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Urgent operational requirements for coalition combat vehicles must embrace EMC considerations

Military vehicles operate in harsh electro-magnetic environments, created by both coalition and enemy forces, and therefore need rigorous EMC (Electro-Magnetic Compatibility) testing. However the amount of time it takes to test a vehicle has to be reduced substantially when rapid field deployment is required. TRaC Global is at the forefront of EMC testing for MoD vehicles and will be presenting a paper on the subject at the DVD (Defence Vehicle Dynamics) 2012 conference.

DVD is one of the most important events in the defence diary for those involved in the equipment, support and management of the UK’s Armed Forces. It will be held this year on June 20 and 21 at the Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire. The theme of the event is ‘Bringing Urgent Operational Requirements (UOR) vehicles back into core’.

UORs are funded by extra Treasury money, supplementing the UK Ministry of Defence’s long term planned equipment programme. As a result, they are able to provide the fast equipment solutions that ever-changing operations demand. One recent example of this is the Jackal patrol vehicle, currently in service in Afghanistan’s Helmand province.

Steve Hayes, director of EMC and safety at TRaC Global, will present a paper on day two of the conference about the company’s MoD EMC testing projects. “Electro-magnetic compatibility is really important to the MoD. If it gets it wrong, the personnel in the vehicles cannot communicate with whoever is around them or back at base,” explained Hayes.

“Military vehicles operate in a harsh electro-magnetic environment because there are so many high powered radio communications signals taking place. One also has to consider radio jamming and the signals from surveillance equipment being used in very close proximity.

“Getting EMC testing perfect on a military vehicle is very time consuming. However, if a vehicle needs to be deployed in Afghanistan in a matter of weeks or months, you don’t have time on your side. Therefore the MoD has to devise a set of tests that will create a high degree of confidence that everything works satisfactorily when the vehicle is shipped to theatre.

“There is a phenomenon called electro-magnetic pulse (EMP), for example when a nuclear device is exploded. Given more time, vehicles can be assessed for those kinds of threats as well. However, that time isn’t available, so that is one testing element that is dropped from UOR vehicles.”

Steve Hayes’s presentation will explore whether additional EMC consideration needs to be given to vehicles operating in countries other than Afghanistan or Iraq.

“Most of the known threats are assessed as part of our testing,” added Hayes. “This includes simulating jamming signals from other coalition forces, where our tanks will be used alongside US tanks, which might transmit on different frequencies at much higher power for example.”

About TRaC: Testing and certification expert TRaC provide qualification consultancy and support throughout the complete life cycle of product development. This streamlined approach to the approval process in test and analysis removes the hidden costs, time and communication barriers of using multiple laboratories.

About Steve Hayes: Steve Hayes CEng, MIET, is a chartered electrical engineer and has been involved in the preparation of standards for IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission), CISPR (the International special committee on radio interference), ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute) and CENELEC (European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization). Steve is the principal UK expert on EMC standardisation for industrial, scientific and medical equipment and convenes this IEC committee. In recent years he has become an expert on CE Marking of military equipment. Steve heads up EMC and safety services for TRaC and sits on the board of TRaC Global.

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