The article below is a summary of an article written in French by Laurent Morin and Christophe Groshenry published in the armament engineers magazine n° 109 (http://www.caia.net/page/517/la-revue).
Are you familiar with Slack? Probably if you are a geek at heart or if you’re under 20. It’s the collaborative tool of the Facebook and Twitter generation. Slack offers a new way of tele-working, in a group and in real time. The app is typical of the switch from traditional messaging to instant and collaborative messaging. In the same way, collaborative combat will be at the heart of tomorrow’s armed forces’ systems. CONTACT (Communications numériques tactiques et de théâtre), which is a radio and a system all in one, lies at the heart of this transformation.
Initially, software radio was developed to achieve logistical gains: a single tactical radio for all applications and, as an added bonus, it was lighter to carry both for soldiers and platforms. Then the idea of broadband was introduced into these software radios, offering new possibilities such as video, or new standards for data exchange, such as ESSOR. But the real disruption could come with the way the radios are used with the introduction of cooperative C4ISR applications better adapted to the upcoming new generation of officers. And the real role of software radio will be to support collaborative C4I, be it on the ground, in the air or on the sea, and then in joint armed forces mode.
CONTACT is designed to offer a base of mobile communications adapted to all types of the army’s operational exchanges whether these are the real time ones necessary in SCORPION for collaborative combat and protection, transverse exchanges such as friend or foe situational awareness, or exchanges in non-real time for end-to-end transit between elementary radio networks.
CONTACT promises to offer the flexibility and dynamic wavelength allocation necessary to adapt to the reconfigurations of operational deployments and developments in exchanges during the mission. If we take the case, for example, of support, an engineer company can move from one battle group to another and the Lego of elementary networks constituted by CONTACT will automatically reconfigure to account for this mobility.
With CONTACT, France has an advanced system which will mark SDR (software defined radio) programmes emerging internationally, and which will provide additional precious support to the export potential of French platforms.