Q&A: What’s in the Latest Military Tech?

Our military needs mobile technology they can trust to provide reliable processing power and battery life in the field, when data access and communication are of the utmost importance. Whether in battle on the front lines, aboard a ship at sea or in an aircraft, the right technology can help make missions more successful for military personnel.

To gather additional insight into Panasonic Connect’s solutions for military and federal government, we spoke with Account Managers Julie McCabe (JM) and Ross Douglas (RD), as well as National Sales Managers Brad Kersavage (BK) and Scott Heckman (SH). Here’s what they had to say:

When the government is looking to procure military grade laptops, what functions and features should they look for?

JM: Definitely modularity. Customers love the option to switch out ports on modular devices like our TOUGHBOOK 55 and TOUGHBOOK 40 to fit into their environment, the system they’re using and whatever comes next. It’s both a cost-saving and productivity-enhancing benefit to not have to replace a new asset for every new or fluid situation. They can just add an xPAK or change out a port and they’re off and running.

RD: Agreed. The ability to configure their device on the go is unprecedented, and reduces downtime in the field – which is especially important in mission-critical situations. 

BK: I would also add a quick-release, removable storage drive to that list. If you have to send a laptop out for repair, you can hold on to the drive and ensure your data remains secure and protected.

Panasonic Connect claims their rugged computers are purpose-built for military use. What does that really mean?

BK: The TOUGHBOOK 55 is a top choice for the military because of its modularity, allowing for upgrades and changes to be made in the field. But it also offers our soldiers an incredibly long battery life of up to 36 hours. What’s more, consumer-grade devices are usually prone to drops, breakage and are hard to see in the direct sunlight, whereas the TOUGHBOOK 55 is built for those scenarios.

RD: The same thing goes for our new TOUGHBOOK 40. It’s even more rugged and customizable than the 55. When our Navy customers are deployed, either in the field or on a ship in the middle of the ocean, they find comfort in knowing that when an issue arises or something needs to be changed, they have the ability to resolve it and reconfigure their device without any special tools or technicians. Being able to upgrade on the go is huge for them.

JM: A lot of what I see in the Air Force is diagnostics, uploading and information transfer via aircraft or ground equipment. Those connections are very different and unique to the vehicle or to the aircraft. We’re able to support that flexibility with multiple port options via the xPAKs that the TOUGHBOOK 55 and TOUGHBOOK 40 offer.

How, specifically, are TOUGHBOOK devices used in military settings?

SH: Robotics and unmanned systems are a growing trend in the military, and Panasonic Connect makes the highest-quality, longest-lasting mobile computers on the market. So when robotics makers are looking for a controller to enhance and power their systems, they disproportionately choose us to do that.

When an unmanned systems provider is offering their robots to the government, they need a controller they can be confident in. The controller on a very expensive robot cannot be the point of failure.

The TOUGHBOOK A3 and TOUGHBOOK G2 tablets provide a bright screen, and a highly compact, high powered processor to control aerial vehicles. On the ground explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) side, those teams generally need a larger form factor such as a TOUGHBOOK 33 to control those robots.

BK: In addition to being used as UAV controllers, TOUGHBOOK rugged devices also act as the point where operators view drone footage and video feeds. So they really need to have enough processing power for that high-end imagery.

The TOUGHBOOK N1 Tactical is ideally suited for those use cases and many more. Featuring a daylight readable display, 20-hour warm swappable battery, and enhanced protection from extreme conditions, the device is purpose-built for improved situational awareness in the field. Its rugged and reliable design enables soldiers and team leaders to stay connected in harsh or loud environments. Additionally, its open and secure Android operating system allows for seamless integration with a range of tactical solutions. Military personnel can use it with ATAK or other SA applications to enhance real-time awareness and action. 

Why does the military need modular, customizable technology?

JM: They can switch out ports, add a battery or media drive to adapt to their environment or the system they’re using; whatever’s next. They don’t have to buy a new machine. They don’t have to replace it. They just have to buy an xPAK, change out a port, and they’re up and going. A lot of what we see is diagnostics and information transfer via aircraft or ground equipment. All those connections are not the same, they’re very unique to the vehicle. We’re able to have that flexibility with the ports and xPAKs that our laptops offer.

RD: The option to have spare xPAKs and accessories on hand is a life saver when you’re deployed. In remote locations, out at sea, or wherever you may find yourself, you don’t want to have to order parts and wait for them to ship to the next port you stop at. Nobody has time for that.

To learn more about our solutions for federal government agencies, visit our TOUGHBOOK Military Technology Solutions page.