Communication is vital for Warfighters to exchange voice and data, command and control, and situational awareness data and video. The vision of the Communications area is to provide reliable communication from anywhere to everywhere from warfighters to supreme commanders with demanded rate and least latency by exploiting complete electromagnetic spectrum through nodes deployed underwater, water surface, land, air and space. Military Communication systems demand flexibility, adaptability & cognitive controllability of bandwidth, frequency, and information rate to ensure robust communications in congested and contested environments.
Military communications involve all aspects of communications, or conveyance of information, by armed forces. It comprises all means of transmitting messages, orders, and reports, both in the field and at sea and between headquarters and distant installations or ships. Military communications system provides effective interaction into a cohesive, flexible, and secure communication network.
Communication systems and solutions are widely used by armies, as the modern battlefield is a complex environment where large amounts of information are required to flow without disruption, protected from breaches by enemies. Armies mostly use ground-based communication systems to transfer essential information, which helps forces stay updated about the situation at the battlefield and to execute routine operations. There are three main forms of communication which are the radio, satellite, and mobile, out of which mobile telephony is in its introductory phase, SATCOM is in the growth phase and Radio is in its Maturity phase.
The modernization of man-portable communications systems in particular has long been on the wish lists of armies relying on traditional radio in the field. The US Army, for instance, has been looking to modernize its tactical military communications infrastructure for more than 20 years, starting with the joint tactical radio system (JTRS) in 1997. “The basic idea was to field a family of radios and waveforms that could be modified by downloading new software rather than replacing expensive hardware,” Loren Thompson, chief executive officer of Source Associates and chief operating officer of the non-profit Lexington Institute wrote for Forbes in 2018. “Software reconfigurability supposedly would enable a patchwork of disparate networks to communicate as if everyone was using an iPhone, even in the midst of combat.”
Military satellite communications systems are becoming increasingly important for conducting military operations around the globe. Thus, the defense sector is looking for a combination of diverse satellite communications services to support wartime operations. This combination includes the use of military frequency bands as well as commercial communications satellites. Military satellite communication solutions providers are enhancing satellite communications capabilities such as global broadcast service, personal communications service, and bandwidth on demand to meet the future military operations requirements.
Military communications technology trends
Software-defined radio architecture, radio-satellite-network integration as well as enabling un-interrupted and secured communications operations down to the tactical edge in a congested and contested spectrum environment will drive spending on military communications systems. Strategy Analytics forecasts spending on global military communications systems and services will grow to over $36.7 billion in 2026, representing a CAGR of 3.5%. Spending on global communications systems and services comprises radio, satellite communications (SATCOM), datalink, network and other communications systems.
Military communications networks provide for the exchange of voice, video and data between geographically dispersed elements of a battle force. Trends driving spending on the military communications sector will be underpinned by software defined radio, satellite connectivity and network-centric IP-based communications.
Situational awareness is an important aspect of military communications, specifically when armed forces require real-time data. Situational awareness solutions help armed forces make effective use of critical information on a battlefield. Reliable and hack-resistant voice and data communication solutions play a vital role in anticipating dangers. The continuously increasing need for real-time data among the armed forces to make timely decisions is an important factor driving the growth of the situational awareness application segment.
In the defense sector, maintenance of consistent communication and protection of highly confidential information are two of the major requirements. Inaccurate transfer of real-time data and leakage of crucial data may result in disputes and pose a risk to the safety of the masses worldwide. Defense communication is often dependent on a vast and complex network of software and hardware components for conveying messages across the globe. In addition to that, it consists of all the aspects related to the transmission of information by military forces for well-organized control, command, military surveillance, and functioning. The investment in the military is likely to upsurge in the coming years because of the rising disputes among various countries. However, such communication is mission-critical. Hence, it may hinder the Military Communications Market growth during the forecast period.
