By David Oliver
Shown for the first time at Expodefensa, the British company RolaTube has designed and developed a range of innovative lightweight expandable military mast systems using a unique Bi-stable Reeled Composites (BRC). They are manufactured to adhere to the rigourous requirements of the Military Standard 810G, which covers both environmental performance and transportation robustness. The RolaTube single and double communications mast systems are designed to be man portable. A whole range of bulky pipes, tubes and devices can be coiled up, hugely reducing their size and weight. This allows a user to carry a five metres high communications mast as a 20 x 26 cm coil weighing around 5 kg.
In Afghanistan they were used to allow Electronic Countermeasures (ECM) equipment designed to prevent attacks with IEDs to be taken off vehicles and carried by troops on foot for the first time, enabling to deploy them remotely or from and on the vehicle, bringing unrivaled benefits to the dismounted soldier.
In addition to its range of masts and tripods, RolaTube has now introduced a range of Integrated Antenna Masts (IAMs). These unique products integrate antennas into the structure of the BRC mast. This allows quick set up of communications with considerably less weight than a traditional antenna system. The 3.5 meters Squad IAMs packs into a 15 cm roll weighing only 1.6 kg and can be deployed within seconds.
Available in UHF, VHF or dual band frequencies, the 7 meters IAM offers the same ‘plug and play’ lightweight, compact solution to the Squad IAM, intended for longer term as a guyed mast. The whole system weighing 7.6 kg is able to be deployed by two people in five minutes, and packs into a soft bag measuring 28x28x40 cm.
To augment its range of standard mast systems, RolaTube Technology has developed a family of tripods which allows the easy and stable mounting of sensors, cameras and other systems at lower levels, without the need for ground fixings. As with mast systems, tripod systems deliver outstanding performance in terms of packed volume and weight for expeditionary applications. Tripods can be used standalone or in conjunction with 3 meters or 4 meters masts for even greater stability on roof top or external environments.
The RolaTube mast systems are being used by the US Armed Forces and are being trialed by the Royal Marines in Belize.
RolaTube also manufactures a civilian range of mast systems for use within civil defence, disaster relief, emergency services and other non-military sectors.
Photos courtesy RolaTube and by Paolo Valpolini