The US Army has awarded a $5.4m contract to Persistent Systems for the development of secure communications for manned-unmanned teams (MUM-T).

The 14-month contract has been awarded by the US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command C5ISR Center.

This system will provide a robust and secure communication network for robotic and autonomous systems.

According to US Army, the next-generation Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) would be networked with up to four unmanned remote combat vehicles (RCVs), sensor / weapons payloads and a wider force and command structure.

This kind of network capability would require secure connectivity.

Persistent business development vice-president Brian Soles said: “The army wants RCVs that can be remotely operated in groups over very long distances, in cities, forests, and open terrain.

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“These manned-unmanned teams will also have to deal with the threat of enemy hacking and jamming.

“The application of the work done under this contract won’t be limited to vehicles. The idea is to get these same hardened capabilities to dismounted soldiers, which will greatly enhance our ability to operate against more sophisticated adversaries.”

Under the deal, Persistent will continue to adapt its MPU5 for contested manned-unmanned operations.

The company will perform the work with the C5ISR Center’s Space and Terrestrial Communications Directorate.

The MPU5 with its Wave Relay MANET has been selected for RCV Phase I. The selection was done by the Next Generation Combat Vehicle cross-functional team (NGCV-CFT) and the Ground Vehicle Systems Center (GVSC).

The MPU5 is a highly scalable, peer-to-peer network and has an on-board Android computer. It does not rely on the external communication infrastructure and has a build-in video encoder / decoder.

In 2018, a portable ground-to-air antenna has been developed for the MPU5 radio.