Tactical Radio Communications for the future

Over the years the Armed Forces have had more than 800 different radio systems in their use. In 2003 a project aiming for gradually reducing the variety of radio equipment was initiated. “Our duties must be solved with a minimum of radio systems. To be able to fulfill all our tasks we also have to be compatible between units”, says major Kjell Lantto, responsible for supply of common radio systems in the Armed Forces.

Technical staff from army units and from the Armed Forces´ Technical School in Halmstad in training on the new GTRS radio system. Photo: Mats Carlsson/Försvarsmakten
The vehicle mounted version of the equipment.
The vehicle mounted version of the equipment. Photo: Mats Carlsson/Försvarsmakten

Over the last years radio technology has been in very rapid development. Today we talk about software defined radio, software waveform applications, international co-operations and standards in a way that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.

In spite of the fact that a large number of old radio systems have been phased out in the last years, we still have more than 200 radio systems in the Armed Forces. Some of them are almost 50 years old. Interoperability, i.e. ability to be used in communication with units of other nationalities, never was a requirement.
“To partly replace this heritage with modern software defined radios based on an international standard, is going to provide the Armed Forces with great tactical and operational benefits."

"Furthermore”, Kjell Lantto continues, “for the first time in Sweden we would have a wireless communications system that is not only common to the armed force but can also be used together with other defence forces.”

An early start

The work exploring the possibilities and conceivable advantages that could be won by software defined radio started in 2000 and in 2003 the GTRS, Common Tactical Radio System, program was initiated.

"The first deliveries in the GTRS program have arrived and we are now launching our first training course for users here in Boden", Kjell Lantto says.

Captain Lars Behm, from Army Combat School in Kvarn, is responsible for requirements in the ground arena.
“We are working with requirements classified in different arenas instead of in armed forces services. This simply because the same equipment shall be used virtually everywhere and by all units”, says Lars Behm.

Testing in the far north

The Norrbotten Regiment has been selected the pilot unit for the program. Trials and tests will for several reasons be performed in the terrain in Norrbotten (northern Sweden).
“The type of terrain up here with mountains and poor infra structure puts the equipment to hard tests which is exactly what we want to achieve”, says Kjell Lantto. The garrison of Boden also can supply staff for testing different kinds of units.

Late January 2009 the first trials in terrain will be performed.
“Then we will install the equipment in vehicles, drive out into the artillery range and test it in real combat environment. The trials will be continued during winter and springtime”, Lars Behm concludes.