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F@stnet HD: the simple combat radio that's revolutionising VHF communications

Today's rapidly evolving and diversifying threat landscape coupled with the current explosion of technological innovations is driving new requirements in high-data-rate connectivity.

In this new paradigm, armed forces in the theatre of operations need advanced communication capabilities so they can exchange information and make decisions faster to achieve information superiority. They need to share their positions, exchange tactical data and know where hostiles are located, without being intercepted or jammed.

An innovative, high-performance radio

Romain and Alexandre are two of 3,000 soldiers in a remote theatre of operations. On the ground, Romain has a huge responsibility — he’s in charge of establishing communication networks to ensure links between combatants in his unit and the command post (CP) as well as with other units on deployment.

His role is vital to the functioning of the command chain, because network quality and dependability will be a key factor in the effective execution of operations and will indirectly help ensure that troops in the field aren’t exposed to unnecessary danger. To achieve this objective, he needs an advanced tactical radio with an effective range of several dozen kilometres, combined with a dedicated, high-performance mission planning tool.

The new F@stnet HD high-data-rate radio from Thales fits this requirement. It offers more services with fewer radios (a single radio, where two were needed before), thanks to its dual voice conferencing capability.

Leveraging the GeoMux HD waveform, F@stnet HD is an innovative VHF radio that uses a single channel for voice communications, high-speed data transmission and Blue Force Tracking (BFT).

This remarkable feature enables commanders to monitor the tactical situation and the location of all units in near-real time and use a single handset for voice communications with them, with no interference between these services.

The touchscreen interface has all the intuitive usability of an icon-based smartphone and has been carefully designed with end users to offer superlative ease of use and efficiency in the field. It also lets users personalise the screen in their own language, facilitating adoption and reducing training time.

Over 165,000 F@stnet HD radios and previous-generation PR4G and F@stnet versions are in service today in 43 countries, mainly in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Taking combat to another level

Via the voice channel of his F@stnet HD radio, Alexandre receives an order to intercept hostiles in the area. Thanks to its built-in operating mode, Alexandre’s radio automatically transmits the GPS position of his unit, separately from voice and data communications. At the same time, the graphic map in his Battle Management System (BMS) is updated with the area where the threat is likely located.

Alexandre arrives at the objective, surveys the area with a Thales Sophie camera connected to his radio and transmits the still and video imagery from the camera to the CP in real time. When he reports he has a visual of a pickup with three armed men, the decision immediately comes back to intercept.

As the action unfolds, Alexandre’s manpack is constantly connected with the CP, several dozen kilometres away, via the relay station on the vehicle. Rated at 50 W, it has the power to maintain the connectivity extension they need.

The touchscreen lets Alexandre interact instantly and directly with the radio in critical situations and send alerts and other text messages as well as view a simplified map of positions. In addition, it can be used as a temporary, local replacement for the BMS installed on an external tablet, which Alexandre usually uses to monitor the tactical situation.

Half an hour later, Alexandre receives via his radio’s voice channel the exact position of a suspicious vehicle, located by a drone. F@stnet HD makes it possible to process information such as video imagery, hostile positions and description of engaged forces in near-real time, which in turn enables commanders to make faster decisions and Alexandre’s unit to benefit from the element of surprise. A few kilometres further ahead, the unit makes contact with the vehicle and they exchange fire.

The hostiles use a jamming system, which are readily available today, in an attempt to disrupt Alexandre’s communication systems.

However, it’s completely ineffective, thanks to the GeoMux HD waveform, with its frequency hopping functionality, high level of redundancy and ultra-resistant modulation.

This technique ensures that critical information can be relayed at all times and that high-quality transmission is maintained in urban and other environments with a lot of disruption from multiple radio sources. It gives Thales a serious advantage over its competitors, whose high-data-rate radios operate at fixed frequencies and so are highly vulnerable to hostile jamming.

A future-oriented radio

F@stnet HD is an innovative, high-performance radio that significantly boosts operational effectiveness with a set of simultaneous, independent services, combined with inherent resistance to electromagnetic interference. It’s the culmination of Thales’s experience with the PR4G F@stnet family. And it’s the cornerstone of the company’s next-generation SYNAPS radios. This recently unveiled and highly innovative family of radios dedicated to collaborative combat leverages the GeoMux HD waveform as part of our policy of upward compatibility and continuity. It offers new services across a network operating on the principles of higher-performance information sharing, bandwidth and security, providing Alexandre with a decisive operational advantage, especially at the most critical phases of combat.


GeoMux: fewer radios, more services

GeoMux HD is a new VHF waveform that makes it possible for the first time on a single channel to simultaneously and independently exchange command voice communications, geolocation information, alerts and other data, chat, order and report messages and, thanks to its fast bandwidth, still and video imagery.

With its dual voice conferencing functionality, GeoMux HD allows the same radio and a single channel to be used for communications at two different levels of command. One F@stnet therefore effectively takes the place of two separate radios. This means real cost savings for Thales’s customers and smaller space requirements in vehicles for soldiers on the frontline of operations.