Army Pack Radios to get SATCOM Upgrade

Army Pack Radios to get SATCOM Upgrade

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.

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A welcome addon will the head sets be made by General Dynamics too or subcontracted??

“Sarge, Pentagon is on the line..”

I know the PRC-155 is MIL Spec and rather low volume at just 3700 units but is nearly $100,000 per unit reasonable considering the overpriced iPhone 5 sells for about $600? I suppose the dual channel repeater style function adds a lot to the cost but really, $100,000? And $50,000 each for the upgrade? No wonder the Pentagon has budget problems!

Get back to me when I can throw an iPhone 5 out the back of a truck onto 125-degree concrete, then pick it up and send a radio message all the way to a GEO platform.

This is the first batch. Their goal is to probably end up making 100,000 of them.

The iPhone 5 stops functioning once you take away enough cell tower infrastructure.


How useful is SATCOM capability for every single pack radio?

Every single one not so much, but making them all the same has advantages and the SATCOM probably isn’t the expensive part of the radio. Pushing this new network capability is why this radio will be more expensive that the ones it will replace.

So the intention is replacing multiple types of radios, some with SATCOM and some not?

I am lead to believe that the Blackberry cannot be hack? If a Satellite is provided all around the world what a great system it would be for the solder and the budget. Mr. Edward

Probably. There are four main radio types out there. The –119 VHF radio, the –150 HF radio, the –117F VHF/SATCOM radio, and the –117G network radio along with a couple handheld versions. This seems to take the place of most of them. Just about every new armored humvee and MRAP built during the war was built with the –117 family pre-installed. We’ve been using the –119 for 25 years and the others for the last 10 or so. Our comms have always been separated as radio and network that never talked to each other. The new network they’ve been testing at Bliss and this new radio seem to combine them finally. We started this trend in Afghanistan a couple years ago with the –117G radio that was capable of plugging a laptop to it and accessing the internet.

This likely also includes spare parts, warranty support, and field support/training. I’m speculating here, but the same thing happens in the robotics arena; the cost/robot seems outrageous, but the contract usually puts in all the other stuff you need to make a program successful. After looking at those extra items, the cost is only insane, not outrageous.


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