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Link Microtek delivers secure optical mobile local communication systems for Type 26 frigate


According to a press release published by Link Microtek on September 14, 2021, the manufacturer of optical, RF, and microwave products, has successfully delivered the first three ship-sets of its Azdec secure optical MLC (mobile local communications) systems for, installation onto the Royal Navy’s Type 26 frigates, which are due to enter service from the mid-2020s.


Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Artist rendering of Type 26 frigate (Picture source: Pinterest)


Rohde & Schwarz is responsible for the supply and integration of all communications systems onboard the new Type 26 vessels, having been selected for this task by prime contractor BAE Systems.

The Aztec optical MLC system provides naval personnel with totally secure, interference-free voice communications while allowing them to roam away from their base positions, unhindered by any trailing wires. There are no RF emissions, and the optical signals cannot be intercepted by any conventional method, so it is impossible for anyone to jam the transmissions or eavesdrop on what is being said.

This supply completes the systems for installation on HMS Glasgow, HMS Belfast, and HMS Cardiff, together with smaller-scale versions for the land-based integration facility that is being used to test and verify the functionality of the entire Type 26 communications system.

Each vessel will be equipped with two separate 8-channel Aztec systems, comprising a total of two base stations, 31 fixed infrared antennas, 16 binaural headsets, 32 operators’ belt-mounted battery pack/control units, and four battery-charging units. One system will cater for the bridge and bridge wings while the other one serves the operations room; both will be integrated into the ship’s main communications system.

The optical digital encoding technology at the heart of the Aztec system is completely immune to radio, radar, and electrical noise even severe energy pulses and has no effect on sensitive electronic equipment. Furthermore, the Type 26 system is compatible with the use of night-vision goggles and fully satisfies the MoD’s TEMPEST requirements. It also carries a Class 1 product designation as defined by the EN 60825-1 standard, which means it presents no ocular or other health hazards to users.

The Type 26 frigate or City-class frigate is a class of frigate being built for the United Kingdom's Royal Navy, with variants also being built for the Australian and Canadian navies. The program, known as the Global Combat Ship, was launched by the UK Ministry of Defence to partially replace the navy's thirteen Type 23 frigates, and for export. Its primary role is to conduct advanced anti-submarine warfare missions while supporting air defence and general-purpose operations.