Simulating Adverse Weather & Terrain Condition to Test Radio Over IP (ROIP) EquipmentArmed Forces around the world have, for many years, relied on analogue based radio systems to communicate between infantry, vehicles, aircraft etc and great strides have been made to make these more reliable and efficient. However, analogue based systems are increasingly being replaced with IP communications over radio networks as this allows not only voice to be sent but also data, including commands, positions etc.
The importance of Radio over IP (ROIP) to military operations was recently demonstrated by the announcement in January 2008 by US Central Command that it is now using its new RIPRNET (Radio-over-IP Router Network) for convoy operations in Iraq.
Unfortunately, all radio networks are subject to problems with terrain and adverse weather etc.. Troops, tanks etc, which are deployed in mountainous regions or built-in urban environments frequently suffer radio interference. This interference can be due to the local terrain or adverse weather conditions, and IP transmissions are particularly sensitive to this. And of course the interference could be deliberate as well.
Radio Over IP Network Environtment SimulationRecreating the Right Radio Networks in the Lab
Recognising these issues, the producers of Radio over IP [ROIP] equipment are looking for ways to ensure that any new products they are developing are capable of operating effectively in adverse conditions.
An approach to this has been to attempt to simulate field conditions by creating radio reflections and interference etc, in a laboratory whilst using radio reflectors and radio sources. Unfortunately, this approach is flawed. Using these methods to set-up a particular networked radio environment, never allows the re-creation of the same conditions, so you would never be able to repeat the test or make it just the way you want it – it would be difficult to get the reflector to get it right.
Itheon Networks, as a company that specializes in the testing and performance of IP based data applications is helping a leading defense sector contractor to develop simulated IP network environments that can be used to test the resilience of Radio over IP [ROIP] systems and equipment before they are actually deployed in the field. Itheon’s network emulation products enable the tester to program whatever conditions are desired, be it equivalent to mountains and rocky terrain, a violent thunderstorm or a battle environment.
Radio Network Emulation
Network Emulation Provides the Key
The defense contractor using Itheon’s technology researched the market place and found that the Itheon Network Emulator-Enterprise (INE-Enterprise) offered unique functionality to enable the reproduction of easily repeatable but very realistic test environments. Using wired connectors, INE is able to test devices and can emulate the behavior of radio networks, allowing for full and repeatable controls of issues such as data loss and interference.
Another unique feature is that it has built in to the system a concept of a shared radio net – including the ability to control the amount of time the radio net must have before another station begins transmitting. Additionally the ability to limit the maximum time a station can transmit before bring forced to cease transmission correctly mimics real world transmissions, as there can be only one transmitter operating at any given time on a given frequency.
Radio Thunderstorm TestingA Radio Thunderstorm in a Box!
Suppose for example, the testers know that the electrical conditions in a thunder storm are likely to adversely affect the Radio over IP communication devices being used out in the field – how do they test that? Do they sit with multiple devices in a field waiting for a thunder storm? No. By using INE – Enterprise they can create a virtual thunderstorm on an emulated radio net. So there is no need to wait for a thunderstorm to happen to test that condition – they can call the thunderstorm to order and further more can repeat the same conditions over and over again.
Repeatable, Consistent and Controlerable IP Network EmulatioThe big advantage is that all the variables that can happen out in the field conditions can be accurately created and controlled. One distinction that does need to be made, is that IP network emulation allows the data transmitted to have ‘real’ conditions such as packet drop / damage and reordering applied to it, as opposed to simulators that simply calculate the impact of the proposed changes.
Therefore, with emulation, it is a case of “what you see is genuinely what you get” and it allows testers of prototypes the ability to see exactly how radio communication devices are working in a ‘real’ networked scenario, and therefore fully comprehend how the ROIP will behave, in the field.
Reduce the Need for Field Trials
In addition to the ability to set up consistent and controllable ROIP test condition, using the Itheon Network Emulator also helps to reduce the need to conduct real field trials until much later to the product development lifecycle which can really help cut costs.
Itheon Network Emulators are also used to simulate satellite, ship to shore and land to air radio comms systems.
Radio Encryption for Military IP Networks: HF, VHF, UHF – HC-2650
TRC-20H Croatian made military radio based on PRC-515
Frequency range 2 to 30MHz with 1kHz step
PEP output power 20W or low 2W
TRC-20H with voice cripto and frequency hopping for secure comunications