Pulse news magazine

Volume 30, September 2020

Turn it up, that’s our anti-jam

BAE Systems’ Multiband Communications and Crypto Systems product line joined the company’s C4ISR Systems business area in May following the acquisition of the former Raytheon Airborne Radios business.

BAE Systems’ Multiband Communications and Crypto Systems product line joined the company’s C4ISR Systems business area in May following the acquisition of the former Raytheon Airborne Radios business. Longtime innovators in secure communications systems, the team’s mission-critical technology and expertise in waveforms and crypto have helped keep warfighters safe in every major conflict since Vietnam.

From 1957 to 1975, 2.7 million U.S. troops served in the Vietnam War. In the late stages of the war, a new threat emerged as advancements in technology made it easy and inexpensive for adversaries to intercept aircraft communications. A team of engineers at BAE Systems’ heritage business Magnavox got to work inventing HAVEQUICK, an anti-jam, frequency hopping waveform that provided jam-resistant air-to-air communications. Introduced in 1980, HQ would become the preferred solution for the U.S. Department of Defense, and a North Atlantic Treaty Organization standard for decades. Today, it continues to be licensed around the world.

As time progressed, technological advances have once again necessitated something new. The team that developed HQ – now known as Multiband Communications and Crypto Systems, and part of our C4ISRS team – remains at the forefront of waveform development, ready to offer a solution.

“As threats change, we need to evolve,” said Larry Finger, technical director for MCC at BAE Systems. “There is a mandate being pushed globally to replace HQ capabilities with SATURN capabilities, which we also helped invent and for which we own the intellectual property.”

SATURN, a fast frequency hopping waveform, was developed specifically to replace HQ. As the modern day battlespace becomes more sophisticated, advancements in tactical waveforms like SATURN bring new advantages to warfighters who rely on timely and accurate communications to inform key decisions in the field.

Waveforms are just one of MCC’s discriminators, though. The team also designs, manufactures, and supplies six models of mission-critical airborne radios to a broad range of U.S. and allied nations. In fact, the team recently completed a nearly 10-year modernization of its hardware, which can be found across the globe, deployed on more than 20 platforms. MCC has been recognized for its cryptographic capability, too.

“Our domestic military radios contain National Security Agency Type 1 certified crypto,” said Brian Rieman, product line engineering lead for MCC. This certification is a requirement for military communications, and without it there is a barrier to entry into the market,” he added. “Our team’s expertise creates a roadmap for BAE Systems to become crypto independent for its own technology, and we are eager to help provide crypto solutions across the company’s product portfolio,” said Rieman.

Finger notes that the team’s long-term success is largely due to its people. “We have an experienced, coast-to-coast team that has a lot to offer beyond tactical radio products,” he said.

Engineers working together on hardware at our Fort Wayne, Indiana, facility

“Our product line is headquartered in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, but we also have strong engineering teams in Los Angeles, California, and Largo, Florida, and a skilled program team in Huntsville, Alabama,” said Finger. “In our history, we’ve supported and developed electronic warfare, identification friend-or-foe, and networking products, so our collective skills range well beyond the radio capabilities inherent in our product line, which is the value we bring to the rest of BAE Systems.”

Like Finger, Rieman is looking forward to pushing the art of the possible with the might of the MCC team at the helm, and C4ISRS’ existing bench strength at its back.

“I’m excited to see how MCC’s portfolio and people compliment BAE Systems,” said Rieman. “If we can develop a new product portfolio to capture more market space, there is potential to grow the business significantly.”

For a technology born out of the strife of the Vietnam conflict, our communications innovations have traveled far and wide, giving U.S. and allied warfighters a leg up wherever they’re called to action.

By Ali Flewelling, Communications, Hudson, New Hampshire