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Rohde & Schwarz is equipping the German Navy’s NH90 SEA LION helicopters with SOVERON airborne radios, the Munich-based communications specialist announced on 6 August. The aircraft has recently completed a comprehensive series of demonstrations for the service, including naval reconnaissance as well as search and rescue missions and delivery of special forces equipment. The Navy has 18 SEA LIONs on order from Airbus Helicopters, intended to replace the ageing SEA KING Mk 41 currently in service, with deliveries to commence from late this year.

Rohde & Schwarz is providing airborne software defined radios (SDR) for the SEA LION, including national cryptology, with each aircraft carrying three M3AR VHF/UHF airborne transceivers for the MR6000A SDR. The M3AR uses state-of-the-art communications methods that have been standardised throughout NATO, including the fast frequency-hopping Second Generation of Anti-Jam Tactical UHF Radio for NATO (SATURN) technique, as well as embedded NATO cryptology. The MR6000A has been SECAN- and BSI-certified to allow secure communications up to NATO Secret level.

Specifically for naval applications, the R&S M3AR MR6000A provides interfaces for connecting external devices such as an automatic direction finder (ADF), a Link 11 data terminal set (DTS), an improved data modem (IDM) or an external encryption device: it also guards the naval distress frequency.

The transceivers can implement important mission-essential functions through software downloads, thus ensuring, for example, that the aircraft can be used in international airspace under network-centric warfare conditions. “The NH90 Sea LION carries improved communications equipment, which means that this military helicopter will also be able to operate in civil airspace,” explains Rohde & Schwarz’s Vice President Market Segment Avionics, Stefan Pleyer. “This means that the NH90 can be used in international airspace under all conditions. Almost 8,000 SDRs from the R&S M3AR airborne transceiver family are in use worldwide on over 70 different airborne platforms.”

As a member of the SOVERON family, the MR6000A covers a frequency range of 30-400 MHz. Its high transmit power – 20W in AM and 30W in FM modes – ensures long range, even in poor weather conditions or when flying at low levels. The extremely robust transceiver is accommodated in an ARINC 600 housing and offers outstanding RF characteristics, such as high sensitivity and large-signal immunity. The MR6000A is decidedly immune to radiated interference (e.g. from powerful broadcast transmitters or radar equipment) and to cosmic radiation. It contains filters to suppress shortwave and VHF interference as well as interfering signals in the same frequency band (co-site operation).

The airborne transceiver supports various standards, such as ED 23B, ICAO Annex 10, STANAG 4204 and STANAG 4205 for fixed frequency/ATC operation, STANAG 4246 for HAVE QUICK and STANAG 4372 for SATURN EPM communications, as well as STANAG 5511 and MIL STD 188 203-1A for LINK 11 operation.


In the jungle, the mighty jungle, a SEA LION roars tonight….. The powerful new modern helicopter’s voice will be heard when required, thanks to the secure, reliable communications fit from Rohde & Schwarz. (Photo via Rohde & Schwarz)

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