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Superior SATCOM

Harris expects to complete upgrade of USMC AN/PRC-117G radios with MUOS waveform by May


The news follows the announcement in January that Harris had won a contract worth $75 million to complete upgrade of USMC AN/PRC-117G radios. This contract follows an earlier late-2017 initiative which saw around 1,000 of the US Marine Corps’ (USMC) AN/PRC-117Gs experiencing a similar enhancement.

Covering a waveband of 30MHz to 2GHz , the radio has both narrowband and wideband channels of between 8.33KHz and five megahertz. A smorgasbord of narrowband waveforms are included such as AM/FM (Amplitude Modulation/Frequency Modulation), SINCGARS (Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System), HAVEQUICK-I/III, and SATURN (Second Generation Anti-Jam Tactical UHF Radio for NATO) for ground-to-ground/ground-to-air communications. The radio also has the option of using the APCO-25 waveform routinely employed by first responders in the United States.

This is a particularly useful addition when the military are deployed alongside civilian emergency workers in the wake of manmade or natural disasters. Several wideband and satellite communications (SATCOM) waveforms are available for the AN/PRC-117G. These include the Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW) used by the US Army and USMC manoeuvre force to support troops at the squad level up to the company/battalion levels, plus the ANW2 (Adaptive Networking Wideband Waveform). The ANW2 provides voice and data IP (Internet Protocol) communications. It connects mounted and dismounted troops to their Tactical Operations Centre. The user has the option of adding the receive-only L-band (one gigahertz to two gigahertz) Remotely Operated Video Enhanced Receiver-III real-time imagery and video streaming waveform protocol.


As if this was not enough versatility the AN/PRC-117G carries a number of UHF (300MHz to three gigahertz) SATCOM waveforms. These comprise the HPW (High Performance Waveform) with the option to port the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) and the SATCOM Time Division Multiple Access waveform. With this latest contract, the USMC is upgrading a selection of its AN/PRC-117Gs to use carry the MUOS waveform. A statement supplied to MONch by Harris stated that it expects the upgrade work to be completed this May. Crucially, the addition of the MUOS waveform will allow Marines to perform narrowband communications across the US Navy’s Lockheed Martin MUOS constellation. The MUOS constellation replaces the legacy UFO (UHF Follow-On) US Navy constellation. Compared to its predecessor, the statement continued that the MUOS waveform will meet the Marines’, “requirement for the modernisation of their tactical narrowband SATCOM communications. (It) will provide the Marines with a higher number of users, greater level of on-the-move beyond-line-of-sight communications, improved performance in disadvantaged locations and full network connectivity to the tactical edge.”

According to US Department of Defense documents, MUOS is expected to be used at the battalion and brigade levels. Meanwhile, the HPW can be used for communications across both the MUOS and UFO constellations.


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