TCI International, Inc. plans to expand its product line in mid-2021 with a new modular and scalable communications intelligence (COMINT) hardware platform. TCI leverages its 50+ years of RF spectrum expertise to provide the new COMINT platform with higher performance in multiple embodiments to maximize CONOPS flexibility for tactical electronic warfare operations. Performance enhancements include broader instantaneous bandwidths (IBWs); scalable and higher bandwidth digital downconverters (DDCs); faster scan rates; and expanded networking capabilities.
A rack-mounted version provides lower size, weight and power (SWaP) installations for mobile vehicle, shipboard and transportable applications supporting high levels of processing for operational and tactical operations. The new platform is backwards compatible with existing TCI COMINT systems to maximize reuse of existing assets and minimize total lifecycle cost.
A new man-portable version will supplement the capabilities of TCI’s current generation Model 903S with an integrated server processor, enhanced network capabilities and increased battery life in an IP67-rated form factor. These improvements provide electronic warfare platoons enhanced signal detection, location and identification capabilities and a wider range of deployment options. Special forces operations will also benefit from the enhanced CONOPS flexibility, particularly where unattended covert operations are required.
The new COMINT platform will operate TCI’s Blackbird NextGen signal detection, acquisition and processing software with new capabilities including: enhanced spectral shape capabilities; integrated, multi-site networking and data collection; a common emitter database and NATO symbology; and an improved common operating picture (COP). These capabilities improve both the local commander’s ability to rapidly visualize the electromagnetic operational environment and a central command center’s broader view.
TCI plans to implement a new radio frequency machine learning (RFML) capability on the new COMINT platform in 2021. TCI is developing RF signal processing that will apply machine learning to time-series I/Q radio samples and channel measurements, enabling it to learn from data.
RFML employs a form of artificial intelligence (AI) to learn the characteristics of RF signals in order to detect and identify them. The process includes training an RFML engine using real-world RF signals to enable their detection and classification in near real time. By training the system to learn signals from the I/Q representation, systems can achieve better performance than traditional decision-tree approaches. TCI will utilize real-world signals to train the RFML engine, ensuring the neural network is able to rapidly learn new signals and quickly adapt to changing RF environments.
TCI’s RFML implementation, dubbed Blackbird EDGETM, moves signal processing, identification and geolocation to the sensor at the edge of the network – a process known as edge computing. In tactical military deployments, TCI’s innovative solution enables faster RF situational awareness, threat assessment and countermeasures engagement. Blackbird EDGE can move decision-making down the chain of command to the front lines during rapidly evolving engagements, then supply actionable intelligence up the command structure to populate the broader common operational picture.
Thus, military forces can derive both operational and tactical benefits from COMINT / SIGINT without having to choose between the two.