Updated with new imagery.
A consortium of Australian companies have successfully demonstrated an advanced radio system to the Australian Army, which now needs to decide if this sovereign capability will form the basis of its future tactical communications.
The 31 companies, led by Canberra firm EOS, demonstrated a slice of the system in field trials in Canberra in October, then showcased what’s on offer to senior officers and defence personnel in an exposition at Defence headquarters.
Significantly, this new technology can be accredited at secure level, previously a significant barrier to Australian firms. Traditionally, Defence has sourced its secure radios overseas from firms such as US company L3Harris.
The demonstration is called C4 EDGE (Evolutionary Digital Ground Environment), and was developed as a concept demonstrator to show Army the capabilities of Australian firms.
In a December 8 release, Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said the $35 million C4 EDGE initiative had demonstrated Australian industry’s ability to design, develop and manufacture Army’s radio equipment in Australia.
“Critical defence capabilities, such as mobile tactical radio communication systems, will be designed and manufactured locally,” she said. “This will greatly improve supply chain resilience.”
EOS Defence Systems Australia’s new CEO, Matt Jones told ADBR, “We have given Army some options about how we can take this from proof of concept to product and we think that requires an investment of money and time in the order of a couple of years.
“The approach that we would suggest going forward is a risk mitigation activity which can inform their future requirement for future major acquisition and at the same time take the proof of concept we have developed and successfully demonstrated and turn that into a product,” he added.
C4 EDGE is a tactical communication network (TCN) that links individual soldiers and vehicles at section and platoon level up to battlegroup headquarters, and sits below the Currawong battlefield communications network (BCN) which links division, brigade, and battalion.
The field demonstration featured a slice of capability, with a single network employing satellite communications, HF beyond line-of-sight communications, line-of-sight UHF mesh radio, and line-of-sight L-band mesh radio.
“The services offered over the network were voice, data and control of the uncrewed systems employed within the combat team,” Jones said. “Rather than having specific radio networks dedicated to controlling UGV, we ran that control over the same network.”