Talking Tactical Radios and the Evolution in Electronic Warfare with Himera

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Talking Tactical Radios and the Evolution in Electronic Warfare with Himera

The April 15th news of Himera’s groundbreaking radios now being available to the US and global defense community through its partnership with Reticulate Micro has generated significant excitement in defense circles and on social media.

Misha Rudominski, co-founder of Himera, emphasizes that the partnership will accelerate how fast Himera can get products to the clients “who need them most,” while allowing them to leverage the expertise from the global defense market and merge it with what his team has learned in Ukraine to create even better products.

On the eve of SOF Week, Reticulate Micro’s Louis Sutherland, senior director of Business Development and the company’s tactical market lead, sat down with Misha to discuss what the US Special Ops Community can look forward to as the two partners forge ahead to drive more advances into a radio already positioned as game changing for its small form factor, low power consumption and ability to evade detection in the battlefield.

Q. You recently did an online news briefing about your decision to expand globally with Reticulate Micro.

Misha: We were getting a lot of questions from people wondering if we should be exporting defense technology outside of Ukraine during wartime. We went online to let people know that this decision in no way hinders our ability to deploy products to the Ukrainian Defense Forces. Most people understand it’s a good thing to export this technology – it boosts revenue and taxes and allows us to accelerate development of our technology.

Q. What is the larger defense community looking for in a tactical radio?

Louis: From a basic sense, both infantry and Special Operations operators want a voice radio that does ‘dots on a map,’ with a small capacity of data, all at a lower cost than current radios in the US.

Since we began working with Himera, US government customers already are coordinating plans to test the radios starting in June. That’s a good sign Himera is doing something right – given that the US DoD and the Special Ops Community have some of the most advanced technology in the world.

Q. How did the G1 come about and what can the global defense community look forward to in terms of new capabilities?

Misha: We began developing the G1 early on after Russia’s full-scale invasion. The goal in the beginning was to focus on the specific market (Ukraine defense), and that’s how all the decisions were made. We tried to make it as cheap and as efficient as possible. We didn’t worry at the time about how it would integrate with NATO communications. That was outside of our scope. We now have 3,000 of these radios deployed in the Ukrainian Defense Forces.

With the G1 Pro, which we will launch this June, we’re combining the best practices for the global market with our internal know-how and experience. By working with Reticulate, we are taking the best of both worlds and combining them into one solution. It’s a different approach and it will dictate different decisions for the radio. It will make it a more relevant tactical handset for much broader types of users.

Louis: We will prioritize getting our VAST™ video compression encoding technology to Himera for testing and validation. At Shadow Warrior Tech Expo last month, we validated that people liked the product. Adding all that capability in the handheld — dots on a map, voice, Low Probability of Intercept, Low Probability to Detect (LPI/LPD)) at a low cost — were the key US programmatic requirements.

Q. Himera’s G1 radio is very efficient when it comes to battery consumption—will that efficiency can we expect?

Misha: You can expect two days during complex missions and up to four in more conventional usage.

Louis: The handheld battery is internal like a cell phone and charged with USB-C (an industry-standard connector for transmitting both data and power on a single cable) as compared with existing tactical radio batteries that lock onto the radio. Those batteries in moderate use will last an average of about four hours. They are also big and heavy – about half the size of the handheld radio. A member of the Special Operations community shared how they must bring enough batteries to last a mission, which is typically at least 72 hours, which can be an entire backpack of batteries. Having a radio able to operate the full time of the mission is very significant.

Q. Have you had any feedback from early users?

Misha: The main user is the Ukrainian Defense Force; we have very diverse types of users from infantry and territorial defense to Special Operations units, General Directorate of Intelligence units, artillery, Marines, air reconnaissance and so on, as well as our National Guard and Border Guard.
The feedback is that they very much like the size: the Himera handheld radio is light compared to products from US and European manufacturers that are big and overheat.

Another differentiator is how easy it is to use. I believe Himera is the only radio where you set it up through an Android app, which is much easier compared with using a laptop or computer with a dongle. Also, our entire guide is 10 pages long instead of a few 100 pages long. So, the general UI (User Interface) experience and operational setup and training are simple and easy. Our radio also supports diverse operations, from frontlines to Special Operations units that go behind the frontlines.

Q. Reticulate Micro is partnering with Quantropi for post-quantum encryption. Will that be a future add on to Himera?

Louis: It’s on the roadmap to add this year. Users will be able to select between the Quantropi protocol called QEEP™, which is the post-quantum symmetric algorithm, and the current AES 256 protocol. It will make the Himera handheld even more resilient to electronic warfare. When we get post-quantum encryption fully integrated, it’ll provide a very robust key generation for stronger AES support, and for scenarios where you want lighter weight, longer battery life and more security, the QEEP algorithm will deliver those enhancements.

Q. What are you most excited about the partnership going forward?

Misha: Working with Reticulate allows us to get into the international market much faster. Before we built the global business development team or our own connections, we already can be represented at very relevant conferences and participate in demos and tests with the US armed forces and Special Operations. In Ukraine we sell radios at cost price, so we don’t make any margin. Being able to go to the US and international market faster will bring additional revenue that will allow us to invest in product development that will also benefit the Ukrainian Defense Forces and help Ukraine sustain itself.

Louis: People think every soldier has a radio to talk to each other with, but that’s not the case. In the US, we don’t have the money to spend to give everyone a radio. However, it doesn’t mean they’re not talking. Soldiers will use their cell phone, or some cheap handheld that will be unsecure to communicate. This is something we need to get away from at a time when we’re already struggling just to get the basic program of record down to a lower cost. This radio opens the door for that opportunity. This would allow soldiers to communicate and accomplish their mission at a low cost. As a commercial product, Himera radios are the perfect solution.

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