Cutting Edge

Thales unveils a new generation SDR, SYNAPS at Eurosatory 2016

Gennevilliers/ La Ferté-Saint-Aubin/ Saumur, France: Days before Eurosatory 2016, Thales invited a group of international journalists to unveil two new systems, which were to be the highlight of the sprawling Thales pavilion at the Show — SYNAPS software defined radio (SDR) and Counter-Unmanned Aerial System (C-UAS) — and highlight some of the current programmes. For a company that prides on the fact that it is the world’s largest supplier of military radio communication systems (outside the US domestic market) with over 800,000 systems equipping 50 militaries worldwide, SYNAPS has been such a breakthrough for Thales that it merited a launch of its own.

Thales unveils a new generation SDR, SYNAPS at Eurosatory 2016

Hence, the atmosphere in the briefing room at Thales’ Gennevilliers facility was heavy with expectation. The introductory remarks were made with a sense of suspense. The senior Thales executive, vice president, Radio Communications Products, Hervé Derrey, who made the presentation, spoke like a story-teller, weaving a tale about the present and the future operational environment.

“The nature of warfare has changed,” he said, “and we don’t even know how to define this change. Today, cyber-attacks can bring a country to a standstill without shedding a drop of blood. Since there are no definitive ways of dealing with it yet, the best way still is to safeguard oneself.”

Just when the discourse was settling down to the predictability of cyber-warfare, Derrey added another element. “One cannot have successful operations in isolation. Connectivity is at the heart of the success of an operation,” he said, adding, that this connectivity renders the operator vulnerable to all sorts of attacks, which compromise efficiency of his systems and safety of his mission. Hence, the need is for not only secure communications, but for a system that can straddle different platforms and function in diverse environment, both vertically and horizontally.

But the current radio communication systems have limitations. They have hierarchical communication networks and they are able to transmit only voice data. Clearly, they cannot meet the requirements of the future, which is collaborative combat based on the principles of C4I (Command, Control, Computers, Communications and Intelligence). Not only the troops need to be on a single network, it has to be flexible to meet the changing requirements. And, it should be able to transfer voice, C2 data, big data as well as videos.

At this point in the presentation, he invited an ex-French Army officer working with the company to share his perspective. Using animated imagery, he described a tactical scenario, in which several platoons, belonging to different battalions are deployed in a vast area comprising hills as well as forests. One platoon gets the information about a group of enemy combatants approaching a platoon of another battalion, located a little distance away.

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