Pocket-size Automatic Crypto Equipment
- wanted item
PACE is a small, pocket-sized, hand-held terminal for
off-line encryption and decryption of messages, developed
by Lehmkuhl in Norway (now: Kongsberg) in the early 1980s.
It features a 16 character LCD screen, a 4000 character
memory buffer and is fully approved by NATO.
PACE is also known as the MI-300 Cryptographic Field Terminal
by NFT Crypto from Oslo (Norway) .
The device allows secure messages to be sent over standard unprotected
telephone lines and voice radio channels.
It is suitable for both desktop and field use, is battery-powered
and can be connected to a personal computer.
It provides full error-detection and correction
and is approved by NATO
for all classification levels, including NATO COSMIC TOP SECRET.
PACE is interoperable with the ASCOM-mode of
the RACE (KL-51) cipher machine by
The image on the right shows a typical PACE device as it was shown
on the Kongsberg website .
The device is housed in a water-resistant aluminium case, has a full
QWERTY keyboard and a 16-character LCD screen.
The built-in memory can hold up to 3800 characters of either plain text
or encrypted text.
The unit has built-in acoustic and optical modems, allowing messages
to be transferred via virtually any medium, such as phone, radio, mail
or messenger service.
Full error correction is built-in allowing error rates of up to 10%
and burst errors up to 37 consecutive bits.
A key variable consists of 30 characters, including the key identifier
and the check character at the end. More than 1036 keys can
be used and each key produces a key stream with a period of 1023
bits. The encrypted output of the PACE consists of the 26 letters of the
alphabet, arranged five-letter groups .
Over the years, more than 20,000 PACE devices were sold to many NATO
and non-NATO countries, making PACE one of the most widely used
message devices in the world .
The specifications below were taken from the Kongsberg website .
PACE has multiple functions for:
- Encryption of free text
- MERCS application
- Recognition and Identification
The PACE message terminal was initially developed by Lehmkuhl in Oslo (Norway)
and was known as the Lehmcoder Mini. The product may also have been sold by
other suppliers as an OEM product. The latest supplier is Kongsberg.
The following names are known for this product:
- Lehmcoder Mini (Lehmkuhl, Oslo, Norway)
- MI-300 (NFT Crypto A/S, Oslo, Norway)
- PACE (Kongsberg)
The following accessories were available for PACE:
- Tempest Field Printer
- RS232 serial interface
- Radio Adapters
- Modes: 7 different operational modes
- Modem: FSK, 2025/2225Hz (Bell 103)
- Memory: 2 stores, dynamically divided, 3500 characters total
- Crypto: Two NATO-approved algorithms
- Device: Unclassified, CCI
- Security: All classifications
- Key variables: Storage space for 9 keys
- Key setting: Physical (manually) or via electronic transfer
- TEMPEST: AMSG 720B-approved
PACE was developed by Lehmkuhl Elektronikk in Oslo (Norway) in the late 1970s
for the Royal Norwegian Army and was first known as Lehmcoder Mini
The design was based on the earlier Omnicoder that was developed by Cato
Seeberg, an officer in the Norwegian Navy, and produced by Lehmkuhl in the
early 1970s .
PACE was one of the first microprocessor-based encryptors and the
cryptographic algorithms were implemented entirely in software.
20,000 units were built.
Lehmkuhl was first acquired acquired by Elektrisk Bureau AS (LME)
and then by Thales, who sold the product off to Kongsberg Defence
Although Kongsberg has stopped supplying PACE devices
in 2007, many of them are still in use today (2012).
- Jane's Military Communications, Lehmcoder Mini Cryptographic Terminal
Seventh edition, 1986. p. 520.
- NATO Information Assurance, PACE (MERCS) (CCI)
Brief description of PACE. Retrieved June 2012.
- Kongsberg Defence Communications AS, PACE, Pocket-size Automatic Crypto Equipment
Information retrieved from Kongsberg website 11 March 2006.
Removed from the website in 2006 or 2007.
- Norwegian National Security Authority (NSM), Årsmelding 2008
NSM Annual Report 2008 (Norwegian).
Noen kryptosuksesser. p. 15.
- Janes Military Communications, MI 300 Cryptographic Field Terminal
ISBN 0-7106-1163-3. Fifteenth Edition, 1994-1995. p. 532.
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