Peru Puts High Frequency Radio Equipment to the Test

For the second time, Peru stands out as the only Latin American country to take part in a global high frequency radio exercise.
Gonzalo Silva Infante/Diálogo | 10 January 2018

Capacity Building

From the Army Telematics Center in San Borja, Lima, the Army team operator PER ALFA 1 establishes contact with a Tadiran HF-8000 high frequency radio. (Photo: Peruvian Army Colonel Fidel Mandujano Bonilla for the Joint Command of the Armed Forces of Peru)

At the end of 2017, Peru participated in an annual international high frequency radio communications exercise sponsored by the Canadian Armed Forces. The two-day Noble Skywave exercise, EX NS 17, comprised 85 teams from the armed forces of eight countries.

In addition to the armed forces of Peru and Canada, the exercise included military personnel from Australia, Germany, Italy, Scotland, England, and the United States—all participated from their home countries. With the second highest number of participants, Peru joined the exercise with 121 members of its Army (EP, in Spanish), Navy (MGP, in Spanish), and Air Force (FAP, in Spanish). Canada participated with the highest number of troops.

Peruvian service members formed eight teams located in different bases across the country. For instance, the MGP deployed teams in Piura, Mollendo, and Callao “to achieve better performance,” explained EP Colonel Fidel Mandujano Bonilla, head of joint communications at the Command and Control Division of the Armed Forces Joint Chiefs of Staff. Col. Mandujano coordinated the exercise on the Peruvian end and was responsible for training the eight teams.

In its second consecutive participation, Peru greatly surpassed its previous result. Following the experience, the Joint Command of the Armed Forces of Peru not only aspires to collaborate in the 2018 edition of the exercise, but also conduct similar trainings at the local level.

“I am pleased to have accomplished this. It was very important to live this with them [Peruvian service members] and let them know the need to attain the best possible spot, and burnish the reputation of our homeland,” Col. Mandujano said. “Our proposal for 2018 is to conduct a nationwide pilot program to support COEN [National Emergency Operations Center] during natural disasters.”

Improving capacities

EX NS 17 is a training exercise among partner nations based on a communications competition involving the use of high frequency radios. The Communications & Electronics Branch, the 8th Air Communications and Control Squadron (8 ACCS), and the School of Communications and Electronics of the Canadian Armed Forces conduct the exercise, which contributes to strengthening capacities related to radios, antennas, and high frequency transmission.

“We seek to create a fun and interactive exercise that facilitates voice and data links between national and international teams through the transmission of high frequency sky-waves,” 8 ACCS Captain Natasha Dargan told Diálogo. “This type of exercise is carried out to maintain skills in a challenging communications environment, but [is] of great importance.”

Peruvian Army Chief Warrant Officer Two Alexander Sánchez reviews military personnel documents from the PER ALPHA 2 Army team at the Army Communications School in Chorrillos District, Lima. (Photo: Colonel Fidel Mandujano Bonilla for the Joint Command of the Armed Forces of Peru)

Today, the most widely used means of communication is via satellite. High frequency radio operations are difficult and essential skills. Additionally, armed forces around the world use the high frequency system as a backup in case of damage to satellite equipment, which could happen during a natural disaster.

“Our country is located in a seismically active area, and we experience natural disasters,” Col. Mandujano said. “Therefore, our Armed Forces must be prepared to use high frequency radios in the event of a dropout of our main platforms of communication such as satellite, Internet, and telephone. This helps us keep up with training, and what better way than with first-rate institutions.”

Competition

The exercise's main objective consisted of monitoring several frequencies while trying to make contact with the various teams using different forms of high frequency radiophonic transmission. The teams scored points for operating the equipment and establishing contact.

The exercise was conducted in three phases. In the first phase, personnel was assigned, competition rules distributed, and the Network Control Station—the operating station responsible for controlling radio traffic—was established at CFB Kingston Base in Ontario, Canada. The second and third phases consisted of the competition, and the presentation of prizes and certificates of participation.

“These are timed tests. The exercise lasts two days, 48 consecutive hours. Operators need to know English because the exercises are conducted in that language,” Col. Mandujano explained. “Under that premise, FAP had the best performance [of the Peruvian teams].”

Of the 85 teams that participated, a U.S. team won first place. The most outstanding Peruvian teams were a FAP team (OA0FAP) and an MGP team (BRAVO 2), which won 24th and 27th place, respectively.

The exercise was also a reminder of the importance of high frequency radio communication for service members. “Its use is necessary, because without so much sophistication, it will always connect two people from a distance,” Col. Mandujano concluded. “This is a means of communication that will always be used, and it will always be part of the training in the three branches of the armed forces.”

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