Originally appeared at Izvestia; Translated by AlexD exclusively for SouthFront
The Ministry of Defence formed companies composed of teams equipped with mobile repeaters and antennas for cellular communications. The first such units have been already created in the Far East and Siberia. They can create local cellular networks in minutes, connecting to the signal of major federal operators within a radius of 30 to 40 kilometres from the mobile tower. Such equipment is necessary to create information exchange areas closed to the enemy, as well as to establish sustainable communication in areas of natural disasters.
On the mountains and the taiga
The first two companies with mobile cellular communication repeaters have been created as part of the management teams. The unit includes ten cross-country vehicles with equipment. Units deployed in Khabarovsk and Novosibirsk have already received the new equipment, sources in the Ministry of Defence told Izvestia.
Mobile repeater equipment and antenna points have been installed on six-axle KAMAZ trucks. Transmitting and receiving electronic devices are located in sealed boxes, on which powerful retractable antennas are mounted. The new equipment allows to quickly establishing cellular communication by connecting to the networks of major federal operators.
In theory, such equipment can establish a stable cellular communication within a radius of 30 to 40 kilometres from the mobile tower, according to the general director of the analytical company Telecom Daily, Denis Kuskov.
“In some Russian regions there are zones where there is no relevant infrastructure and communication as such,” he told Izvestia. The new mobile complexes will enable rapid expansion of coverage in the event of military or terrorist incidents in such areas. The repeaters will be useful in peacetime as well; for example, when conducting exercises in hard-to-reach areas of the country. They will become indispensable in emergency situations in areas where cellular operators’ infrastructure is missing or damaged. Mobile complexes can be quickly deployed on site, providing communications not only to the response forces, but also to the local population.
Floods or earthquakes, as experience has shown, can seriously affect the private operators’ cell towers. Also, cellular communication may be needed in hard-to-reach and sparsely populated areas, where the installation of towers is not economically profitable. For example, in the mountains, where the difficult terrain requires the installation of a large number of repeaters, but there are practically no subscribers; as well as in a number of northern and taiga regions.
Tests of new communication systems were recently held in the Eastern military district near Khabarovsk. During the exercises, military communicators deployed transmitting and receiving antennas and connected to the networks of one of the major cellular operators.
Military communicators coped with all the assigned tasks – integrated into the network of the federal operator, established a reliable signal relay and organised high-speed data transmission in the field. The exercises confirmed the effectiveness of the new army equipment.
Experience in local wars
In modern local wars, similar networks are often created to coordinate actions outside the cellular coverage area. In particular, there were cases in Syria when ISIS militants (an organisation banned in Russia – Izvestia) drove small towers to the zones and created their own cellular communication and Wi-Fi fields. The first use of the link was used to coordinate the efforts of the troops. In the course of the fighting, the guerrillas kept in touch with each other using regular Internet messengers, transmitting not only text commands and messages, but also photo and video information.
Cellular communication will not become the main channel for the armed forces, but will be used as an additional channel, said Viktor Murakhovsky, editor-in-chief of the magazine “Fatherland’s Arsenal”.
“In the field, satellite and radio-relay communication channels for the army will remain the main ones,” the expert told Izvestia. “But at the same time cellular communication in GSM format allows now transferring a considerable volume of information, and it is necessary to use these capabilities”.
Presently new telecommunication technologies are actively introduced to the troops. Modern automated troop control systems (ATCS) make it possible to receive and process information in the course of combat operations in real time. They are able to take inventory of the balance of resources, fuel, the availability of ammunition and many other indicators of each unit of equipment, the expert said.
Army commanders, with access to documents “of particular importance”, with the stamp “Of Particular Importance” (the highest secrecy classification), began to issue domestic secure mobile phones. Special devices allow access to encrypted military communication lines through civilian cellular networks, including those from abroad.
The military mobile phone can work at temperatures from minus 20 to plus 50 degrees Celsius. They can receive calls after half an hour of being submerged in water to a depth of one metre. Phones are equipped with hardware cryptographic protection of speech information – they have a special block that encrypts the signal. In case of remote activation of the lost mode through the cellular network, the device provides emergency erasing of encryption keys.