Often neglected in the world of tactical radios, but as vital as the transceivers themselves, are the accessories which enable the radios to be used in the most efficient way possible. These can include everything from amplifiers to antennae.
As well as representing an excellent opportunity to cogitate on the latest developments in the world of transceivers, the Eurosatory exhibition held in Paris this June witnessed a showcasing of tactical radio accessories. With a handsome stand on their home turf, French company Elno took the author through its Hoplite headset which was making its debut at the show. The company stated that all of the production work for this headset is performed in France, and that the headset is largely ‘radio agnostic’ being able to work with a diverse array of systems including Thales PR4G radios in widespread service with the French armed forces, and Harris’ AN/PRC-117 and AN/PRC-152 families of tactical radios, plus Safran’s RIF and RIF-NG squad radios which form a vital part of the French Army’s FELIN (Fantassin à Équipement et Liaisons Intégrés/Infantry Integrated Liaison Equipment) infantry soldier ensemble. The Hoplite will replace the company’s legacy VH-590 headset which is in use on board French Army vehicles. The headset, the company told Armada, will also enter service with French special forces and the paramilitary GIGN (Groupe d’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale/National Gendarmerie Intervention Group) and RAID (Recherche, Assistance, Intervention, Dissuasion/Search, Assist, Intervene, Dissuade) national police organisations.
Denmark’s Invisio was also present at Eurosatory showcasing their tactical radio accessories, notably launching the firm’s new V20 radio controller which is not only ‘radio agnostic’ but which can work with a range of cellphones and vehicle intercoms, as well as military transceivers. They told the author that they have expanded their personnel base over the last twelve months, and that the firm has won several large tenders in 2016, which it says was the result of the firm’s ability to employ commercial-off-the-shelf technology, where possible, to deliver the most reliable and cost-effective tactical communications products to its customers. Invisio has debuted new products such as its V20 Control Unit which has a very small size and is currently being tested and evaluated by customers around the world, according to the firm.
The company is fulfilling a number of contracts which it has won in the last few years. These include the US Army’s TCAPS (Tactical Communications and Protective System) which provides soldiers with hearing protection, alongside the ability to continue to use their tactical communications. Media reports state that around 20000 TCAPS units have been provided to the force thus far. Similarly, the company is meeting the United Kingdom’s Tactical Hearing Protection System with the award of a contract worth $15 million in 2015 alongside its partner Marlborough Communications to deliver Invisio’s S10 hearing protection across the UK armed forces, as part of a contract to run for four years, with the option to extend this by a further three years. Other successes for the company include the Canadian Army’s Integrated Soldier System initiative which is an infantry soldier modernisation programme led by Rheinmetall, which also includes Invisio’s communication and hearing protection. Other contracts forthcoming for Invisio announced in 2015 include the supply of combat hearing protection for the Australian Army as part of that force’s Land 125 soldier modernisation programme. Deliveries are to continue to the Australian programme for five years, with the option to increase this by four years. Invisio will provide its S10 and V60 hearing protection to meet this order.
US-based tactical radio accessories specialist Atlantic Signal provided Armada with some details regarding their tactical radio headsets during this year’s Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) held in Tampa, Florida this May. For example, the firm adapts 3M Peltor’s COMTAC-III tactical headset for use in water. This is submersible in up to ten metres (33.3 feet) of water for up to ten hours and can be procured in both in single and dual channel communications versions. Known as the Below H20, this headset has been supplied to the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), being approved to this end in the third quarter of 2015. The company is currently in the process of supplying 9500 Below H20 headsets to the USSOCOM, and has made the product available for worldwide procurement as of mid-2016. In addition, the company provides its Dominator headset which was used in Operation NEPTUNE SPEER; the 1/2 May 2011 US Navy Sea, Air, Land commando operation which killed the Al Qaeda insurgent organisation leader Osama bin Laden. The Dominator headset commenced deliveries to USSOCOM in 2011 and employs both an osteophone, by which the skull is vibrated enabling the user to hear communications traffic, and earpieces which offer hearing protection as well an additional audio source. The company stresses that its products can be exported free from the restrictions incumbent in the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR) US legislation, and are completely ‘radio agnostic’ enabling them to be used with a wide variety of transceivers.