Countries around the world are gradually adopting 5G for general communications and military activities. 5G stands for fifth-generation mobile network technology, which is a high-speed, high-bandwidth, and low-latency Internet network that will be excellent for a variety of military and defence applications. Simply said, 5G is poised to elevate the current standard (4G LTE) network performance to entirely new heights.
5G will usher in another digital revolution on the battlefield in the twenty-first century, with ultra-high data rates and virtually instantaneous real-time broadcasts.
Real-time cyber-attack detection and response; 5G for “smart” military bases and critical infrastructure; 5G in the “battle network” – real-time maps, etc. are some examples of 5G military applications. 5G for “battlefield wearables,” as well as 5G drones and AI.
Source recently had a virtual roundtable discussion on military-grade 5G technology and how it can be used by India’s armed forces and in government communications. Manoj Kumar Dhaka, Defence Electronics Applications Laboratory (DEAL), Dehradun, MV Raja Shekhar, Director, R&D)- BEL, Maj Gen PK Mallick, (Retd), and Mombasawala Mohmed Saeed, GM-Measurement Solutions, Keysight Technologies India Pvt Ltd were among the speakers who answered some of the queries.
Is 5G an option to look at for defence communication?
“At BEL, we’ve been working for the Army and Air Force to provide them with cellular communication systems,” MV Raja Shekhar says. In reality, in the year 2007, we provided secure telephone subscriber units. In 2016, we delivered another 3G-based unit to the Indian Army.”
“As it provides us with a bigger bandwidth, higher data rate as your ultra dependable low latency form of communication for Internet of Things,” he argues, 5G is a fantastic choice. “This form of machine-to-machine connection also allows us to connect human beings to machines,” he continues. As a result, the potential it presents are enormous.”
“There is a programme going on right now called a byte integrated network terminal, which is also based on 4G today,” he says. When 5G is available, it will undoubtedly replace 4G, and there are numerous programmes in the Indian army that we refer to as BMS or battlefield management system, future infantry soldier as a system, and all of these are opportunities where 5G can actually help people get networked with their position, weapons, and capabilities, whatever the video surveillance systems are, and so it opens up immense opportunities for the entire Indian Defence Forces to be knit together.”
Views on Spectrum and two frequencies
“There is an increasing pressure on many spectrums,” Maj Gen PK Mallick says, sharing his thoughts. You are not utilising the spectrum, according to some logic.”
“You see, the many spectrums will never be completely fresh. Every day, communication satellites will arrive, bringing with them your communication channels, electronic warfare, radars, and air defence data. The majority of them are never present throughout surgeries; the red dots appear just as the procedure is ready to begin.
And at that point, you can’t go back to the telcos and demand that they hand it over to you. As a result, the sub-6 GHz spectrum is in controversy in the context of 5G.” “In my opinion, national security imperatives must be considered before any defence spectrum is given up.”
It will be difficult, but we can use the US model as a guide. The United States has assigned a DOD deputy to work side by side with these 5G technologies to see what effect this has on their communications. There is a means to find out, and we may want to keep track of the various activities that are taking place,” he adds.
View on adopting new technologies for enhanced efficiency and security in services
“Every sensor, every platform is becoming smart, they are having some kind of intelligence,” says Manoj Kumar Dhaka, “so that a lot of data is getting collected and processed for making it smart, so that they can become, to some extent, autonomous in taking decisions as well.”
From that standpoint, I believe this technology is quite welcome, especially in the military arena, because it can manage very large data rates. Another area where it excels is latency of one millisecond or less.
Order control applications will be quite useful, as you will be able to just provide a command to your UAVs and they will perform the rest. So, in my opinion, this technology has huge military potential, but there is always a penalty, and when we talk about defence applications, there is something more than commercial applications, which is basically, you know, the safeguards that their network should not be penetrated at all.”
“You have to perform a cost benefit analysis,” Gen Mallick says. “It’s very easy to say, Okay, we’ll do this, you know, remote autonomous vehicles and all that.” Yes, it is conceivable, and it will be possible once 5G is available. But everything has a price, so if putting this together is less expensive than a normal human operating a car, go ahead and do it.
But, as you know, these principles and all of them must be confirmed on the ground, and keep in mind that we work in extremely challenging terrain where you must see how vehicles operate in one-way tracks and capture tracks.”