Defense communications demand two things when using Radio Frequency: Reliability and Security.
Reliability means communications networks that are high-quality and deliver uninterrupted coverage – because delays, repeats and missed or garbled information can cost time and lives.
The complexity of the communications networks grow significantly where different services, possibly from a variety of countries need to operate and co-ordinate as one, to avoid potential confusion, “friendly-fire incidents” or deaths of innocent civilians.
Security is, first and foremost, about ensuring that communications cannot be intercepted, disrupted or jammed.
In modern combat operations, as well as peace-time activities, such as disaster relief, there may be multiple agencies from multiple countries all trying to communicate using their own voice and data equipment. This makes management, monitoring, and correct allocation of precious spectrum for both voice and data communications a critical aspect of the overall command and control function.
In recent years national regulators, such as the US FCC and UK’s Ofcom have also forced defense departments/ministries to either fully relinquish or to share some spectrum with private sector users. This demands a process of transitioning existing wireless operations to alternate frequency bands—a complex process that can easily create interference issues.
The third challenge is identifying and locating communications from hostile third parties who are using wireless communications to coordinate operations that threaten the integrity, security and safety of national borders, military personnel and civilians. This is always challenging but in crowded or chaotic radio spectrum environments the wireless signals of unauthorized or hostile actors can be “lost in the noise” and go undetected.