Vitavox (a division of Secomak Ltd) has been providing naval and military communications systems, including military-grade loudspeakers, microphones and other sound reproducing equipment to Ministries of Defence for over 80 years.
MOD Defence Contracts Bulletin Editor Matt Brown spoke with John Moore, CEO at Vitavox, about the company’s relationship with the Ministry of Defence and how Vitavox’s communication systems are utilised by the UK’s Armed Forces.
What is Vitavox’s relationship with the Ministry of Defence?
Vitavox has been supplying the MOD with Naval equipment since the 1930s. Previously the contracts were direct, however the model has changed over the last 30 years and more is conducted through the Primes. This has turned into a positive advantage for Vitavox as the Primes have become more aware of our capability and expertise, which has opened up new markets for us, both on land and sea.
How do military communications differ from commercial models?
When at war, the first thing to be monitored and subsequently destroyed will be civil communications of all types. Mobile telephones and social media will not be allowed to operate. Therefore, the military must have their own, autonomous communications systems that will be immune to the jamming activities of the enemy.
The main difference in the equipment itself is that military equipment must be capable of withstanding conditions far more onerous than ordinary domestic systems. There is the vibration of an armoured vehicle, the heat of the hottest desert or the cold of Siberia, the shock of explosions nearby, constant subjection to salt water and dust. As an example, our submarine loudspeakers can withstand the pressure of half a ton per square inch and still then work on the surface.
The threats facing the defence and security sectors are constantly evolving – how is the tactical communications industry keeping pace with this?
Tactical communications equipment is constantly evolving as new capabilities are required by the armed services.
One specific application that Vitavox takes immense pride in is our Outacom® Public-Address System. This is being included on all the AJAX Armoured Fighting Vehicles, currently are being produced by General Dynamics for the British Army.
Our Business Development Manager for Vitavox, who was ex-services, REME, realised that the only way the Commander in an armoured vehicle could communicate with the civilian population was to open the hatch and stick their head out. Not always the safest course of action! Our experience meant we could generate this communication capability and protect the Commander.
Vitavox developed a public-address system based upon our proven naval technology for use on armoured vehicles. This was trialled and demonstrated at the Armoured Defence Trials Unit (ATDU), where it was seen by General Dynamics engineers and military capability specialists. This requirement was subsequently added to the AJAX programme, ultimately leading, through competitive tender, to Vitavox’s successful bid to supply Outacom to all AJAX vehicles.
As Vitavox is to supply its Outacom® technology to the fleet of new AJAX vehicles, did this require any modifications to the kit?
The core of the public-address system was already designed, and a functional system was demonstrated at ATDU. The final system that is being installed on AJAX required many modifications of form, fit and function to meet the exacting standards and requirements of General Dynamics and the British Army. As an SME, one of Vitavox’s key strengths is the ability to react quickly and with intelligence to requests from the Primes. These communication systems require not only an excellent product but also first-class documentation, proven testing and timely project management. Making life as easy as possible for the Primes is a major factor in our extremely successful current relationships.
How do the communication demands of the Type 23 Frigate vary from the Astute class of submarine?
There are specific material (flame toxicity) and shock requirement levels that differentiate submarines from ships, but there are many more similarities than differences.
What does the future hold for military communication technology and where do you see Vitavox in this?
The industry and its requirements are constantly evolving. To be at the forefront and be the provider of the military’s future requirements requires partnership with the Primes. Further full open dialogue with military end users ensures the solution works for personnel in the field.
Vitavox is prepared to enhance and expand both expertise and capability to meet and fulfil the exciting niche opportunities that continue to arise in military communication.
For more information, please visit: www.vitavox-sound.com
image courtesy of Vitavox
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