Electronic Weapons: May 27, 2002


The military is trying to develop something similar to the cell phone for battlefield use. There have already been combat (often peacekeeping) situations where the bad guys had better communications because they were using cell phones while the troops were using their rather old fashioned (by comparison) military radios. Existing cell phones, however, have short comings. If an area is too shot up (cell phone broadcast towers and electrical service destroyed), the cell phones won't work. And even when they do work, the troops often have equipment available to monitor them, and locate where the users are. A military equivalent of the cell phone overcomes these shortcomings by using battery powered radios that send and receive encrypted messages over a wireless network. The technology for this is already available off the shelf. But the military, particularly the U.S. Department of Defense, is worried that the slow American procurement process will always be getting the last generation of equipment for the troops. Worse, the older equipment may have an encryption scheme that has already been cracked by hackers. Solutions are being sought.


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