For those reporting in with Bluetooth headsets equipped and smartphones displaying the Cellular Outfitter blog, you will be pleased to hear about a followup on the US government’s military phone ‘wars.’
Uncle Sam wants your smartphone technology optimized for military use and has been attempting to do so with its Nett Warrior program. Those entitled to establishing a secured wireless, warzone network were having difficulty getting the government to approve funding and protocol for use of technology like Nett Warrior. Overseers of the program finally decided to base their NW EUD (Net Warrior End-User Device) off of the Android operating system, noting its open-source functionality as especially handy for the modern warrior.
Now the military phone wars are between the government’s own Nett Warrior program and up-and-coming defense contractor developments, such as ITT‘s GhostRider. ”The GhostRider isn’t really a phone — it’s just hosted on a commercial Android smartphone, in this case a Motorola Atrix — it’s a small encryption device, called a crypto, installed on a phone near the battery. Put it together with the smartphone of your choice and it’s a secure phone — exactly what the Army wants to one day issue its soldiers, and is still figuring out how to do,” as reported by Wired.
ITT unveiled GhostRider at the annual Association of the US Army convention in Washington D.C., not too long after the Army showed off its latest version of Nett Warrior. GhostRider’s crypto device brings secure phone calls and messaging to the military phone experience, using the Army’s secured data networks on or off the warzone. It allows a tap-and-hold feature that immediately turns the display to red, engaging the GhostRider security features. Another soldier equipped with GhostRider can receive your secured messages, only after typing in a password to receive and decipher the encrypted code, for example.
However, GhostRider’s functionality is nearly the same as the military phone setup provided by the NW EUD. As opposed to GhostRider’s crypto device being used on any smartphone, the NW EUD does not use a smartphone, instead using an ‘end-user device’ running off of the Android operating system. In addition to GhostRider’s functionality, the NW EUD has the ability to call in a medevac or allow advanced planning ”so a company commander can send changes to a plan to his platoon and squad leaders,” says Wired. ”The one thing Nett Warrior can’t do is make a phone call.”
Besides weighing features that defense contractors such as ITT bring to the development of a modern US military phone, the US Army suffers from a sizable decline in the defense budget, as the government looks to reduce its own budget deficit. ITT’s GhostRider costs an upwards of $1,500 per unit — something the Army is concerned about due to tight wallets. While civilians get to enjoy the price benefits of wholesale cell phones, the government’s search for a perfect, cost-effective military phone continues.