Skip to Main Content
Mobile ad hoc networking of dismounted combat personnel is expected to play an important role in the future of network-centric operations. High-speed, short-range, soldier-to-soldier wireless communications will be required to relay information on situational awareness, tactical instructions, and covert surveillance related data during special operations reconnaissance and other missions. This article presents some of the work commissioned by the U.K. Ministry of Defence to assess the feasibility of using 60 GHz millimeter-wave smart antenna technology to provide covert communications capable of meeting these stringent networking needs. Recent advances in RF front-end technology, alongside physical layer transmission schemes that could be employed in millimeter-wave soldier- mounted radio, are discussed. The introduction of covert communications between soldiers will require the development of a bespoke directive medium access layer. A number of adjustments to the IEEE 802.11 distribution coordination function that will enable directional communications are suggested. The successful implementation of future smart antenna technologies and direction of arrival-based protocols will be highly dependent on thorough knowledge of transmission channel characteristics prior to deployment. A novel approach to simulating dynamic soldier-to-soldier signal propagation using state-of-the-art animation-based technology developed for computer game design is described, and important channel metrics such as root mean square angle and delay spread for a team of four networked infantry soldiers over a range of indoor and outdoor environments is reported.