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US Army In Afghanistan Uses Columbia Tech Company's Radio System

US Army soldiers in Afghanistan are using specialized radio equipment made by a Columbia defense technology company. Syntonics LLC recently signed the $10.5 million contract with the military to provide equipment and servicing that enables and enhances radio communications.
The current contract follows an earlier deal with the US Army for the same equipment, its Radio over Fiber system that relays radio frequency signals over optical fiber. In 2010, Syntonics signed a $7-million contract with the US Army for the system to be deployed in Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom.
The US Army Contracting Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, is the contractor, under a Small Business Innovation Research contract. The US Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare System Command funded development of key technologies for the system.
In Afghanistan, tethered aerostats, aka blimps, are connected to command posts. The tethers have power and optical fibers. Cameras are attached to the aerostats for wide-area observation. The Syntonics system is attached to the aerostats via special equipment, enabling it to become an antenna site and allowing for secure radio communication with the command post and multiple radios on the ground.
Besides the military, Bruce G. Montgomery, Syntonics president, says the system is used by civilian agencies that have tactical communications, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
This year, too, Syntonics expanded its market for another product, a distributed antenna system, from the military to a commercial customer. Its distributed antenna system allows you to put antennas in places that radio signals could not otherwise penetrate.
The system is already being used by US Marines and Army Special Op troops. In November, Syntonics signed a contract for the system with the operator of nuclear power plants, whom Montgomery declined to identify.
The antenna system uses MEMS technology that the company is developing with the University Of Maryland, College Park's A. James Clark School Of Engineering. In August, the Maryland Industrial Partnerships awarded Syntonics more than $140,000 for further research on the technology.
Founded in 2000, Syntonics was originally located in the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship, of the Howard County Economic Development Authority.
In 2002, it moved to a commercial building in Columbia, where it has since quadrupled the size of its office, from 3,000 square feet to 13,000 square feet. It began commercializing its products in 2005.
The company has 30 employees, with the founding employees owning the company in a closely held arrangement.
Source: Bruce G. Montgomery, Syntonics LLC
Writer: Barbara Pash
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