July 21, 2010

Raytheon Developing Military Smartphone Technology

U.S. soldiers on the front lines might soon have a new weapon in their arsenal, according to a Reuters report stating that defense companies are developing smartphones with military battlefield technology.

In an article dated July 21, writer Golnar Motevalli states that "Raytheon, which makes the Patriot missile defense system, is developing software which could enable a soldier to find enemies in his or her surrounding terrain using a mobile phone running Google's Android operating system"¦ The software could potentially be powerful enough to pick up aerial images from an unmanned aircraft or satellite and then focus in on details such as license plates on cars or a person's facial features."

"We're trying to take advantage of smartphone technology to tailor for what soldiers may need in the field," Mark Bigham, vice president for defense and civil mission solutions at Raytheon, told Reuters on Wednesday. The company thus far has made its software available to Motorola and HTC.

The Raytheon Android Tactical System (RATS), as it is known, would be included on handsets featuring color touchscreens and would allow soldiers to track each other's movement in the field. Furthermore, the phones would feature encryption technology and identity recognition software, and would be GPS-traceable in the event that the phone fell into the wrong hands.

In addition to the U.S. military, India is also believed to be a possible market for the approximately $500 devices. The low price tag provides another selling point, as Forbes magazine reports that some military grade mobile devices can cost upwards of $30,000.

"RATS provides our U.S. military forces with a last mile of connectivity for delivering images and full motion video to our warfighters," Bigham said in a statement posted on the company's official website, dated December 8, 2009. "Utilizing existing technologies provides developers the ability to focus on requirements that our warfighters need now."


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