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Telescopic Masts and Tower Systems

Optimizing Optical Surveillance Sensor and Communication System Performance Increased Awareness Supports Better Informed Decisions Trends and Developments Right Mast for the Right Job Continual Improvement Looking Ahead

Sponsored by

Published by Global Business Media



Telescopic Masts and Tower Systems

Optimizing Optical Surveillance Sensor and Communication System Performance Increased Awareness Supports Better Informed Decisions Trends and Developments Right Mast for the Right Job

Contents Foreword


Optimizing Optical Surveillance Sensor and Communication System Performance


John Hancock, Editor

Continual Improvement Looking Ahead

The Will-Burt Company

Sponsored by

Published by Global Business Media

Published by Global Business Media Global Business Media Limited 62 The Street Ashtead Surrey KT21 1AT United Kingdom Switchboard: +44 (0)1737 850 939 Fax: +44 (0)1737 851 952 Email: Website: Publisher Kevin Bell Business Development Director Marie-Anne Brooks Editor John Hancock Senior Project Manager Steve Banks Advertising Executives Michael McCarthy Abigail Coombes Production Manager Paul Davies For further information visit: The opinions and views expressed in the editorial content in this publication are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily represent the views of any organisation with which they may be associated. Material in advertisements and promotional features may be considered to represent the views of the advertisers and promoters. The views and opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily express the views of the Publishers or the Editor. While every care has been taken in the preparation of this publication, neither the Publishers nor the Editor are responsible for such opinions and views or for any inaccuracies in the articles.

© 2012. The entire contents of this publication are protected by copyright. Full details are available from the Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner.

Optimizing Optical Surveillance Sensor Performance Persistent Surveillance & Targeting – On-The-Move Elevated Weapon Systems Maximizing Communications Antenna Performance Mission Critical Solutions Beyond Telescopic Masts – All-Composite Shelters Commitment to Mission Critical Solutions

Increased Awareness Supports Better Informed Decisions


John Hancock

Battlefield Knowledge Still Key to Success Managing Airpower Command and Control System Support and Intelligence Gathering Challenging Terrain Decision Ready

Trends and Developments


Peter Dunwell, Staff Writer

What They Are For Choice of Deployment Methods Making Masts Perform Better Composites

Right Mast for the Right Job


John Hancock

Never a Good Day for Battle Resistant Design Resistant Materials Resilient Availability Think About Where it is Going Testing Circumstances

Continual Improvement


Francis Slade, Defence Correspondent

Differences in Quality Rather than Appearance Better Characteristics Mean Greater Capabilities No Operational Limits Elevated Fire-Power

Looking Ahead

Peter Dunwell, Staff Writer


Changing Times The Right Capabilities A Changing World New Worlds; Old Imperatives




Foreword S

ometimes it’s the least obviously exciting

masts make possible the rapid deployment and

products that hold the greatest potential for

withdrawal of surveillance communication and

improving performance. That is certainly the case

weapons systems in such a way that their range is

with deployable telescopic masts and towers.

optimised while their vulnerability and that of the

In the civilian world these structures deliver

people operating them is minimised.

seamless communication and improved visibility

We’ll look at how these systems have evolved

to a whole range of areas, without intrusive visual

and, as importantly, try to discern how they will

impact. Through their contribution to media such

develop in the future: in particular what immediate

as television, parts of the world that most people

changes might we expect and why? It isn’t just the

may never visit and events that they might never

mechanics or the technology that have improved,

otherwise experience, are brought right into their

it is also the materials and designs with which the

front rooms on their television screens.

equipment is made that have developed in recent

This Special Report opens with a piece that looks

times. Telescopic masts are already in extensive

at the products and technological advances

use by defence forces around the world and we’ll

of The Will-Burt Company, the world’s premier

look at just a few of those applications to see how

manufacturer of telescopic mast and tower

the equipment is integrated to add capability to

elevation solutions for optical surveillance and

wider systems.

communication antenna systems. It goes on to

As is often the case, there is a lot more to

describe a wide range of different products capable

deployable telescopic masts and towers than might

of satisfying virtually every critical payload elevation

at first seem to be the case. Even their hoisting

customer requirement. Models range from light-

can be by several different methods suitable

weight mobile solutions to heavy duty vehicle-

for different purposes and able to add different

mounted models.

capabilities to the system. They may never be a

Telescopic masts and towers are changing the balance of warfare, countering the imbalance

glamorous technology, but telescopic masts will certainly always be an important one.

of asymmetric warfare in which conventional fighting forces are regularly exposed to remotelyor victim-activated threats from fighters in guerrilla campaigns and insurgencies. Telescopic

John Hancock Editor

John Hancock joined as Editor of Defence Reports in early 2012. A journalist for nearly 25 years, John has written and edited articles and papers on a range of defence, engineering and technology topics as well as for key events in the sector. Subjects have included aero-engineering, testing, aviation IT, materials engineering, weapons research, supply chain, logistics and naval engineering.



