Multiple new radio products from Sat-Com


In response to customers requests, Namibia’s Sat-Com has developed an intercom system for armoured vehicles and tanks, adding to its growing range of radios and amplifiers that now includes a small handheld VHF radio and a mesh networking radio.

According to Sat-Com’s Managing Director David Brown, the company’s customers requested a design for a new vehicle intercom system. Sat-Com complied and recently completed the design of the analogue intercom system, and aims to supply the first units in the coming weeks.

This was not something Sat-Com particularly wanted to do, but some of its customers had ordered intercoms from companies that could not deliver due to the Ukraine conflict, creating a “happy accident” product for the company, which will be supplying a new digital intercom next year.

Another new product Sat-Com is working on is its small handheld VHF Lynx radio, which is being built to military specifications. This came about from customers looking for ‘walkie-talkie’ two-way radios but which offer secure transmitting and receiving capabilities. Although there is a fair amount of competition in this segment, Brown believes Sat-Com could receive many orders for such a widely used and versatile product. Development may be concluded next year.

Sat-Com is also making progress on its Hornet1 handheld wireless mesh networking (MANET) radio. In a mesh network, every node in a network can communicate with every other node, efficiently routing data without the need for a central master node that could act as a point of failure. Wireless mesh networks enable connectivity to be spread across an extensive range: each node functions as an independent yet connected transmitter, creating a robust network that provides flexible communications.

Sat-Com hopes to have a couple of Hornet prototypes on display at the September 2022 Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition outside Pretoria. Brown is bullish about the future of mesh radios, which will have radio infrastructure provided on the fly either by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or aircraft or by temporary base stations.

Sat-Com’s main focus is on its military software defined multiband radios: the Leopard1 HF/VHF/UHF manpack, base station and vehicle radio; Cheetah3 VHF/UHF tactical manpack radio; Hornet1 UHF handheld mesh radio (in development); Badger, Shark and Hawk radio family; and Lynx1 VHF handheld radio (in development).

At present, Sat-Com is fulfilling lots of small orders from its customers as it waits on some large contracts. With the war in Ukraine, customers are looking at a wide range of products, from mesh radios to ground-to-air, naval and manpack radios. Brown told defenceWeb the Ukraine conflict is causing countries around the world, including Africa, to take a good look at their inventory and think about replacing it. “It was shocking to realise the Russians are having problems communicating. They do not have enough comsec/transec equipment or it’s too cumbersome to operate and radio amateurs were listening in. All of this has made countries realise they need to take stock of what they’ve got.”

In addition to Africa, Sat-Com is also talking to a couple of NATO countries on supplying radios, to NATO specifications. It is also pursuing the transfer of technology on a radio production facility for a foreign client as Sat-Com offers the ability to establish indigenous manufacturing capabilities and has built a semi-knock down (SKD) factory in West Africa.

Development continues on Sat-Com’s amplifier side. The Afracal1-VU VHF/UHF only radio frequency power amplifier (RF PA) is completed and in production – this resulted from a customer that wanted a simple, compact amplifier for vehicle applications. It took Sat-Com just eight months to develop the concept and put it into production – the first unit was shipped in April this year. Meanwhile, development of the HF RF PA Afracal1-H is ongoing.

The RF amplifier range covers the Afracal2 H-U 125W dual tri-band RF power amplifier; Afracal1 H 125W HF RF power amplifier; Afracal1 VU 100W VHF/UHF RF power amplifier; and Afracal 1K 1000W HF power amplifier.

Sat-Com has many new projects on its plate but is eyeing other promising areas, such as high power base station and naval amplifiers, a higher powered HF manpack, low power and light weight handheld military software defined radios, antenna tuners for mobile and naval applications, and technology transfer for international customers.