How a unique comms combination
is pushing boundaries on the battlefield

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Best-in-class RA4000 high noise headset will soon be available in this new helmet liner configuration. Photo © INVISIO.

Best-in-class RA4000 high noise headset will soon be available in this new helmet liner configuration. Photo © INVISIO.

Successful battlefield operations rely on a vast range of equipment and technologies, finely tuned for the operational task at hand. For soldiers in the field, best-in-class headsets are key, along with top-performing intercom systems. By combining the two to create a fully integrated comms set-up that works seamlessly, soldiers can benefit from unrivaled communication and situational awareness - providing operational advantage and increased use cases for both mounted and dismounted soldiers. Quality communication, flexibility and ease of use are all vital but so is the ability to deploy these systems quickly and cost-effectively, as well as to re-deploy them using legacy equipment.

Such a combination by INVISIO's two brands - INVISIO and Racal Acoustics - is being used to create a unique comms solution. INVISIO acquired Racal Acoustics in 2021, a world-leading supplier of systems for communication and hearing protection in vehicles. Now, the combination of INVISIO's Intercom System with Racal Acoustics' RA4000 Advanced Hearing Protection Headset is being used to offer a range of advantages to those in the field - either vehicle-mounted or dismounted - effectively answering the ever-changing demands of users in the field. Here's how:-

A unique package

The RA4000 advanced digital headset delivers hearing protection, communication intelligibility and situational awareness, addressing the broad range of risks and issues faced by soldiers in the field. The RA4000 is best-in-class when it comes to hearing protection, offering Active Noise Reduction (ANR) SNR 36dB, but also offers binaural talk-through for accurate situation awareness and high intelligibility binaural or monaural communications in high-noise environments, allowing for more effective communications and a reduction in any physical or cognitive burden. An extra layer of benefit comes through the RA4000's compatibility with other equipment including helmets, body armor and weapons.

On top of this, the unique combination of the RA4000 headset with INVISIO's Intercom system - creates additional uses for mounted soldiers in heavy armored vehicles as well as lighter vehicles and dismounted troops. INVISIO's intercom system is both scalable and adaptable, and makes use of digitalization to enable monitoring and integrating multiple communications devices, to separate groups from each other and to focus on specific channels. The INVISIO IntelliCable® technology allows the system to automatically detect and distinguish between connected communication devices and connected users. Such technology allows it to flex between vehicle platforms and to work with existing or legacy intercom systems. Up to five users and four radios can connect to the system, but those numbers can be expanded to even larger groups by daisy-chaining several intercom devices together. In addition, INVISIO's software solutions allow for customisation of the system.

A combination that can adapt

The benefits of the RA4000 headset are many and well documented. Its active noise reduction (ANR) allows it to achieve noise attenuation levels of 36dB SNR, protecting hearing for soldiers operating in mounted environments - often in heavy vehicles whose noise impact can cause permanent hearing damage when endured for prolonged mission times. In addition, the headset allows the user to enable talk-through to hear local environment sounds at safe levels (<85dBA), ensuring they can maintain situational awareness of hazards or permit face-to-face conversations without defeating hearing protection. The focus on clear communication is not only vital for mission effectiveness, but also the potential difference between life and death in certain settings, where communications could otherwise be compromised.

The benefit of combining the RA4000 headset with INVISIO's Intercom system allows the potential to switch from a mounted environment to a dismounted position - ensuring soldiers maintain the same level of situational awareness in both settings, and allowing for tailored comms regardless of the environment. While in some systems, headsets and intercoms may be fixed to vehicles, this provides a non hard-installed solution and allows for more flexibility when it comes to soldiers dismounting. Both the RA4000 + INVISIO Intercom system are MIL SPEC 810G compliant, and the combination of the two also allows the capability of tailoring of profiles, whether from vehicle to vehicle or vehicle to dismounting, giving users flexibility and easy maneuvering between different vehicles, systems, and scenarios. For example, the combination would allow a soldier to easily switch from being connected to a heavy armoured vehicle's communication system to requiring direct face-to-face communication in the field, or while dismounted - maintaining the same level of hearing protection situation awareness and communication (if carrying a personal radio) - even when disconnected from the INVISIO intercom system.

