Android and the Defence Industry

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Written by
Peter Thomas

Regional Manager

Android and the Defence Industry

The increasingly unstable geopolitical landscape has refocused many minds on Defence and the shift is reflected in the latest numbers. According to the Institute for Economics and Peace, global military expenditure rose by 3.7% in 2021, with 105 countries reporting additional spending on defence budgets. But these headline numbers do not tell the whole story. As in many areas over the past decade, digitalisation is slowly revolutionising Defence.

Today rugged notebooks, tablets and handheld devices have become essential critical infrastructure. Not just in the field of operation but across every aspect of Defence – from training and communications, through to vehicle diagnostics and logistics to intelligence gathering and asset control such as drones. As the technology has become more integral to day-to-day operations, requirements have also evolved and today we are seeing a more rapid adoption of specialist rugged devices using the Android operating system.

So, what’s driving this adoption? There are a number of factors that add up to a powerful force for change.

Traditional consumer devices just don’t make the grade. Even in a support role, the average Defence device is liable to face a lot more knocks and scrapes than the average civilian tool. As well as the critical nature of operation, failure rates are also expensive with an additional 1% increase in failures resulting in a potentially 5% rise in the total cost of ownership of the device. Rugged computing devices certified to the latest MIL-STD-810H standards, capable of operating in extreme temperatures and weather conditions, have become essential specifications. Other specialist features, such as outdoor readable screens and the ability to cut all light and electromagnetic emissions at the touch of a button are important features for the sector.

The Android operating system itself offers the opportunity to customise the device for specific requirements and is robust from a security perspective. Manufacturers, like Panasonic with their TOUGHBOOK devices, are able to easily incorporate tools such as barcode scanners or smartcard readers for specific purposes.

Panasonic has also wrapped additional support services around its Android devices that meet the needs of Defence. For example, Panasonic COMPASS, which stands for Complete Android Services and Security, is a portfolio of digital tools that provide everything needed to configure, deploy, manage and secure a TOUGHBOOK device. This includes Android security patch services, which far surpass the support Google offers Android users as standard – ensuring devices can be used for the long-term.

TOUGHBOOK Smart Essentials is another example of valuable additional benefits available to Defence. It’s real-time enterprise mobility intelligence software that allows IT teams to have a greater level of insight into how the Panasonic devices are used and are performing. These tools can spot, for example, if battery performance is dropping enabling replacements to be sent out before it significantly impacts the user through device performance.

Lastly, the variety of rugged Android devices from notebook, to tablet and handheld, as well as the customisation options, means there is a Panasonic device for every Defence need. One of the latest areas of interest are rugged handheld devices, such as the TOUGHBOOK N1, which can be tailored for easy use of mission critical applications, such as Nett Warrior and ATAK.

The development in rugged mobile computing in Defence continues a pace and it’s clear that Android devices have an important role to play in its future.

Watch the recording of our Defence Solutions Forum from the 28th June 2022

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