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The PUMA infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) and the future soldier system for the Germany Army (IdZ-ES) lie at the heart of German preparedness to support NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) 2023. The seamless radio link that will power this capability is being provided by Munich-based Rohde & Schwarz – and with the Bundestag’s Budget Committee approval for the armoured infantry system having been given at the end of June, procurement contracts are now under way.

"This order is a milestone that we have reached after winning against international competitors in challenging trials and comparative tests set by the German armed forces (Bundeswehr) in 2018 in Munster, Germany," commented Rohde & Schwarz Senior Vice President Market Segments Secure Communications Sales and Projects, Hartmut Jäschke.

Fundamentally, the Bundeswehr’s intention is to be ready with the PUMA/IdZ-ES combination for VJTF (Land) in 2023. Rohde & Schwarz is a subcontractor to Rheinmetall Electronics, which is responsible for the IdZ-ES system, and will supply the latest tactical software defined radios (SDR), together with suitable waveforms, integration, training and services. The SOVERON family works with the high data rate and interference-immune SOVERON WAVE waveforms for tactical rugged use on the so-called ‘first mile,’ and is thus an exact match for the spectrum of requirements of a battle group for territorial and collective defence, as well as for international crisis management operations. All members of the SOVERON WAVE family of waveforms offer mobile ad hoc network (MANET) functionality. Radios equipped with this capability function as routers within the IP network group, forwarding the information via other communication nodes, thus ensuring that a robust, interference-immune link can be maintained under all circumstances.

The VHF/UHF radio systems selected for this project will establish and maintain the command radio link with simultaneous voice and IP data from dismounted troops up to the platoon and company level. They comprise handheld (SDHR/SOVERON HR) and vehicular (SDTR/SOVERON VR) radios, which are interoperable with the Bundeswehr joint radio system (SVFuA, series name SOVERON D). This system has already been commissioned by the Bundeswehr and SDR waveforms have been procured with it. The first batch of SOVERON D commissioned for command vehicles will be delivered to the troops in the first half of 2020. This interplay is also of great importance in the context of the major Digitalisation of Land Based Operations/Tactical Edge Networking (D-LBO/TEN) project for highly secure and trusted interoperable connections, which will only come into effect after VJTF 2023. SOVERON D also provides backward compatibility with the analog SEM radio infrastructure that will be in service for some time yet, even though it is obsolete. This capability was also recently demonstrated in extensive testing.

"With our innovative overall approach – SOVERON – we provide national trusted solutions that can be tailored to the customer's needs but which, due to their open architecture, are compatible with established radio systems and architectures and, at the same time, will be viable in the future," Mr Jäschke continued. "[…] we are not only paving the way for the next steps of D-LBO/TEN and for further strategic projects of the Bundeswehr: there are also significant synergies with the Telecommunications of the Army (TK A) project in Switzerland, comparable to the networking part of D-LBO/TEN. We are in the final round of a multi-year competition here."

Rohde & Schwarz will supply the Bundeswehr with the latest tactical SDRs of the SOVERON family, together with suitable waveforms, integration, training and services. (Photo: Rohde & Schwarz)

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