Rapid deployment and redeployment

The INVISIO Intercom's size, weight and portable nature has already made it the equipment of choice for armed forces around the world. At just 563 grams, measuring 150 x 95 x 27mm and easily carried in a backpack, it is easily deployable and user-friendly for dismounted soldiers. On top of this, it is easily deployable - and redeployable - in mounted situations, including legacy vehicles in need of new, integral comms systems. Such needs are often time sensitive, and the combination of the RA4000 headset and INVISIO's intercom system provides an alternative to lengthy installations of a new intercom system in addition to the already-established advantages of the INVISIO intercom thanks to its size, weight and flexibility.

The ability to install the INVISIO Intercom system in legacy vehicles and integrate it with the Racal headset system creates an immediate solution, removing any reliance on long lead manufacturing and reducing lead times to deployment. INVISIO's software solutions offer increased agility, allowing fast and efficient switching between settings, vehicles and users to ensure maximum efficiency when it comes to comms - an element that is arguably more important than ever in the battlefields of today. The ability to re-programme systems and settings removes the need for additional technology and cabling, saving on both time and equipment.

Such advantages mean the combination of the RA4000 headset and INVISIO's intercom system aren't just rapidly deployable but rapidly 're-deployable' from vehicle to vehicle - another key advantage in an ever-evolving space when it comes to global combat.

Facilitating better soldiering

The importance of clear communications and hearing protection in the battlefield cannot be overemphasized, on an individual soldier level as well as a wider mission-critical impact. Prolonged exposure to significant noise levels, especially for mounted soldiers in heavy armored vehicles, can cause hearing loss and have a catastrophic effect on individuals. For example, noise levels in an M113 armored personnel carrier can read 125dBA, with UK government figures suggesting that crew and passengers on such vehicles would exceed dangerous noise exposure limits within minutes. The use of hearing protection is therefore absolutely necessary and while not necessarily regulatory in some nations, is likely to move that way in the near future.

Operationally, the provision of high-quality comms systems allows for a more operable force. Without effective comms systems, alongside hearing protection, mounted soldiers traveling in noisy, heavy armored vehicles can easily become not only physically affected, but also disorientated and ultimately less effective in the field. Using a combination of a state-of-the-art headset like the RA4000 and INVISIO's intercom system reduces the effect of prolonged noise, and allows for effective communications both on and off the vehicle. In addition, ANR contributes to a longer mission profile - how long troops on the ground can drive, dismount, then continue moving. A reduction in the cognitive burden of noise on them, especially while in vehicles, means they can operate for longer, contributing to the tactical value of each mission. Essentially, the provision of a combined system of headset and intercom - providing hearing protection, clear communication, and situational awareness - contributes to a more effective fighting force, clearer mission control and the achievement of tactical objectives.

The whole package

Enthusiastically describing something as “greater than the sum of its parts” is not unusual and while sometimes merited, is often not. But the differentiating factors offered by the unique combination of Racal's RA4000 headset with INVISIO's Intercom system allow them to offer even more layers of tactical advantage when it comes to comms in the field - both for mounted and dismounted soldiers. Their industry-leading technology, both in hearing protection and situational awareness, makes them the individual elements of choice for armed forces and other defense-related applications across the world. But it is their combination - bringing the ability to rapidly deploy and redeploy such systems, including in developing territories and areas and situations where legacy platforms are being utilized, that makes them invaluable in the fast-moving world of warfare today, offering quick, easy, and scalable comms systems that can prove vital in an array of situations and applications. And for INVISIO, this game-changing combination is just another step forward in working to expand on the comms capabilities it delivers across all kinds of platforms and situations.

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