Special operations commands across Europe are ramping up their capabilities with high-frequency communications to ensure connectivity on the battlefield. Leaders there are turning to high frequency communications as a way to optimize properties that provide a low probability of interception and detection. Special forces in France, Germany, Poland and Ukraine continue to receive high-frequency, or HF, systems as a way to diversify communications plans. Some special operations organizations have selected L3Harris’ AN/PRC-160(V), industry sources said. Enhancements in HF come at a time when NATO members and partner forces are suffering from a disruption of satellite communications, particularly along the alliance’s eastern flank where Russian armed forces continue to conduct electronic warfare. “China, Russia and the U.S. have all carried out ASAT tests and many other countries are developing ASAT capabilities,” Denisowski said, using an acronym for anti-satellite. To boost resilience, some commands are turning to high-frequency communications.
Ka-band Satellite Communications
Ka-band satellites provide higher spectrum and enable much higher data speed and capacities as compared to Ku and X bands. Thus, the introduction of newer Ka-band satellites allows armed forces to better plan, lead, and execute complex operations. Due to the rising need to utilize more satellite bandwidth capacity at a competitive cost, the use of Ka-band satellites for military communication is growing. The use of Ka-band allows higher upload and download data speed. It also lowers bandwidth cost due to the increasing number of users of Ka-band satellite communication systems.
In addition, new Ka-band satellite systems are equipped with smaller, steerable beams for high-capacity density, which adds enhanced network jam resistance for communication platforms while supporting significant uplink data rates for military operations such as ISR and other data-rich applications. Thus, Ka-band is a preferred frequency for today’s mobile and global satellite communications that augments existing military satellite communications (MILSATCOM) services with maximum reliability, capacity, flexibility, and capability.
Laser Optical Communications
Optical communications terminals that use lasers to beam data across space will be tested in upcoming experiments by the Space Development Agency and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. These terminals are important pieces of DoD’s future low Earth orbit constellations which will require satellite-to-satellite optical crosslinks so data collected in space can be immediately sent to military command centers on the ground. Laser communications systems have much faster data transmission rates than radio-based systems but DoD has concerns such as the effects of space radiation on optical terminals and whether the electronics can withstand the stress of space launch.
“Optical inter-satellite links are one of the most critical technologies required to be demonstrated for Tranche 0,” the Space Development Agency said in a request for proposals. Tranche 0 is the initial deployment planned for 2022. The satellites in the transport layer have to pass data in space and down to the ground to military users with very low latency. That can’t happen “without the demonstration and maturation of optical inter-satellite crosslinks — with radio frequency (RF) crosslinks as a backup,” the SDA request says. One of the concerns in using lasers for downlinks is penetrating the Earth’s atmosphere, especially through clouds.
Space Micro, a company that supplies space electronics to DoD and NASA, received an Air Force contract in 2019 to develop a secure optical terminal for Air Force missions. CEO David Strobel told SpaceNews that the SDA and DARPA programs will challenge the industry to make small low-power terminals that also can meet demanding performance targets. Wood said optical communications is attracting more interest because of the challenges and limitations of RF systems, said Wood. “The way engineers have addressed it in the last 15 years is by going to higher frequencies. But you’re still using electromagnetic waves to transmit information.”
The electromagnetic spectrum is in tight supply whereas the available spectrum is much greater in the optical band. “It’s about 8,000 gigahertz,” said Wood. “You can get essentially unlimited spectrum for transmissions. And you can get much higher throughput through optical systems than through radio systems,” he added. “This spectrum is unlicensed by the Federal Communications Commission or other authorities. You can build your equipment and go.”
Meanwhile, the introduction of 5G networks is gathering pace, opening up a new era of possibilities – and threats – for military communications. Like the roads and skies of the world, communication channels are increasingly populated. Although 5G is the next generation of mobile communications intended to address that, it also means there will be more capacity and therefore greater demand.
5G technologies could have a number of potential military applications, particularly for autonomous vehicles, C2, logistics, maintenance, augmented and virtual reality, and ISR systems—all of which would benefit from improved data rates and lower latency (time delay).
