Tempest on the move

Tempest on the move

In the post-Cold War era, electromagnetically shielded Tempest computing and communications equipment took a back seat to other security needs. Now the demands of asymmetric warfare have put Humvee wheels under Tempest products.

Tempest thwarted electronic eavesdroppers in the 1980s by means of leakproof hardware, enclosures and cabling inside well-guarded walls. Today's Tempest users are more likely to encrypt and decrypt satellite messages on rugged notebook PCs inside metallized tents.

At the Government Video Technology Expo yesterday in Washington, SkyStream Networks Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif., and Action Systems of El Paso, Texas, unpacked their mobile Tactical Tempest Command and Control Center.

The modular T2C3 product travels in three shockproof airline carry-on cases that serve as tent furniture when empty. Inside are:

  • Panasonic Toughbook notebook PC

  • 470-watt-hour rechargeable battery

  • LAN switch

  • Satellite edge media router

  • Type II encryption/decryption device

  • Two-way satellite phone

  • Two-way Inmarsat M4 secure terminal

  • Receiver for digital video satellite broadcasts on the Ku or Ka bands

  • Radio-frequency-shielded tent from Bema Inc. of Manassas, Va., with outside support frame.

'Satellites cover the Earth many times over,' said Tom Sauer, Skystream's director of business development. 'T2C3 users can receive signals almost anywhere.'

Most of the several hundred T2C3 units sold so far to military users are small and cost about $100,000 on General Services Administration schedule, said Stephen C. 'Pete' Harvey, president of Action Systems. But the tent configurations can scale up to 12 feet square and connect through shielded foyers, he said, and 'even the biggest will fit on one pallet.'


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