Optimizing Optical Surveillance Sensor & Communication System Performance The Will-Burt Company

Superior Telescopic Mast and Tower Solutions enable optimum performance of optical surveillance sensor and communications antenna systems. High performance telescopic masts and towers deliver not just elevation but also rigidity for best pointing accuracy and light weight for mobility and versatility of vehicle, trailer and field mounting and deployment. In addition, preeminent masts are rugged for durability in harsh operating environments and even strength for on-the-move operation. Will-Burt offers the broadest array of high performance military masts and towers in the world, delivering unparalleled technology to assure top performance of mission critical payloads.


HE WILL-BURT Company is the world’s premier manufacturer of telescopic mast and tower elevation solutions for optical surveillance and communication antenna systems. The company leads in product offering breadth and performance with the objective to satisfy every customer need for today’s demanding military critical payload elevation requirements. Moreover, Will-Burt continually strives to expand its product offering capabilities through new product technological development and corporate acquisition. Will-Burt introduces in 2012 its newest technological developments, the new VelociRaptor mast and the Stiletto HD Low Deflection. The Stiletto HD Low Deflection is an enhancement to the company’s revolutionary carbon fiber composite Stiletto product line, delivering lower lateral and twist mast deflection. The new VelociRaptor mast utilizes ground-breaking mast technology which enables elevated persistent surveillance and targeting on-the-move. The high performance VelociRaptor is constructed of high strength, lightweight carbon fiber composite materials and employs an innovative new drive system delivering rapid extension and retraction and quiet operation. In addition to its unrivaled on-the-move capabilities, the VelociRaptor’s superior strength enables its capability as an elevated platform for line-of-sight fire by remote weapons on-the-halt.

In addition to its newest technological product offerings, Will-Burt celebrates its first quarter 2012 acquisition of Geroh GmbH of Waischenfeld, Germany. Geroh is the leading manufacturer of telescopic mast and trailer solutions for the military market in Europe. The Geroh acquisition broadens the mast product line that Will-Burt offers customers in its global markets and gives it manufacturing facilities and sales and service capabilities in Europe in addition to the company’s US operations. Furthermore, the Geroh acquisition combines with Will-Burt’s current mast products and its 2010 acquisition of Integrated Tower Solutions of Tulsa, Oklahoma to enable the company to satisfy virtually every critical payload elevation customer need.

Optimizing Optical Surveillance Sensor Performance Minimal deflection is essential in optimizing optical surveillance sensor performance. Delivering the highest stability and rigidity, Will-Burt masts enable sensors to achieve greater image steadiness at greater distance, maximizing overall performance. Will-Burt offers a broad range of masts for surveillance sensor vehicle or trailer mounting, including its high performance Stiletto family of military masts, the new VelociRaptor mast, crank up KVR mast, versatile strong Heavy Duty Pneumatic mast and low profile Cobra mast. Each has different performance capabilities which enable customers to select the proper mast for each individual program requirements. WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 3


Delivering the highest The Stiletto HD Low Deflection, new for 2012, delivers superior mast rigidity with reduced linear and twist deflection from even the high performance Stiletto HD. Stiletto HD Low Deflection will assure the maximum performance for long range surveillance sensor systems. And it delivers all the weight lifting capacity and increased lock safety of the Stiletto HD. Compared to Stiletto HD, the Stiletto HD Low Deflection offers 32% lower linear deflection and 21% lower twist deflection.

stability and rigidity, Will-Burt masts enable sensors to achieve greater image

Geroh KVR The Geroh KVR telescopic crank mast is available for lighter payloads of up to 70 kg. The KVR is very versatile with vehicle, trailer or field mounting options.

steadiness at greater distance, maximizing overall performance.


The revolutionary carbon fiber composite, electro-mechanical mast features the best combination of high strength, low weight and great stability in the industry. With its low nested height and small space claim, Stiletto is the lightweight mobile solution for applications requiring rapid, automatic deployment, maximum reliability and high directional pointing accuracy. The Stiletto, Stiletto HD and Stiletto HD Low Deflection masts offer incremental levels of weight-lifting capacity and deflection minimization across the product line to suit individual program requirements. The Stiletto family offers optional PC operation with height readout and programmable heights. Also available are automated or manual tilt systems for low profile installations. Stiletto is available in 4 meter, 6 meter and 10 meter heights with weight-lifting capacity to 145 kg.

Stiletto HD offers increased payload stability and weight-lifting capacity than the Stiletto and is available in 4 meter, 6 meter and 10 meter heights. Stiletto HD is able to elevate up to 180 kg and delivers 48% lower deflection than Stiletto due to a greater mast tube overlap. 4 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM

Geroh SPM The Geroh Spindle Mast family offers heavy payload weight-lifting capacity while delivering high precision pointing accuracy. Able to lift up to 600 kg, the Spindle Mast is available in heights up to 18 meters.


