The General advantages in this situation are a direct consequence of the use of L-band Iridium SATCOM, as antennas do not need high directionality (as for Ku or Ka band links), and satellite visibility is generally very good. This permits the management of extended borders with limited resource.
The scenario portrays a land border, but applies equally to an open water boundary. The border fencing is conceptual, and may not be a physical boundary in itself. A number of surveillance assets will be available, ranging from surveillance towers, UAVs, ground sensors to mobile patrols reporting on activity.
A fixed surveillance generally provides optical or radar surveillance of the border.
- The NORTAC Defence® solution is not designed to provide wide bandwidth transmission of images in the different wavelengths for remote assessment, but rather relies on local data interpretation. It provides a reliable and low-cost means of sending brief text reports, and immediate alarms or indications of suspicious activity on the border.
- The availability of prompt indication of such incursions or suspicious activity is of great value in maintaining SA of the sector. The NORTAC Defence® C2SA can provide the local asset with indications of areas of particular interest through the retransmission of incident alarms, or specific text messages to operators.
- Similar arguments can be applied to mobile unmanned sensors, such as UAVs. Again, the NORTAC Defence® offering provides reliable and rapid notification of position and incident detection, generating appropriate SA.
Unmanned ground sensors can be based on seismic, acoustic, or other means of detecting activity. They generally will be very low power consumption devices, covert or overt, to fill gaps in the local surveillance assets.
- The inclusion of a NORTAC Defence® node in such sensors provides a cost-effective means of generating alerts when activity is detected. Such alarms are transmitted to the local control centre for action.
Management of a border is a complex affair, and resources will always be insufficient. The use of automated sensors with readily deployable response units is perhaps the most effective means of providing appropriate security.
- The Iridium satellite network provides communications in difficult terrain for both sensors and deployable forces, which can be coordinated for maximum effectiveness by effective SA at the headquarters. The TITAN BY NORTAC® solution provides this integration capability and record keeping for legal purposes and can be deployed on industry-standard COTS platforms as required.
- The function of the network is to provide timely information for decision-making, and to permit appropriate responses from more mobile units. It provides the underpinning SA and complements other radio means to provide resilience and cost-effective communications.
- The availability of text messaging as an additional function provides secondary or alternative transmission of key messages or updates if the main radio is unable to link due to terrain or other challenges.
Mobile patrols, particularly at irregular intervals, can be a major deterrent to border incursions. However, such patrols are expensive, and need to be used as effectively as possible.
- The TITAN BY NORTAC® tool permits the integration of the tactical picture, and the deployment of such patrols to tackle incidents as they are detected. This can be a very cost-effective force multiplier and depends on the reliability of the LEO SATCOM Iridium solution.
- Mobile patrols can be provided with a basic tool, normally a NORTAC WAVE® SATCOM transceiver, to complement or supplant their normal radios. This tool can act as a backup mode of communications and provides SA positional information automatically to the HQ. A more complete SA display can also be provided by the network if a more capable device, such as a PDA or mobile, is available for graphical and map integration – an apt use for the NORTAC ORION™ mobile solution.
Similar arguments can be deployed for the value added by the NORTAC Defence® network for any available air assets, such as helicopters. The value for airborne sensors, such as UAVs, was mentioned earlier.
Iridium Satellite characteristics
The LEO Iridium constellation provides global coverage and short message latency. Iridium offers the short-data message mode of operation, which is very low cost and appropriate to basic SA needs, such as position reporting and specific messages for border surveillance.