Army Pack Radios to get SATCOM Upgrade

The U.S. Army's Joint Tactical Radio System dismounted radios will soon be upgraded with increased satellite capability.

U.S. Army radio operators will soon have carry radios with 10 times more capacity to handle secure data in remote locations.

The service will start upgrading its new Handheld, Manpack, Small Form Fit (HMS) AN/PRC-155 two-channel Manpack radios this fall to enable them to communicate with the military’s Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite communications system.

The service recently awarded a $5 million contract to General Dynamics C4 Systems for 100 MUOS channel kits to upgrade its 100 PRC-155s.

“By upgrading fielded PRC-155 radios, the Army will greatly enhance soldier effectiveness by providing a tenfold increase in SATCOM capacity for secure, over-the-horizon military communications,” said Chris Marzilli, president of General Dynamics C4 Systems in a recent GD release.  “MUOS access on the two-channel PRC-155 will also allow current Army networks to be bridged and extended far beyond their current reach.”

The MUOS waveform, based on the communications interface found in commercial cellular networks, will deliver high-speed voice and data communications and 10-times greater capacity than the military’s current Ultra High Frequency satellite communications system, GD officials maintain.  With a smartphone-like flow of information, the upgraded PRC-155 radios will allow soldiers to access the MUOS communications system wherever they are deployed, on foot or from land vehicles, ships, submarines and aircraft.

Last year, the Army recently awarded GDC4S and Rockwell Collins with a $306 million contract for 3,726 PRC-155 Manpack radios.  The PRC-155 radios is part of the Joint Tactical Radio System and included in Army’s Capability Set 13 networking and communications gear deploying with brigade combat teams.

The two-channel PRC-155 Manpack radio runs on the Soldier Radio Waveform that connects dismounted soldiers to the network and the Wideband Networking Waveform that transports large amounts of data and the legacy SINCGARS waveform for communication with existing radios. 

Using the PRC-155’s two-channel capability, soldiers operating on any one of these waveforms on one channel, can interconnect with soldiers using another waveform on the second channel.  With the MUOS capability in the PRC-155, a network of soldiers can be interconnected with others in a far distant location, GD officials maintain.