The Cobra Mast family offers a low nested-toextended height capability, delivering flexibility in mounting and application for multiple vehicle or trailer types. The Cobra Mast is available in models that can lift a 23 kg payload to 3.7 meters from a 30 cm base up to a model that can lift a 600 kg payload up to 7.6 meters from a 90 cm base.



Will-Burt HD Non-Locking Pneumatic Mast The Will-Burt Pneumatic Heavy Duty NonLocking (HDNL) and Super Heavy Duty NonLocking (SHDNL) Masts offer a light weight solution with a high payload lifting capacity. Pneumatic Non-Locking Masts also feature a high pointing accuracy and long mast life for high performance and dependability. The company’s CCTV pneumatic also delivers rapid deployment capability with extension speed at 15 seconds and retraction at 8 seconds.


Persistent Surveillance & Targeting – On-The-Move Will-Burt’s new VelociRaptor mast delivers a unique combination of strength – derived from its carbon fiber composite construction, stiffness, extension/retraction speed, payload lifting capacity, and mast size and weight. These unique features allow persistent surveillance and targeting on-the-move – fully-extended to 6 meters, 100 kg payload at speeds up to 88 km/ hr on improved roads, 56 km/hr on unimproved roads, 40 km/hr on cross-country terrain and 24 km/hr on off-road terrain.


In addition to being exceptionally rugged, the VelociRaptor is also extremely fast, enabling rapid mission execution. The mast extends and retracts in less than 15 seconds. Furthermore, its speed enables persistent surveillance and targeting while avoiding overhead obstacles without slowing or stopping forward motion and also rapid egress from hostile situations The VelociRaptor has high pointing accuracy for superior surveillance and targeting at longdistance – less than 15 cm tip deflection at full extension of 6 meters. In addition, it has broad payload weight capability, elevating heavy payloads up to 300 kg and its small base 45 cm diameter footprint and internal drive allow installation flexibility – exterior or interior installation on wheeled or tracked vehicles. While the VelociRaptor is the premier mast in the world for persistent surveillance and targeting on-the-move with greater payload-lifting and speed capabilities, Will-Burt also delivers onthe-move capabilities in its Stiletto HD and HD Low Deflection masts and the Will-Burt pneumatic mast. The pneumatic mast can be operated at 5.5 meter extension with an 18 kg payload at up to 23 km/hr on improved roads, 16 km/hr on unimproved roads and 7 km/hr on crosscountry terrain. The heavy-duty construction makes these masts inherently safe – the payload sits on a “cushion of air” enabling it to better absorb shocks.

Elevated Weapon Systems The extreme strength of the VelociRaptor mast enables it to be used to deploy Elevated Weapons Systems. Its height enables weapons systems WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 5


Will-Burt telescopic masts and towers deliver the superior platform upon which to elevate communications antennas, maximizing system performance.

to be elevated above uneven terrain and over walls or other obstacles. In addition, its heavy duty construction allows it to withstand weapons system recoil allowing for greater, safer, more flexible deployment and its rigidity allows for accurate line-of-sight fire.

elevated testing and mobile radar applications. When a mast deployment is needed for extended periods, locking collars allow the mast to remain extended indefinitely without air pressure. Vehiclemounted heavy-duty models up to 18 meters do not require guylines. Commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) heavy-duty models are available. Super heavy-duty models feature greater unguyed heights and larger payload capacities.

Maximizing Communications Antenna Performance Will-Burt telescopic masts and towers deliver the superior platform upon which to elevate communications antennas, maximizing system performance. Delivering elevation height capability and high pointing accuracy, WillBurt offers the proper elevation solution for any mobile communication requirement – from telescoping towers offering elevation to 40 meters to lightweight, single-man backpack tripod masts yielding the ultimate in portability.

Will-Burt’s Quick Erecting Antenna Mast (QEAM) is a lightweight, high strength mast that offers a rigid, stable platform for elevating critical payloads. The QEAM may be field, vehicle, or shelter mounted. QEAM models are available in aluminum or in high performance, high strength lightweight carbon fiber composite for elevation to 10 and 15 meters using an internal screw-drive mechanism. For heavier payloads to higher heights, WillBurt’s Strap Drive Quick Erecting Antenna Mast (QEAM) uses an internal strap wound between tube sections for mast elevation. Designed for manual operation, The Strap Drive QEAM has heavier payload lifting capability than the Screw Drive QEAM (80 kg vs. 34 kg) and is available in 21, 25 and 34 meter heights. Geroh KVR/KVL The Geroh telescopic cable drive crank masts deliver stability and reliability. The KVR heavy duty has a payload weight capacity of 70 kg with elevation height to 20 meters. The light duty KVL has a payload weight capacity of 25 kg with height to 12 meters. Either alternative may be vehicle, shelter, trailer or field mounted.


