Military Software Defined Radio (SDR)

Manufacturers and suppliers of software defined radios for military applications, including tactical SDR transceivers and technology for defense; army, navy, marines, and air force
Overview Military Software Defined Radio (SDR)
By Staff Writer Last updated: October 20th, 2023

Military SDR

Software-defined radios (SDRs) use software to carry out functions that are typically implemented in hardware in traditional radio systems. They can be easily reconfigured to provide a wide range of functionality on a common set of hardware. This capability makes them indispensable for military and defense usage, as armed forces can rapidly adapt to changing battlefield conditions and threats, and future-proof their communications systems.

Frequency Bands & Applications

Sentry-M 6170-HH Handheld multiband military SDR by DTC

Sentry-M 6170-HH Handheld Multiband Military SDR by DTC

The radios are used to transmit voice and data over UHF, VHF or HF (ultra-high/very high/high frequency) for applications such as battlefield communications, ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance), military ATC (air traffic control), and radar control. They may also be able to interface with SATCOM networks to provide over-the-horizon communications-on-the-move (COTM).

Form Factors

Tactical SDRs may come in a variety of form factors, suitable for handheld and dismounted soldier roles, armored vehicles, aircraft, UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) and UGVs (unmanned ground vehicles), naval vessels, and fixed sites such as command posts.

SDR Transceivers

SDR2x1W-P Compact SDR Transceiver by DTC

SDR2x1W-P Compact SDR Transceiver by DTC

The hardware in SDRs typically uses an FPGA (field-programmable gate array) or system-on-chip (SoC) to perform intensive digital signal processing (DSP) computation. Multiple waveforms may be in use on a tactical SDR unit, allowing for a range of different capabilities including MIMO (multiple input multiple output) and MANET (mobile ad hoc networking), as well as the ability to interface with IP networks and provide VoIP (voice over IP).

Rugged, Encrypted & Compatible

Cryptographic capabilities such as AES-128 and AES-256 encryption may be built into SDR transceivers, or added to the system via a plug-in crypto module. Military software-defined radio platforms may need to be designed to provide interoperability with NATO systems and standards such as SATURN and Link 22. SDRs for U.S. Department of Defense applications may also need to be compatible with the Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) ecosystem, which is currently under development.

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