Autonomous military vehicles, like their commercial counterparts, could potentially circumvent onboard data processing limitations by storing large databases(e.g., maps) in the cloud. Safe vehicle operations would require 5G’s high data rates and low latency to download off-board information and synthesize it with on-board sensor data.
Likewise, 5G could be used to transfer sensor data between operators and uninhabited vehicles and network vehicles, potentially enabling new military concepts of operations, such as swarming (i.e., cooperative behavior in which vehicles autonomously coordinate to achieve a task).
5G technologies could also be incorporated into ISR systems, which increasingly demand high-bandwidths to process, exploit, and disseminate information from a growing number of battlespace sensors. This could provide commanders with timely access to actionable intelligence data, in turn improving operational decision-making. Similarly, 5G could reduce latency in other data-intensive activities, such as logistics and maintenance, and could additionally enable augmented or virtual reality environments that could enhance training. Finally, command and control systems could benefit from the high-speed, low latency capability of 5G. For example, the U.S. military currently uses satellite communications for most of its long-distance communications. However, satellites on orbit can significantly increase latency due to
the amount of distance a signal needs to travel, causing delays in the execution of military operations.
Military Communications Market
The global tactical military communications market, which comprises airborne, naval, man-portable, vehicular and stationary, is set to see substantial growth over the coming decade. According to market analysis by GlobalData says, by the end of 2028, the sector will be worth $151bn globally. This growth is driven largely by demand for man-portable innovations, which account for more than a third of the market (38%).
The market revenue for Global Military Communications Market accounted for U$D 28.50 billion in the year 2020 and it is anticipated to reach a value of around U$D 39.72 billion by the year 2029.
Increasing procurement of military communication solutions due to growing disputes among countries across the world, growing concerns related to security of military communications, and the need to modernize and replace aging communication equipment are the major factors driving the global market. MarketsandMarkets projects that the military communications market is expected to grow from USD 31.50 billion in 2018 to USD 37.67 billion by 2023, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.6% from 2018 to 2023.
Tactical communications market revenue in the coming years will be driven by high emphasis on providing protective equipment and the requirement of constant communication in sectors such as the military, construction, public safety, etc. The high noise exposure to continuous, loud sounds can have long-lasting negative impacts on the hearing of the workforce.
Based on component, the military radio systems segment is expected to witness the highest growth during the forecast period. The high growth of the military radio systems segment can be attributed to the growing deployment of software-defined radios for military radio equipment. Based on application, the situational awareness segment of the market is estimated to witness the highest growth during the forecast period. Government agencies benefit from situational awareness solutions as they help armed forces make effective use of critical information on a battlefield.
Miniaturization of the equipment and technological advancements such as the development of ear canal earphones, active and passive noise cancelling devices, and the improvement of connectivity technologies is anticipated to propel the market demand. Adoption of LTE technology in professional mobile radios (PMR) systems has allowed real time data interchange and the transmission of complex video and voice data. As bulky material is harder to handle and places additional, unwanted weight on the user, consumers seek equipment that will not hamper their functionality.
Wireless is gradually replacing wired technology owing to the freedom in movement and the increased comfort that it provides. To tackle the issue of miscommunication in high-stress environments, an increasing number of companies in the market are improving digital signal processing (DSP) and compression technology to filter out ambient sounds. Bone conduction technology has revolutionised the global tactical communications market by allowing users with hearing impairment to function efficiently in the workplace.
In emergency situations, MANETS are preferred as they are wireless networks and can be easily deployed. Compared to GPS, MANETS support built-in geographic location using an extremely accurate form of triangulation, which enables soldiers in a military operation to triangulate the positions of vehicles or devices. MANETS primarily focus on low energy consumption within the network. Devices such as SDRs can reduce the energy consumption within an ad-hoc network as less energy is consumed at the transmitter and receiver nodes. MANETS are being deployed on a large scale due to the increasing use of UAS for both surveillance and military war operations that generate a massive amount of data that needs to be transferred between command centers and tactical communication networks. There is a huge opportunity for MANETS to proliferate rapidly in the military communications market.
