Persistent Systems is bringing its competence in the mobile ad hoc networking (MANET) domain to bear on an increasing number of defence programmes. In one of many partnering efforts, the New York-based company is a subcontractor for the supply of its WAVE RELAY networking technology to QinetiQ North America, in support of the US Army’s Common Robotic System-Individual programme. Most recently, last month, the company announced it was selected by US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command C5ISR Center to develop protected communications for Manned-Unmanned Teams (MUM-T) – an award concurrent with the service’s acquisition strategy for its Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle. The vehicle will conceptually be networked with two or more unmanned Remote Combat Vehicles with their assorted sensor/weapons payloads and, in turn, networked with the broader force and command structure. Indeed, the WAVE RELAY MANET works just as well for dismounts in this and other programmes of record.
Reflecting on Persistent’s expanding portfolio for use in manned and unmanned systems, Brian Soles, Vice President of Business Strategy and Government and Military Affairs, emphasized it “is very much a network company, we’re not a radio company.” He then called attention to the subtle distinction between the labels. “We look at the problems Army modernization is undergoing right now with trying to get the network to the battlefield from a network perspective, not a radio perspective.” To that end, even when Persistent does build a radio, it is a smart-networking device, not a traditional radio. It is capable of providing high throughput data capabilities while units and individuals are moving around the battlefield and is resilient to the congestion of an RF-dynamic and/or contested environment.
While the company’s product portfolio includes its flagship MPU5, it is also present, just as significantly, in the quickly expanding defence embedded market with its smaller Embedded Module, designed for integration into unmanned systems: “whatever the integrator has in mind, it provides that smaller form factor,” Soles added.
Persistent’s partnership construct is the Wave Relay Ecosystem, whose members include Insitu, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and seven other defence industry firms. “We have been working with these partners through the years to help them integrate WAVE RELAY onto their platforms, UGVs and UAVs, sensors and others […] The whole idea is to take the enabling capabilities each of these enabling companies have and bring them to the soldier or marine at the center of the network, and empower that individual with the capabilities unique to each system, making the soldier or marine, and his or her squad or other unit more lethal,” Soles explained.
Persistent Systems’ business horizon in the next 12-18 months includes ongoing efforts with US Army Futures Command’s Next Generation Combat Vehicle and Network Cross Functional Teams. “We’re collaborating with the Army to help them solve problems. This includes any number of use cases where you need a [MANET] like WAVE RELAY, where it can be utilized, from a hand-held networking device for the individual soldier to carry, up to a mounted/unmounted artificial device for enabling soldiers and systems,” Soles concluded.