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Mucolex (UA 8451)
Trunk Encryption Device - Wanted item

Mucolex was a Trunk Encryption Device (TED) developed between 1970 and 1977 by Philips Usfa in Eindhoven (Netherlands) for the Dutch Army, who called it Bundel Vercijfer- Ontcijferapparaat. It allowed multiplexed data streams to be sent encrypted over line-of-sight radio links. It is therefore sometimes called a Link Encryptor. It is also known by its Philips Usfa designator UA-8451, Dutch Army designator KY-4651 and as NSN 5810-17-044-3508.
 
The image on the right shows a typical Mucolex unit mounted inside a special rack. The unit in the image is probably an early protype [1], as it differs from the final version (see below).

Mucolex was housed in a ruggedized military-grade die-cast aluminium case, that weighted 22 kg. It allowed a collection of multiplexed external lines, from a variety of sources, both analogue and digital, to be encrypted and sent over a line-of-sight radio link at a maximum speed of 1024 kb/s. Initially it was used with Teletype (telex) equipment and telephone sets.
  
Mucolex mounted in a special rack

Mucolex has had an extremely long life span. The first units were introduced in 1977 and were used for many years on individual line-of-sight radio links. Between 1977 and 1982, approx. 550 Mucolex units were built. Some were still in use in 2005 [2]. When the new ZODIAC tactical communication system was introduced in the mid-1980s, Mucolex was seemlessly integrated with it. A new device, called BVO, was developed as part of ZODIAC. It was compatible with Mucolex and was able to pass its multiplexed data stream to a fully automated switch.

Even after ZODIAC was replaced by the current TITAAN system, Mucolex remained in use for another few years. The ZODIAC BVO units were modified for use with TITAAN and allowed users to connect to a variety of networks, including the internet, via existing 1 Mb/s line-of-sight radio links. In 2005, some Mucolex units were still in use [2].
 
Mucolex unit with cables Mucolex mounted in a special rack Close-up of the control panel Front view of the Mucolex Dismantled Mucolex Typical Mucolex setup Typical Mucolex setup Stack of line interfaces and a Mucolex Font view

 
Development
Development of Mucolex took nearly 7 years: from 1970 to 1977. After the initial functional design, the final version was constructed. Once that was done, the design was hardly changed during the course of the development. Nevertheless, its development faced many setbacks, as there were EMC/TEMPEST problems with it.

After many flaming discussions with RVO-TNO, about the requirements and about the way the tests were conducted, the device was finally approved by SECAN. Between 1977 and 1982, about 550 units were built. They were sold to the Dutch Army, the Dutch Airforce and to Greece [3].
 
In use
The image on the right was taken at the Royal Dutch Signals Museum in 2008. It shows a Mucolex unit mounted in a rack inside a large communications truck, accompanied by a series of line interfaces. More images below.

  About the Royal Dutch Signals Museum
  

 

 
References
  1. Philips Usfa BV, Stock photographs of Mucolex
    Crypto Museum Photo Archive.

  2. Th. Sierksma & A. Bijlsma, Transmissie binnen TITAAN
    Intercom, 2005, Volume 1, p. 41-45. Dutch.

  3. Philips Usfa, Internal Memo L/5636/AvdP/JG
    23 August 1982, page 5.

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Crypto Museum. Last changed: Saturday, 16 July 2011 - 19:03 CET.
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