Melbourne: The Burmese Army has procured radio sets from a Perth-based company by evading Australian Government sanctions in order to scramble its communications.
Barrett Communications has been selling radio sets directly in response to tenders by Burma’s Ministry of Defence, contradicting suggestions by the company it was selling radios to civilian Burmese government agencies, according to a Jane’s Intelligence Review report.
Barrett managing director Phil Bradshaw said the radios were used for general communications, and, were not of a kind “for military use”, after the use of the radios for military communication was first reported in January.
The company told Jane’s that any of the Barrett 2050 radios sold to Burma did not include the frequency-hopping option that makes monitoring all but impossible, and would contravene Australian export controls on sensitive military technology, including signals encryption, in place since 1991, The Age reports.
Bradshaw was quoted as saying the frequency-hopping option could only be installed at the company’s factory by authorised staff.
The Australian Defence Department in Canberra backed this up. “This could not be done in-country [by the customer],” the department told the journal.
But an industry source familiar with Barrett radios has said the processor and software that hops messages across 500 frequencies is built into every Barrett 2050. This and other extra functions could be enabled by input of a random nine or 10-digit code generated by a computer at Barrett’s office and matched to the serial number.
Jane’s reports that the Barrett 2050, costing about 3300 dollar a set, was coming into growing use by the Burmese Army for communications between its headquarters and divisional commands.