Will-Burt’s Integrated Tower Systems trailermounted lattice towers and pneumatic masts deliver height, stability and a completely integrated communications antenna elevation solution. When situations require higher payload elevation and/or heavier payload capacity, Integrated Tower Systems self-supporting telescopic lattice tower structures deliver the ultimate in performance. ITS towers can elevate payloads from 11 meters to 32 meters standard, and customized to 40 meters, unguyed. Payload weight capacity is 340 kg. Trailer-mounted pneumatic masts can elevate antennas to 30 meters and deliver flexibility of transport with both height and maneuverability. Will-Burt Locking HD Pneumatic Mast Will Burt’s heavy duty locking (HDL) pneumatic masts are ideal for military communications, 6 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM



The Expedition Series is the lightest, most stable, single-man portable mast in the world. Better than aluminum, the Expedition Series tripod and mast are constructed of carbon fiber composite material, making the system light weight, for easy transport and deployment; strong so that won’t bend or break; and stiff for payload stability. In addition, the Expedition series is quick and easy to set-up and retract for fast deployment. The Expedition Series is available in a backpack system for easy transport and elevation of communications antennas to 7.3 meters. It is also available in a two compact transport pack configuration for transport by one or two people allowing elevation to 18.3 meters. Payload capacity of the Expedition Series is 23 kg.

Will-Burt all-composite shelter advantages – • Lower energy cost for transport – up to 40% lower weight, can be stacked 9 high vs. 6 high for metal shelters. • Lower energy cost for heating/cooling – higher thermal R-value. • Lower maintenance cost – corrosion resistant. • Greater strength – Will-Burt’s composite shelter strength per unit density is stronger than aluminum and steel resulting in a superior strength to weight ratio. – • Greater equipment loading – lower shelter weight allows for more equipment to be integrated within the shelter. • Secure operations environment from EMI/HEMP – exceed requirements for Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) and High Electromagnetic Pulse (HEMP) shielding.

Commitment to Mission Critical Solutions Will-Burt is committed to the fulfillment of essential customer needs. Will-Burt will continue to strive to deliver the most technologically advanced telescopic mast and tower, mobile elevation systems that optimize the performance of optical surveillance sensor and communications antenna systems. In addition, the company will continue to pursue innovative technologies, such as its world leading all-composite shelter and container systems, to fulfill its objective to deliver customerdriven Mission Critical Solutions.


Mission Critical Solutions Beyond Telescopic Masts – All-Composite Shelters In addition to its broad array of military telescopic mast and tower solutions, Will-Burt designs, engineers and manufactures the world’s most technologically advanced and patented allcomposite shelters and containers. Will-Burt’s shelter solutions deliver significantly lower lifecycle costs and increased performance over shelters constructed of metal and combination composite/metal materials. Will-Burt’s shelters include patented corner columns, roof, floor and walls. The unique technology meets current industry demands for shelter strength, ease of transport, lower weight, lower maintenance, thermal efficiency and deployment capability in extreme environments, surpassing competition. WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 7


Increased Awareness Supports Better Informed Decisions John Hancock

Telescopic extendable masts and towers improve the range over which military commanders can see

In Afghanistan, UK forces

cameras, digital surveillance, satellite dishes, etc. for users such as the Swedish army, which operates in mountainous and forested conditions. The Swedish Defense Forces LIRKA program, for improved communications, surveillance and targeting, uses telescopic masts and towers mounted on all-terrain vehicles.

have been able to avail themselves of a wider range of secure satellite

Managing Airpower

communications by using telescopic masts for quick establishment of command bases


in the field, to coordinate air support and to communicate between ground units or with base.


Battlefield Knowledge Still Key to Success Knowledge and communication have always been key elements for military campaigns. However, today’s battlefield information needs to be gathered over a much wider area in a range of formats to support not only human decisionmaking but also technology based analysis and prediction. And the best way to increase ‘field of view’ has always been to elevate the intelligence gatherer to a point where the horizon is further off and to cope with difficult terrain, hills, valleys, buildings and trees, any one of which could disrupt sighting or communication. Equally, in a fast moving situation, a mast or tower in a fixed location will be pretty useless as soon as the action has moved beyond its range. For mobility and rapid availability, modern military units use various telescopic masts on all-terrain vehicles. Modern deployable masts and towers of this type can support quite significant payloads…


