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5G in Defence – Enhancing Military Operations

In today’s world, technology has become an essential part of military operations. The application of 5G in defence networks is already making waves globally. This next-generation wireless technology has the potential to revolutionize the Defence network. It promises not only unprecedented speeds but also reliability and connectivity.

But how exactly can the Military extract its potential? Let us examine the details and uncover how 5G can revolutionize Defence Networks.

4G vs 5G

Fig 1: Comparison between 4G and 5G

Understanding 5G

Before we explore the application for the Military, let us try to understand 5G.

5G, the abbreviation for the fifth generation of mobile networks, represents a significant jump in wireless communication technology. Unlike its predecessors, 5G is predominantly wireless, offering unmatched speeds, capacity, and reliability. It can support up to a million devices per square kilometer, a significant improvement compared to the only one thousand devices per square kilometer supported by 4G networks.

Key Features of 5G

With its revolutionary features and capabilities, 5G’s application in defence networks holds immense promise for transforming military operations and defence strategies. With its ultra-reliable and low-latency communications, 5G offers a solid foundation for enhancing tactical communications, network segmentation, autonomous systems, augmented reality training, real-time surveillance, and extending connectivity to remote areas through satellite-enabled networks.

Let us look at some of the key features of 5G in detail:

Ultra-Reliable and Low Latency Communications (URLLC):

  • Response time reduces to just 1 millisecond in 5G networks, making instant and important communication possible.
  • This ultra-low latency is important for crucial military applications, ensuring quick decision-making and response times.

Massive Machine Type Communications (mMTC):

  • 5G supports over a million devices per square kilometer, enabling the deployment of IoT solutions for monitoring, surveillance, and coordination of unmanned systems.
  • mMTC capability enhances situational awareness and operational efficiency by enabling seamless communication between various devices and systems on the battlefield.

Frequency Bands:

  • Operating below 6 GHz initially before migrating to higher frequency bands, 5G has more bandwidth for data transfer.
  • This expanded bandwidth allows for the transmission of large volumes of data. It is also essential for military operations and data-intensive tasks.

Advanced Network Architecture:

  • 5G Networks have two layers; the Radio Access Network (RAN) and the Core Network.
  • RAN involves deploying small cells in strategic locations to provide extensive coverage with macro-networks (The Core Network) for uninterrupted connectivity.

Global Coverage:

  • As millimetric wave frequencies become the norm, the 4G towers will be replaced by MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) antennas. 5G Macro Cells will use MIMO antennas that have multiple elements or connections to send and receive more data simultaneously.
  • Also, this has the capability to be integrated with the internet and cloud-based services. Eventually they will be linked to satellite systems for seamless global coverage.

Applications of 5G in Defence

It is believed that 5g will bring a digital revolution to the battlefield. This competitive edge is made possible by the availability of ultra-high data rates and virtually instantaneous transmissions.

Let us delve into some of the applications of 5G networks in defence:

Massive Improvement in Tactical Communications:

5G is designed to provide seamless and secure communication channels for armed forces in the field. From real-time battlefield coordination to ad hoc networks in emergencies, it promises a very reliable connectivity and hence improving situational awareness and operational efficiency

Network Slicing: Segmentation and Prioritization:

Defense networks usually require a very strict segmentation and prioritization to ensure critical operations receive optimal network resources. 5G network can be sliced into various layers, allowing different applications and user groups to operate independently while maintaining security and quality of service.

Autonomous Vehicles & Drones:

5G networks can support the connectivity and data transfer requirements of autonomous vehicles and drones, allowing for remote operation and control in battlefield scenarios, thus reducing risks to human operators.

5G-powered Augmented Reality for Training:

One of 5G’s capabilities is powering Augmented Reality (AR). Armed forces on the field can utilize AR technology to simulate various training scenarios, thus improving situational awareness and training effectiveness.

Real-time Enemy Surveillance:

The high-speed data transmission and low latency of 5G technology allow armed forces to deploy surveillance systems that provide real-time intelligence on enemy movements and activities. This, in turn, enhances intelligence and tactical decision-making.

Intersection of NTN and 5G in defence:

5G can also enable Satellite Communication. It can extend coverage to remote areas and provide critical connectivity for tactical military users and first responders. Non-terrestrial networks (NTNs) leverage space-borne assets to deliver ubiquitous cellular coverage, empowering military operations in previously inaccessible regions.

Specific use cases of 5G in Defence Sector

Now let’s look at specific cases where various military organizations worldwide are exploiting the potential of 5G to achieve profound levels of operational efficiency and strategic agility on the battlefield.

Indian Armed Forces:

  • The Indian Army is leading the charge in leveraging 5G technology to enhance operational capabilities and communication infrastructure. In collaboration with MeitY, they are developing military-grade 5G applications for enhanced situational awareness and intelligence gathering.
  • Through initiatives like setting up a 5G lab at MCTE and partnerships with institutions like IIT Madras, the Army aims to deploy 5G networks along border regions, reaffirming its commitment to modernizing defense strategies and securing national borders.

USA Department of Defense:

  • The US DoD has identified various use cases for 5G networks, including AR/VR applications for enhanced training and situational simulations.
  • Additionally, organizations utilize 5G networks to connect and manage IoT devices and sensors, improving situational awareness and decision-making.
  • These networks also support communication between autonomous vehicles, drones, and unmanned systems, enhancing coordination and control in military operations.

Latvian Military Testbed (LMT):

  • LMT, in collaboration with the Latvian National Armed Forces, launched Europe’s first 5G military testbed.
  • The testbed at Camp Ādaži facilitates developing, testing, and demonstrating 5G applications for defense purposes.
  • Recent enhancements include the deployment of additional standalone P5G networks for centralized innovation testing, as well as plans for remote AR/VR training, command and control, and maintenance activities.

 

It is essential to recognize the profound impact of 5G in defence, especially concerning modern defense operations and strategies. With its revolutionary features and capabilities, 5G has emerged as a cornerstone for transforming how armed forces communicate, coordinate, and conduct missions.

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