Namibian communications specialist Sat-Com’s wideband manpack size Leopard radio is relatively unique in the global military radio market as it offers HF, VHF and UHF communication in a single package – military radios usually operate in one band as communication requirements are usually limited.
Whereas other high frequency radio manufactures will only cover up to 30 or 60 MHz frequency, the Leopard covers a frequency range from 1.6 MHz up to 512 MHz. The Leopard also offers Blue Force tracking capabilities and can transmit data as well as digital voice, which prevent eavesdropping – the standard internal modem allows for encrypted data transfer up to 2 400 bps. Optional modems can transfer between 19 200 and 96 000 bps.
The software-defined Leopard 1 multi-band, multi-role radio was designed to simplify modern-day military missions, Sat-Com said. By allowing frequency-hopping communications in the HF, VHF, and UHF bands, the Leopard 1 means soldiers do not have to carry multiple radio sets, thus saving weight and space.
“Now I have to carry only this one radio and manage all my communications. It is less weight and I am much more confident that I can reach and be reached,” a soldier said of the 3.2 kg device.
By carrying a Leopard 1 manpack radio, a soldier can communicate with other forces (land, sea and air) over medium and short distances through voice, text, data and e-mail with situational awareness in COMSEC (communications security), TRANSEC (transmission security) and LINKING modes.
“It is very comforting to know that when my men need air support or evacuation, they can communicate directly ground to air on AM, when they move out of range, they can communicate on SSB, otherwise VHF covers well – this is a great advantage,” one commander said.
Sat-Com said the radio was designed to address the common concerns of commanders, such as durability, simplicity, security, Blue Force tracking and the ability to send data. For commanders, operational planning is simplified by reducing the number of communication radios, resulting in fewer batteries, fewer chargers and a smaller logistic footprint. The quartermasters only need to stock and issue one radio for a mission. Training of signallers is also simplified, as are maintenance requirements.
The logistic footprint is further reduced by the Leopard 1 requiring fewer batteries. The radio can last up to three days on one charge. The embedded battery charger in every radio enables operators to recharge on the go from any scavenged DC supply to extend the mission time beyond the norm.
As the Leopard 1 is a software-defined radio, operators can communicate in various ways with voice, text, data and e-mails while remaining invisible through COMSEC (encrypted) and TRANSEC (hopping) modes. The radio can hop frequencies up to 600 times a second for end-to-end encryption. With ALE (Automatic Link Establishment) operators can successfully put through text, file transfer or a voice call in full secure modes, remaining invisible and immune against interference.
Another feature Sat-Com said is appreciated by commanders is the Blue Force tracking capability of the radio (which features an integrated GPS receiver), along with Red Forces identification and Points of Interest notifications from command centres.
The Leopard 1’s transceiver is the building block for higher-power applications – by adding the Leopard 1 to a rack with any one of Sat-Com’s family of Afracal Power Amplifiers, a Medium Powered Mobile, Medium Power Base or a High-Powered Base station can be created.
The Leopard is in service with the Namibian Defence Force (NDF). It is also compatible with Sat-Com’s Cheetah 3 VHF/UHF manpack radio and interoperable with all other radios conforming to standards. Numerous waveforms that conform to NATO and US military standards are supported by the standard internal and optional advanced data modem allowing interoperability with other systems.
The Cheetah is Sat-Com’s other flagship, which is in service with the NDF as well. This lightweight portable wideband VHF/UHF radio has integrated GNSS receivers. Features include fast frequency hopping, encryption, electronic counter-countermeasures (ECCM) capabilities and a data modem/texting capability. The latest Cheetah software-defined radio features data transmission for text and file transfer and blue force tracking capability.
With these two radios, Sat-Com said it covers the entire range of military requirements, including ground, air and naval communications. Sat-Com is promoting these products on the international market, after having cornered the Namibian market.