Sometimes, the mobility and utility of telescopic masts enhances ability to leverage the value of a larger system. In Afghanistan, UK forces have been able to avail themselves of a wider range of secure satellite communications by using telescopic masts for quick establishment of command bases in the field, to co-ordinate air support and to communicate between ground units or with base. Flight Lieutenant Damien Handley, a Joint Tactical Air Controller in Afghanistan explains: “They are vital in the fight against insurgents, particularly to task aircraft in support of our front line troops. In the thick of battle we rely on good communications...”1 UK forces also utilized the flexibility of telescopic masts when establishing temporary operating bases in Italy and Cyprus for the duration of NATO’s Libyan campaign. Special training was needed for this environment and ‘As part of a training exercise 90 Signals Unit (90 SU)] was tasked with setting up voice and data lines in a completely bare field using masts, a satellite dish and extremely specialist vehicle-borne equipment - bearing in mind the needs of, and danger posed to, any aircraft which might be sharing the area.’2

Command and Control US forces also use telescopic masts for communications, reconnaissance and surveillance operations as well as to control UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles). In 2009, Raytheon was tasked by the Defense department to equip combat vehicles with “greater


standoff strategic surveillance and targeting capabilities”3 for which a telescopic mast mounted system was selected. “Raytheon’s Mast-Mounted System leverages investments and lessons learned from past Army modernization efforts to provide safe and responsive under-armor [operated from inside the vehicle], on-the-move reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition capability,” said Glynn Raymer, vice president, Raytheon Network Centric Systems Combat Systems. “Mounted on a five-meter (about 16 feet) telescopic mast, the MMS meets operational requirements…”4 When Sharjah sought a new command and control system for internal security purposes, part of the package chosen included telescopic masts to ensure reliable and robust communications wherever in the Emirate an operation was conducted. Modern telescopic masts allow authorities and military users to rapidly deploy communication capabilities that would previously have required fixed installations.

System Support and Intelligence Gathering In Israel, the new IAI multi-purpose Lahat missile system uses telescopic masts to extend its operational area right into the field of operations and at forward operating bases. According to Ofer Doron of IAI/MBT Missile Systems & Space Group, the Lahat is designed to operate under all weather conditions and could attack any target visible to the electro-optical sensor. IAI carries the Lahat concept further into a new method of fire support by precision laser guided weapons, where 24 Lahat missiles are installed on a vehicular platform, carrying a communications system and electro-optical payloads on a telescopic mast.5 In fact, with the very specific challenges they face, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) makes extensive use of telescopic mast technology. IDF’s latest tactical intelligence collection vehicle has; “full armor protection and concealed telescopic mast, which can be erected rapidly

as the vehicle halts…” and has, “mast mounted multi-sensor payloads comprising a surveillance radar, and day/night electro-optical observation system… to provide a as a hub for tactical intelligence gathering operations”6

Challenging Terrain In neighboring Jordan, the integrated border security system along the country’s northern border with Syria relies heavily on surveillance and communication flexibility and scope derived from… “The mobile systems [which] are mounted on Humvees… integrated with telescoping masts to hang the sensors on.”7 India’s army also faces challenging terrain and a long disputed border. The very large scale of Indian army operational requirements has helped develop strong military supply businesses in the country including companies building vehicle mounted telescopic mast capabilities. Working with indigenous vehicle manufacturers, Kadevi8 supplies telescopic masts and guyed towers to Indian Army HQ, Signals Regiments, and for the Test Range at Chandipore. PEL also supplies telescopic masts to the Indian Army. “PEL masts have been deployed on various vehicles used to demonstrate the Indian Army’s Tactical Communication System (TCS) vehicular node. These masts were mounted on light off-road vehicles and heavy duty vehicles. Custom antenna assembly offering multiple antennae mounting, each with independent manual/ automatic steering in azimuth/elevation was also provided. These masts have been extensively tested for cross country deployment by the Indian Army.”9

Decision Ready Modern warfare is a complex matter with decision times measured in seconds or less: the availability of pneumatic and mechanically elevated telescopic masts on mobile platforms offers commanders in the field a level of information and communication that would have previously required bulky and inflexible fixed-to-ground installations. Telescopic masts and towers are as much a part of battle readiness as any other more glamorous system.



Trends and Developments Peter Dunwell, Staff Writer

As demands on telescopic masts increase, so the technology around them has to develop to cope with ever greater operational challenges

Many developments in telescopic masts have been application-driven inasmuch as they try to improve the performance of masts in particular situations or particular environments.

What They Are For The concept of using telescoping to allow a piece of equipment that must be lengthy in operation, to collapse down to a more easily manageable size for portability and storage, goes back a long way and everybody will be familiar with what a telescope is. A telescopic mast is really only a development of the same concept which, according to the US patents office, “comprises a plurality of mast sections… which can be displaced axially relative to one another while guided by each other.”10 So far so good – that all seems pretty clear; but enter ‘telescopic mast’ into your search engine and the results will cover an enormous range of options available to buyers and users of this equipment. The purpose of telescopic masts has always been to elevate equipment, thus enhancing its operational effectiveness. So, in civilian applications you’ll see telescopic masts and/or towers used to give lighting the widest possible spread while avoiding the intrusive appearance of a fixed mast or tower in a largely residential area. For instance, the lighting masts at Lords cricket ground in London, while extending to the full height for use during matches, telescope down to less than 30 meters when not in use. Telescopic masts may also be deployed on road vehicles to create temporary speed traps and will often be used where out of studio events such as sport and in-field news items need to be transmitted to the world but where there is neither the time nor the reason to build a permanent or semipermanent structure. Similarly in military situations telescopic masts and towers may be used for temporary battlefield communications centers or to support surveillance devices or even to deploy weapons over defensive positions.

