Soldier Radio Waveform Narrowband Waveform on Horizon
Sources close to the US Army tactical communications community have shared with MONS the force’s thinking regarding the evolution of its Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW) which is designed to be used at the lowest tactical echelon primarily for voice and data communications, will limited capabilities to handle wider bandwidth traffic such as imagery.
The SRW is to equip all of the transceivers which the US Army is acquiring as part of its Handheld, Manpack, Small Form Factor (HMS) tactical radio requirement. Several companies are providing transceivers as part of this acquisition including Thales which is supplying its AN/PRC-154/A Ultra High Frequency (UHF: 225 megahertz/MHz to 450MHz) and L-band (1.250 gigahertz/GHz to 1.390GHz, and 1.750GHz to 1.850GHz) handheld radio which carries the SRW. Harris is providing its RF-330E-TR Falcon (225MHz to two gigahertz) handheld radio which will also carry the SRW, plus the Rockwell Collins AN/PRC-155 multiband manpack radio which will carry several waveforms including SRW, SINCGARS (see below) and MUOS (Mobile User Objective System); the latter of which is used for satellite communications. All of these radios are being procured for testing as part of the low rate initial production segment of the HMS initiative.
US Army sources continued that the force is considering an enhanced version of the SRW to equip these, and potentially future tactical radios to be acquired via the Full Rate Production (FRP) element of the HMS programme. This enhancement of the UHF SRW, known as the narrowband SRW initiative, is expected to take 36 months and should be completed by 2020 under the auspices of the US Army’s Communications, Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Centre. Crucially, the narrowband SRW initiative is expected to improve the overall resilience of the SRW; an important consideration in light of intensive communications jamming activity which open sources have documented as being used by Russian forces during that country’s involvement in the Ukrainian Civil War. The sources continued that the US Army is considering an enhancement of its existing Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System (SINCGARS) 30MHz to 87.975MHz which remains in extensive use, predominantly for voice communications, throughout the armed forces of the US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. No timelines have been set regarding when this upgrade could take place, although its necessity is being seen through the same prism of improved resilience to hostile jamming.
Dr. Thomas Withington