The military communication market can be broadly classified as Land/Troop Communication, Navy, and Airforce. Land Communication refers to all communication systems on combat vehicles, which are personal vehicle carriers and MBT to name a few. Troop communication systems include soldier-mounted radio systems. Soldier mounted radios are being replaced with mobile telephony systems and SATCOM, due to the higher reliability of the systems
Satellite communications play a vital role in the global telecommunications system. Approximately 2,000 artificial satellites orbiting Earth relay analog and digital signals carrying voice, video, and data to and from one or many locations worldwide. Satellite communication has two main components: the ground segment, which consists of fixed or mobile transmission, reception, and ancillary equipment, and the space segment, which primarily is the satellite itself. Both the commercial and military satellite communication industry is evolving, as evidenced by numerous trends that one can expect to see on the horizon over the coming 18 months and beyond. The increase in small satellites, the use of low-Earth orbit (LEO), launches on reusable rocket launch vehicles and new use cases for 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT) are some of the most important developments to watch. The commercial and military satellite market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 76.6% during this period with a cumulative $195.11 billion over the period 2020-2028.
Communications interoperability and collaboration between different defense agencies or departments is a critical issue. Interoperability enhances the ability of forces from different nations to work effectively in a synchronized manner. Spectrum allocation, rapidly changing technologies, changing nature of operations, and inadequate funding add to the interoperability issues in military communications. Using similar communication equipment globally may be a solution but is not feasible. The current operations in military communications need to be scalable to meet the increasing demands in communication services. This is achieved through adaptable communication that ensures the changing requirements of varied operating environments are met. For secure end-to-end communications, Secure Communications Interoperability Protocols (SCIP) is the next-generation interoperability standard. Many IP-based network interoperability solutions have also been introduced, and their adoption is expected to grow during the forecast period.
The privacy and security of military communication is the primary requirement of the defense sector. The increasing volume of IP-based data, such as situational awareness video and remote sensor data, transmitted over standard interfaces drives the need for advanced data network security. Moreover, securing military satellites against cyber-attacks has become increasingly crucial as cyber resources on the ground, air, and space are vulnerable to various threats. As military communication data and network infrastructure are critical, security breaches to the same may risk the safety of citizens.
To avoid this, the defense sector is adopting secure military communication solutions. For instance, in October 2017, the US Air Force introduced military-code or M-Code, an advanced GPS signal, to improve anti-jamming and protection from spoofing and provide secure access to military GPS signals. The US Air Force awarded a USD 45.5 million contract to Lockheed Martin to provide M-code early-use capability for the GPS satellites. In the same year, for secure satellite communications, the US Army planned to buy backpack-sized radios that can operate on the Navy’s Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) waveform to provide secure voice and data services. Thus, the challenge of keeping up with malicious network and data attacks will intensify the demand for advanced and secure military communication solutions.
The adoption of advanced and innovative technologies and products is a constant challenge for militaries due to budgetary limitations and developing skilled personnel. Budget constraints often hinder the adoption of advanced communication systems. Countries in the European Union recovering from economic stress have also shown intentions to cut their respective defense budgets. Countries around the world are exploring and inviting new alternatives in military communications to reduce costs. Presently, the COTS technique is the potential choice for governments to lower costs. Therefore, the military communications industry is shifting from defense suppliers to commercial providers. For instance, the US DoD’s budgets are low; thereby the military will be forced to spend less on communication equipment and other military equipment.
In terms of components, the market is bifurcated into software and hardware. The software segment held a 26.5% defense communication market share in 2018 and is expected to grow at a fast pace throughout the forecast period. This growth is attributable to the higher usage of software-defined radio (SDR) systems in military forces. SDR offers improved functions to the end-user. It is also capable of transmitting data, voice, and video across dissimilar systems. Besides, it can integrate cross banding and can perform multi modes of operations by utilizing multiple frequency bands.