Choice of Deployment Methods Many developments in telescopic masts have been application-driven inasmuch as they try to improve the performance of masts in particular situations or particular environments. One area where there is a choice of technologies is in the means by which masts are hoisted. Where the power is available, telescopic masts might 10 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM


be hoisted by hydraulic or pneumatic pressure and this is ideal for short-term communications, surveillance and mobile radar applications. If the mast is needed for a longer period, then a locking model may be appropriate to save having to maintain pneumatic or hydraulic pressure throughout deployment. Screw lifted masts can be deployed mechanically or manually and are easier to lock when in position; a single key will prevent the screw mechanism from unscrewing and, when in use, the mast will have many of the attributes of a fixed installation. Similarly, for any telescopic mast, a full-length external keyway can be used to ensure that the individual sections do not rotate between themselves. And, where sections meet, locking collars can prevent movement at the joints. Rigidity increases the range of payloads that the mast can support and the accuracy with which the payload can operate.


Load demands on modern telescopic masts are increasing. Larger and heavier antennas, require more precise aiming, and have to be erected to greater heights by fewer crewmen.


erected to greater heights by fewer crewmen. This has driven developments in the mechanisms and materials used to deploy masts including more motorized actions and the installation of spiraled cables as integral components within the mast which can easily extend as the mast extends.

Composites A third deployment system, Rigid Chain Technology, uses an internal chain mechanism to hoist the mast but with a specially designed chain that is flexible in one direction, where it needs to elevate the mast, but forms a steel beam in the other direction, where it needs to support the mast. Rigidity is important in a number of telescopic mast applications such as when used as weapons platforms.

Making Masts Perform Better Another development has been the use of tilt systems to enable a collapsed telescopic mast to present a lower profile when not in use by either being laid along the roof of a vehicle or shelter or even folded into a vehicle or shelter. Because many or even most such extendable masts spend a lot of time in open-air conditions and, in some deployments such as at sea, harsh conditions, the military services that use the equipment have established a number of standards including standards of finishing, Military Specification MIL-A-8625 ‘Anodic coatings for aluminum and aluminum alloys’ which sets out a number of performance and acceptance criteria for attributes such as coaching weight, corrosion resistance, light fastness, paint adhesion, abrasion resistance, and dying.11 Other developments have reflected the fact that the load demands on modern telescopic masts are increasing. Larger and heavier antennas, require more precise aiming, and have to be

Perhaps the biggest development has been the application of advanced composite materials to the building of telescopic masts. Many masts are still made in other materials including aluminum which, in tubular form, can be very light and very strong, but is not able to resist ballistic attack. So a vital piece of equipment deployed on a mast in a battlefield might easily be disabled by a single shot that penetrated the outer skin and damaged the mechanism within. Composites are much stronger materials and yet are very light so that masts can be made smaller and therefore less easy to see. Also, composites are the basis of modern ballistic armor. There are many advantages to using composites. They don’t corrode (resistant to chemical attack and ageing) and don’t need cleaning and lubrication (a wipe or brush will usually be sufficient) in the way that metal parts might, and rarely jam during retraction; so that they are better materials for theatre of war and battlefield conditions. In conditions of extreme heat or cold, composites are easier to handle and their strength means that they can carry larger loads and can cope with moving loads, say surveillance cameras or mounted weapons. As much as in the masts themselves, it has been in the materials used in and application of mast capabilities and the platforms on which masts are deployed that have seen most development.



Right Mast for the Right Job John Hancock

Whatever the conditions in which a mast is used, users should always check that the equipment they choose can cope

But it isn’t only wind that

it may still be present during testing weather conditions, while harsh conditions in any other sense will be permanently present.

tests masts. If operating

Resistant Design


We’ve already alluded to avoidance of high winds, but also the design needs to be such that, if deployed in high winds, it won’t suffer enormous deflection or, worse still, breakage. Clearly, flat solid surfaces are the worst for wind resistance which is why masts are circular in cross-section and why towers are often formed of latticework through which wind can pass. And these days masts are even being designed with a more elliptical cross section which, if correctly presented to the wind, doesn’t simply avoid disruption or distortion but can also add to the mast’s overall strength. Low deflection masts deliver superior rigidity and will usually also increase payload capacity. Another thing to consider is the method by which a mast is lifted. A rigid chain system is flexible in one direction but forms a steel beam in the other direction thus being able to winch up the mast but then becoming part of the strength of that same mast.

Never a Good Day for Battle

Resistant Materials

‘Modern defense forces have to operate across the full spectrum of environmental conditions and the equipment they use has to provide them with the capability to communicate no matter what the conditions.’12 All too often, campaigns are fought in harsh conditions, whether that be poor weather, difficult terrain or both. So the ability of their communications and surveillance systems to operate in harsh conditions is very important to ensure that commanders have the widest range of options available. And that is where deployable equipment, such as telescopic masts, comes into play. The first thing is to limit the exposure to especially harsh conditions. ‘Telescopic masts are used… in tactical military networks… needing to withstand high winds only when raised…’13 It is this ability to not need to be exposed at all times to poor conditions that makes telescopic masts more useful but, while exposure may be limited,

But it isn’t only wind that tests masts. If operating either on or near the sea, then the main consideration will be the ability of the mast or tower to resist corrosion from water or salt. This will mean choosing a structure which has been coated and/or constructed in a corrosion resistant material such as a composite. All of the above would be true not only of the mast itself but also of all the fixtures and fixings used to deploy and retain it.

either on or near the sea, then the main consideration will be the ability of the mast or tower to resist corrosion from water or salt.



Resilient Availability And it isn’t only climatic conditions to be considered. If equipment has to be hauled across extreme or arduous terrain, then the user will have to consider the quality and capability of the platform on which the mast is carried: usually an all-terrain type vehicle or trailer. Equally there are even occasions when surveillance and targeting demands mean that masts have to be deployed



levels of waterproofing with the ability to operate efficiently in extreme cold. And, in any conditions, the payload that the mast can carry will be critical in determining functionality as will the levels of care and maintenance required to keep equipment in working order. Overall, ‘People should think about how and where the mast is going to be used when selecting one, as the material may play a role in the functionality of the mast. Important factors to consider are the terrain where the mast will be utilized, possible wind velocity and loading of the antennas on the mast. Other considerations may include the attachments at the bottom of the mast which will determine whether or not it can be bolted to things and how the mast will be supported if it stands independently, and the length of the mast in collapsed form. A telescoping mast can be very heavy, depending on which materials are used to make it.’14


Testing Circumstances and usable while on the move. It is important to ensure that the equipment is built with this use specifically in mind and with the necessary shock absorption and low deflection qualities. On some occasions it may even be the means of deployment itself that tests the durability of equipment; for instance deployment from the rear of a military freight aircraft. The equipment will need to be robust but also the platform on which it is deployed will need to be strong and able as much as possible to absorb shocks without transmitting them to the equipment carried. Ease of deployment is a very important consideration.

Think About Where it is Going If equipment is to be deployed in say desert conditions then it will need to be thoroughly protected against the ingress of sand and dust: while Arctic conditions will require exceptional

Other testing conditions may relate only to the circumstances in which a mast has to be deployed. While not a military application, one more demanding task that masts have had to cope with was the inauguration of President Barack Obama when the main US cell phone carriers had to deploy COWs and COLTS (cells on wheels and cells on light trucks) in order to temporarily boost capacity of their systems. “You drive it where it needs to go, park it, push a couple of buttons, the mast will deploy, the dish will deploy and our generator and satellite ensures we’re fully self-contained and independent,” said Tanya Lin, manager of emergency response team operations for Sprint.”15 The range of applications for which deployable and telescopic masts can be used is extensive. Users must think about what they want the equipment to do and where.



Continual Improvement Francis Slade, Defence Correspondent

Incorporating the latest appropriate technologies as they become available will ensure a better product

There are still circumstances in which guys or pilings are the solution but using modern materials such as composites has greatly increased the engineer’s range of options as to what can be done with a telescopic mast.

Differences in Quality Rather than Appearance In truth, the next generation of telescopic masts and towers may not look a great deal different from the ones in use today. However there will be changes and developments that will improve the performance and utility of the equipment which will almost certainly also increase the range of applications for which they are available. Perhaps one key element in the next generation of masts will be that advances in materials and technologies along with advances in requirements will become selfsustaining, by which I mean that, as capabilities improve, so people will discover more applications where the capabilities of telescopic mast and tower mounted equipment will become apparent. Whereas, once temporary deployable masts and towers may have been fairly limited in what they could do and how they could do it, the use of modern technologies in deployment, materials and structural integrity have made an enormous difference. At one time, in order to maintain vertical integrity and to minimise deflection which might interfere with the task, telescopic masts and towers had to be fairly firmly fixed in position, maybe even using guys and pilings in order to get the best performance. There are still circumstances in which guys or pilings are the solution but using modern materials such as composites has greatly increased the engineer’s range of options as to what can be done with a telescopic mast.

Better Characteristics Mean Greater Capabilities The enhanced rigidity and strength with reduced weight of these new materials, the low deflection rates of the masts that allows and the durability of new designs of mounting, pointing and control equipment, mean that masts can now be deployed from vehicles while on the move and there are already units which can


extend to 6 metres to support surveillance and target capture on the move at speeds up to 55 miles an hour on improved roads: they can even operate off-road, albeit at lower vehicle speeds16. Equally, speed of deployment and retraction are important in any threat situations and so improvements in the speed of hoist motors with the improved surface quality of composite materials to aid rapid deployment and mast tilting systems designed for rapid deployment and retraction will add further to the capabilities of masts. Improved and more sophisticated rotation and pointing devices will enable mast mounted equipment to locate more targets with greater ease and without the need for the platform on which the mast is mounted to have to move or be pointed in a particular direction.

No Operational Limits And the next generation of masts will not be limited to the length of individual telescopic components for the height steps to which they can be erected. The latest equipment can be raised and locked at precisely the desired height for the job in hand. This will make for exceptional degrees of accuracy in areas such as surveillance and ground-to-ground communications links.

Elevated Fire-Power Even more impressively, the new generation of masts is capable of withstanding the recoil of a weapons system so that users will be able to, say, lay down suppressing fire whilst not exposing themselves or their vehicle to retaliatory fire. In fact, the robust qualities of the next generation of masts will make them available for many more military purposes. With companies such as Raytheon17 and BAE Systems18 developing new vehicles in whose design the capabilities of the telescopic mast has been incorporated, the next generation of this type of equipment will really become standard fitting for military applications.


Looking Ahead Peter Dunwell, Staff Writer

Where new technologies will match changing attitudes and global requirements

Changing Times Attitudes towards warfare, especially among the populations of advanced societies, are changing. People are less tolerant of levels of casualties and death that would in previous generations of conflict have seemed very moderate. In short, while nations recognise that they will still have to fight on occasions in order to defend their own society and land, they will find increasing difficulty in accepting the consequences of the resulting conflicts. As a result, a great deal of modern weapons development is about being able to deploy the means for warfare without unnecessarily risking the lives of warriors. We see this in the growing numbers of undermanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with which a ‘pilot’ at a flight console far away can control an unmanned aircraft on another continent. We also see increasing use of robots in handling unexploded bombs and an enormous effort towards the design and construction of military vehicles capable of withstanding attack and blast. This can only be applauded and, into this arena, the deployable telescopic mast, its own capabilities enhanced by the application of new materials and technologies, looks like being a major player in the future.

The Right Capabilities The ability that these masts lend to be able to watch and attack an enemy without the need to expose oneself to any retaliatory fire should make a tremendous difference to casualty rates. As importantly, the capability that these masts have always had for improving the range of the commander’s knowledge on which to base decisions will become even more refined as the masts themselves become more refined and accurate and their payload capacity increases.

A Changing World And it won’t just be in the military sphere that this impact will be felt – the communications

capabilities of telescopic masts, especially when allied with that of communications satellites, will support the rapid improvement of telecommunications on continents such as Africa, where building a full infrastructure will, at least in the immediate future, be too time-consuming and too costly. It is not too grand to say that global development will be a significant beneficiary from the improvement and availability of telescopic masts and towers. Perhaps one area where we may expect to see changes will be in where the masts are developed and made. In the last couple of decades we have seen enormous strides in the engineering capabilities of Far East economies (in the case of Japan make that the last five decades). With India and China having two of the world’s largest if not yet most sophisticated military machines, there is a great deal of engineering catch-up to do and in both cases they have a number of military challenges for which telescopic masts might be the right solutions. However neither country will be keen to be reliant on outside powers for more of its military equipment than is necessary. So we can expect to see new ideas and new capabilities in telescopic masts coming as much from the Far East as from the currently established sources19 20.

New Worlds; Old Imperatives Space exploration, undersea exploration, prospecting for natural resources in difficult conditions; all of these are areas in which telescopic masts will prove valuable. But as is often the case with these things, a lot of the development will still rely on military imperatives in the first place. It seems likely that the military equipment of tomorrow will make a great deal more use of this very adaptable and mission-enhancing equipment to improve the quality and effectiveness of war fighting.



References: 1

MoD News


Defence News






Israeli Military News & Views


Defense Update


Business Library




Precision Electronics Limited


Free Patent Searching



The Defence Suppliers Directory




Telescopic Masts


New York Times January 18, 2009


Will-Burt company




BAE Systems




Precision Electronics Limited


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Special Report – Telescopic Masts and Tower Systems  

Defence Industry – Special Report on Telescopic Masts and Tower Systems

Special Report – Telescopic Masts and Tower Systems  

Defence Industry – Special Report on Telescopic Masts and Tower Systems