefields. The main difference is that Cormorant systems are capable of using optical fibres that allows high speed data transfer like LAN and creates a very safe network which is really hard to be accessed by enemy. Falcon is mostly used in Vehicles and aircraft as Cormorant is mostly used in headquarters.
All these systems are designed to suit different purpose. Some of them are newer and replace the old systems as technology develops. A lot of technology we have today and use it for everyday tasks e.g. mobile phones are actually a result of military purpose research like Ptarmigan which led mobile phone connection as it is today. And military research doesn’t stop and new ways and inventions of communication systems are presented which can be applied for warfare and or everyday life.
Sources of information: