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Secure Communications in Worldwide Networks By Steff Taylor, Business Development Manager at Spectra Group (UK) Ltd.


satSecure and reliable communications networks are required by Military Forces and Government agencies all around the world on a daily basis. This is particularly true for those working in hostile environments, or those with compromised, damaged or otherwise limited infrastructure.

In these situations, strategic communications are paramount. BLOS (Beyond Line of Sight) capabilities are required for liaison with ground forces, protection of civilians, search and rescue missions, and military operations. Satellite-enabled devices can deliver this.

UHF TACSAT is one of the main worldwide networks used by forces and agencies, yet this in itself presents a number of problems. As a communications medium that utilises a narrow and often-congested military satellite spectrum, UHF TACSAT is generally only available to high priority users. It has a very limited capability for communications on the move (COTM) and, in general, is an extremely scarce resource.

For these reasons government and military users, needing a secure and reliable global network when facing the challenges and issues presented by modern day operations and deployments, have begun to look for complementary solutions.

These users require a solution that not only performs in environments with compromised or limited infrastructure but can also operate on a secure platform and deliver near global coverage.

In 2012 satellite communications provider, Spectra Group UK, introduced SlingShot®. SlingShot is a communications solution that effectively provides an alternative to UHF TACSAT system anywhere that BLOS and/or secure communications are required in nearly every region of the world. The position of the Inmarsat I4 satellite constellation means that the coverage is weak only at the Poles, although SlingShot has provided robust communications as far north as 82 degrees.

As a small, lightweight and portable device that works by converting existing tactical radios into satellite-enabled devices, capable of utilising the L-TAC service provided by Inmarsat, SlingShot is the only solution of its type that offers near global communications coverage using a handheld UHF or VHF radio, without investing in additional infrastructure, technology options or repeater stations. The way in which the device works with the radio also means that it utilises the proprietary encryption of the radio, thus not relying on third party encryption for secure communications.

Business Development Manager, Steff Taylor, explained: “SlingShot works perfectly with both UHF and VHF in-service tactical radios used by most forces and governments around the world – and thanks to Spectra’s partnership with Inmarsat and the use of its global satellite constellation providing the L-TAC service, secure coverage is provided for all users wherever and whenever required, offering BLOS and COTM voice and data communications that are resilient and provide worldwide connectivity to users.”

Using omni-directional antennae ensures that communications are reliable, even on the move and at speeds in excess of 80mph (130kph) in hostile environments. With systems available for maritime, aviation and land platforms, as well as man portable options, SlingShot provides continuous coverage on land, at sea, and in the air.

This, combined with the option of providing fully customised and relocatable beams to ensure the area of operation is fully covered and secure, without interference from operations outside of the specific targeted area, is what makes SlingShot the ideal solution for military forces and government agencies in establishing a secure worldwide communication network.

Steff Taylor, Business Development Manager at Spectra Group (UK) Ltd,


Steff Taylor is Business Development Manager at Spectra Group (UK) Ltd. Spectra is a leading international provider to Defence & Security, Aid & Emergency and commercial organisations, of secure voice, data and satellite communications, in locations with limited or compromised infrastructure.


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