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SPX Communication Technologies: scalable and customisable RF capabilities for global defence teams

Marc Haysey, Managing Director at SPX Communication Technologies, shares insight into the challenges faced by today's defence teams, how technology is evolving to meet their RF spectrum monitoring and control needs, and the businesses' next steps in supporting them.

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Marc Haysey, MD, SPX Communication Technologies

Marc Haysey, MD, SPX Communication Technologies

Q: Firstly, can you briefly introduce yourself and your role at SPX Communication Technologies?

A: I'm Managing Director of SPX Communication Technologies UK and the commercial lead for the entire group, covering Wappenham (UK) and Fremont (USA). SPX Communication Technologies is the union of TCI and Enterprise Control Systems (ECS), which brings together decades of expertise in the radio frequency (RF) space.

In my role, I'm responsible for developing and delivering the UK's business strategy while overseeing our global sales and customer support teams. By bringing these teams together we can promptly identify and address any gaps between the challenges our customers face on the ground and the development of our solutions to meet those needs.

Q: What are the key challenges you and your customers are seeing that impact soldiers and defence teams?

A: Firstly, we're witnessing an increasing demand for greater real-time intelligence as soldiers and defence teams operate in highly complex threat landscapes. They need to gather and transmit ever larger volumes of data over longer ranges - from the air to the ground as well as between aircrafts. To do this, they need input from a wide range of sensors - beyond video - to enhance airborne ISR and guarantee teams are always connected in the air.

In this context, we've focused our expertise in advancing our Tactical Data Link solutions. Our Data Links capabilities enable the secure and reliable transfer of large volumes of mission-critical data between enabled aircraft and ground teams, and over long distances.

Another key challenge is the rapid evolution of hostile unmanned aerial systems (UAS), particularly drones. As these get smaller and more intelligent, we move in line to ensure our counter-UAS solutions are as scalable and flexible as possible to keep pace with the evolving threat.

Soldier using BLACKTALON counter-UAS system, developed by SPX Communication Technologies

Soldier using BLACKTALON counter-UAS system, developed by SPX Communication Technologies

Q: What actions is the business taking to help teams stay one step ahead of the next threat?

A: We value listening to and working alongside defence teams. We prioritise their voices and base our business strategy on their perspectives, particularly when it comes to product development and innovation.

Our team regularly meets with customers from across the world to learn about their challenges, how their requirements are evolving, and to make sure we understand the problems they're trying to solve from their point of view. We also closely follow geopolitical trends and consider how they affect our markets. This allows us to anticipate and adapt to changes in the landscape that may impact our operations, supply chain and market opportunities.

While there's no silver bullet for detecting and defeating the vast array of threats present on the battlefield, constant review and assessment of challenges and trends allow us to be ready to adapt and evolve as the world and our end-users require. We're able to be super responsive in our innovation because our strategy is rooted in listening to the customer.

To support customers, we're also strengthening and expanding our network of global in-country partners. Having local representatives across nations allows us to keep up with local issues, identify specific needs and deliver the right products even faster. This also allows us to have an essential presence in places where we can't physically reach due to geopolitical and social tensions, or the inevitable complexity associated with modern conflict.

A recent example is our extended partnership with Depicon, which grants the Belgium-based business development company exclusive rights to offer our Data Link portfolio to aerospace and defence organisations in the Benelux region. This marks a key milestone since our collaboration began in 2017 with a representative agreement covering multiple regions.

Ultimately, by combining our proven technology with local expertise we're able to address challenges with the appropriate solution. This process is based on listening and working collaboratively within the business, and with those customers and partners that benefit from our capabilities.

Q: How has this collaborative approach manifested since the union of TCI and ECS?

A: A clear example is the development of the BLACKTALON counter-UAS system, our first joint offering combining the expertise of both transatlantic teams. BLACKTALON is a fully integrated, scalable and customisable system designed to detect, defeat and track hostile UAS and drones.

One key aspect of BLACKTALON's capabilities is its ability to effectively jam every combination of global navigation satellite system (GNSS), command, control, and telemetry signals used by commercial and military drones. This ensures a decisive advantage in countering UAS threats while simultaneously safeguarding friendly RF signals from any unintended inhibition.

BLACKTALON's cutting-edge technology provides defence and security forces with the necessary tools to maintain airspace dominance and protect critical assets from the ever-evolving UAS landscape. What's more, we're currently working on taking this capability even further with advanced customisation features. We look forward to announcing more in the coming months.

Q: What other solutions are assisting operations across land, sea and air?

A: BLACKTALON is currently being deployed by multiple defence teams across the globe and is proven in active conflict.

Other solutions include our recently introduced Evenlode Video and Audio Encoder / Decoder. This allows aircraft to become network-enabled across land, sea and air domains. It delivers improved low-latency, long-range, high-definition video, audio and data transfer for faster and more accurate intelligence-gathering. The result is compressed video and audio files that can be transferred simultaneously over a lower bandwidth pipe - up to four video files at a time. This real-time data capture and delivery capability ensures effective decisions are made, even on the tactical edge, allowing the necessary information to be selected without disrupting an ongoing operation.

Furthermore, the decoder component mirrors the encoding capabilities, allowing the real-time re-streaming - or transcoding - to multiple destination points such as a command centre or at the tactical edge using mobile devices. This adds flexibility to end-users' video distribution aims in one single solution.

Another solution is the upgraded 953 COMINT RF Receiver, designed for the identification, direction-finding, and tracking of hostile RF signals to support COMINT and counter-UAS tactical operations. Its reduced size and weight means the device is portable for dismounted operations and can be easily mounted on a vehicle to support mobility operations. For instance, it can be placed at an elevated position in a dismounted role, such as a tactical position only accessible on foot, to ensure the antenna is situated for optimum signal detection and increased range.

Q: Looking ahead, what's next for SPX Communication Technologies in the defence space?

A: Our ultimate goal is to sustain the delivery of exceptional results to defence teams across the globe while ensuring a smarter, more secure future for all. To achieve this, we'll continue listening to the voices of those on the ground and maintaining an open dialogue with defence teams and across the business to ensure we're always one step ahead.

We'll also continue to optimise our processes and supply chain by setting up repair and inventory depots across multiple nations. These will enable in-country partners to deliver support and first-line maintenance to the highest standard at the precise moment teams require.

Finally, from a product innovation perspective, we're working to implement technologies like big data and artificial intelligence (AI) to further automate processes and provide deeper analytics to mission-critical information. We look forward to announcing new capabilities throughout the year, particularly in the coming months, to support operational teams across land, sea, and air.

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