Exclusive: IDF on cusp of inaugurating robust Internet radio communication system

To win wars, forces must be able to talk to one another, senior C4i Branch officer tells ‘Post.’

Soldiers from the IDF C4i Branch operating equipment (photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
Soldiers from the IDF C4i Branch operating equipment
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
The IDF will activate a Radio over Internet Protocol communications network in the coming days, a senior military officer told The Jerusalem Post this week.
The RoIP network was designed and created by the C4i Branch’s Maof Unit, which has some 120 military engineers and 80 supporting officers.
The communications system would allow military headquarters in regional commands, and the General Staff, to speak with field units via a secure, robust and adaptable system, and is part of a drive to integrate all of the IDF’s branches. RoIP systems are generally faster to repair and restore in the case of a problems over a wide area.
“Radio over IP was invented right here, in our premises,” the senior officer said. “We believe that to win wars, we still have to talk to each other, despite the developing digital communication networks.”
The Maof Unit is behind a series of rapidly evolving military communication networks, and works with Israeli and international corporations, which cannot be named, to develop them. It invented all of the systems used by the Home Front Command to alert millions of civilians about imminent rocket attacks. The unit is behind the Home Front Command’s ability to command and control civilian emergency responders such as police and paramedics.
The unit is about to launch an ambitious upgrade of the Home Front Command’s Color Red rocket-warning sirens, and of its mass media alert system.
“We are going for a very advanced siren system based on an IP network, which is fed by many sensors,” the officer said.
In recent months, the unit has been busy linking up the ground forces’ command and control system, called Mesua (Torch), to the systems used by the air force and navy, and to the General Staff.
“They need a common language to work together. We define that language here, to enable integration,” the source said.
Alongside this effort, the Maof Unit is developing a Tactical Connectivity project, to enable direct user-to-user communications right across the IDF, irrespective of military branch.
This allows direct communication between a tank and a combat helicopter, or an infantry commander and a missile ship.
“It is a revolution in communications,” said the officer.
He spoke of a breakthrough in a visual intelligence distribution system, which serves the IDF General Staff and regional commands.
“A picture is worth a thousand words,” the officer said, adding that the latest version of the system will allow senior command levels to access critical visual intelligence on enemy activity, whether it comes from a satellite, drone or other platforms.
In the coming year, the unit will complete a project to create a Voice over IP landline phone system linking the IDF, and in 2016, it plans to launch a fourth-generation high speed data cellular network for the IDF.
“We also have a satellite communications branch,” the officer said. “It aims to deliver operational communications anywhere.”
Special forces operating far from the nation’s borders can send or receive visual intelligence, and access command and control systems such as Mesua from anywhere in the world, thanks to military satellites.
Additional projects in the pipeline include one to create a 100-gigabyte bandwidth network linking IDF bases and stationary facilities in 2015.