These devices are commonly used in critical situations and high stress locations such as war zones, burning buildings, construction sites in close proximity to intense environmental conditions, varying pressures, and others. The sensitive nature of the equipment places high emphasis on the need for standards and regulations and is anticipated to drive tactical communications market demand. Hence, the vendors operating in the industry are subjected to stringent regulations and standards. For instance, the equipment manufactured for military applications are expected to adhere to MIL-STD-810 and MIL STD 461e. These contain strict guidelines for the raw materials to be used in the manufacturing and the disposal of the used equipment. For instance, AS/NZS 1270:2002 specifies the requirements for the materials, design, performance, and testing of specialist acoustic hearing protectors.
Government regulations to ensure the safety of the workers is anticipated to boost the tactical communications market value as non-adherence to these regulations can hold the employer liable to legal action and lawsuits. OSHA has specified that employers are not allowed to expose their workers to sound levels higher than a certain range without the provision of protective head and ear gear. High risk tactical operations require continuous data interchange without external sound interference.
Geographic Market Segmentation
Based on the region, the market is segregated into North America, Asia Pacific, Europe, and the rest of the world. The rising global investments in the procurement of advanced tactical communications systems to replace the old and conventional systems in North America, Europe, and the APAC region is another factor that is expected to fuel the growth of the Global Military Communications Market.
Out of these, North America procured USD 15.35 billion in Military Communications Market revenue in 2018. It occurred because of the existence of numerous prominent communication equipment and system manufacturers in this region. North America is expected to dominate the Global Military Communications Market in 2029 with a market value of around U$D 11.3 billion owing to the ongoing military modernization programs in the nation. North America is expected to be the fastest-growing market over the forecast period with a CAGR of around 3.73%.
Europe is expected to be the second-largest market with a value of around U$D 9.2 billion. Europe is anticipated to grow considerably fueled by the presence of several naval and airborne communication solution manufacturers, namely, Cobham Plc. and Thales Group.
The Asia Pacific, on the other hand, is projected to showcase robust growth in the coming years backed by the rising deliveries of commercial aircraft in developing nations, such as China and India. Apart from that, these countries are experiencing a surge in military spending to remold their military systems for strengthening the defense sector. The fast-growing economies of the Asia Pacific region are improving their defense capabilities. Technological advancements in military communications in Asia Pacific also offer opportunities for the market to grow. Countries such as India, Japan, and China and increasing terrorist activities in the region contribute to the growth of the market.
Key players in the military communications market include Aselsan (Turkey), BAE Systems (UK), Cobham (UK), Elbit Systems (Israel), General Dynamics (US), Harris (US), Inmarsat (UK), Iridium Communications (US), Israel Aerospace Industries (Israel), Kongsberg (Norway), L3 Technologies (US), Leonardo (Italy), Lockheed Martin (US), Northrop Grumman (US), Raytheon (US), Rheinmetall (Germany), Rockwell Collins (US), Rolta India (India), Saab (Sweden), Systematic (Denmark), Thales (France), Viasat (US), EID (Portugal), Kratos Defense & Security Solutions (US), and Rohde & Schwarz (Germany). These companies have adopted different growth strategies, such as expansions, agreements, collaborations, partnerships, acquisitions, new product launches, and product enhancements to increase their shares in the marke.
Companies operating in the tactical communications market include 3M, Sepura, Bose Corporation, Silynx Communications, FreeLinc Technologies Inc, Savox Communications, David Clark Inc, INVISIO Communications, Threat4, Marlborough Communications Limited, Motorola Solutions, and TEA Headsets. Companies invest highly in R&D to improve the quality of the data transmissions. Bose Corporation, for instance, developed aviation headsets that are equipped with customized audio prioritization and Bluetooth audio functionality.
References and Resources also include: