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Written by Peter Thomas, vertical strategy manager for Public Sector at Panasonic Mobile Solutions Business Division

Android and the Defence Industry

The increasingly unstable geopolitical situation has led many to focus on defence, as reflected in recent figures. According to the Institute for Economics and Peace, global military spending increased by 3.7% in 2021, with 105 countries reporting additional defence budget spending. But these headlines do not tell the whole story. As in many other areas over the past decade, digitalisation is slowly revolutionising defence.

Rugged laptops, tablets and handheld devices have now become vital critical infrastructure. Not just in the field, but in all areas of defence - from training and communications to vehicle diagnostics and logistics, to reconnaissance and control of objects such as drones. As the technology has become more integrated into daily operations, the requirements have also evolved, and we are now seeing faster adoption of dedicated rugged devices that use the Android operating system.

What is the reason for this acceptance? There are several factors that add up to a powerful force of change.

Traditional consumer devices are simply out of date. Even as a backup device, the average defence device is likely to be exposed to far more bumps and scratches than the average civilian device. Aside from the critical nature of the mission, failure rates are also costly, with a further 1% increase in failures leading to a potential 5% increase in the total cost of ownership of the device. Rugged computers, certified to the latest MIL-STD-810H standards and capable of operating in extreme temperatures and weather conditions, have become an important feature. Other special features such as outdoor readable screens and the ability to turn off all light and electromagnetic emissions at the touch of a button are important to the industry.

The Android operating system itself offers the ability to customise the device to specific requirements and is robust in terms of security. Manufacturers, such as Panasonic with its TOUGHBOOK devices, are able to incorporate tools such as barcode scanners or smartcard readers for specific purposes.

Panasonic has also developed additional support services for its Android devices to meet the needs of the defence sector. Panasonic COMPASS, short 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 that go far beyond the support that Google offers Android users as standard - so that the devices can be used for a long time.

TOUGHBOOK Smart Essentials is another example of the valuable additional services available to the MoD. This is real-time enterprise mobility intelligence software that enables IT teams to gain greater insight into the usage and performance of Panasonic devices. For example, these tools can detect if battery performance is declining so that a replacement can be made before it has a significant impact on the device's performance.

The variety of rugged Android devices, from laptops to tablets to notebooks, and the customisation options mean that there is a Panasonic device for every defence need. One of the latest areas of interest is rugged handheld devices such as the TOUGHBOOK N1, which can be customised to facilitate the use of mission-critical applications such as Nett Warrior and ATAK.

The development of defence rugged mobile computing is progressing rapidly and Android devices will play an important role in this future.

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