U.S. ARMY NETWORKING RADIOS IMPROVE COMMUNICATIONS AT TACTICAL EDGE
By ASA (ALT), Public Affairs
04 Nov 11. As the Army focuses on its number-one priority of modernizing the network, its first networking waveform radio continues to enhance communications at the tactical edge.
Expanding its fielding efforts, Product Manager Network Systems, known as PdM NS, which is assigned to the Army’s Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications-Tactical, or PEO C3T, awarded a $66 million contract to Harris Corporation, Melbourne, Fla. on Sept. 30 for the procurement of eight Brigade Combat Teams worth of AN/PRC-117G radios.
These radios will support the modernization of brigade combat team tactical communications and the LandWarNet/Battle Command G3/5/7 validated requirement to field the AN/PRC-117G radios to eight Infantry BCTs in the first quarter of fiscal year 2013.
“This radio sends critical information to Soldiers when they need it the most,” said Lt. Col. Troy Crosby, product manager for NS, which manages the radios. “It provides the dismounted Soldier with a means to relay information from the battlefield to a command post, in real-time.”
The AN/PRC-117G radios are also playing a key role in the Army’s second Network Integration Evaluation, or NIE 12.1, which runs from Oct. 31 to Nov. 19 at Fort
Bliss, Texas, and White Sands Missile Range, N.M. More than 3,800 Soldiers of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division will participate in NIE 12.1.
In October 2009, PEO C3T first fielded the radios to the 4th Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division in Afghanistan in response to an Operational Needs Statement, which is a process that allows urgent requests from theater for equipment or resources to be identified and rapidly fielded. Since the initial fielding, more than 2,300 AN/PRC-117G radios have been fielded to units in Afghanistan. Today, the radios are helping those units expand communications networks that were previously restricted to fixed sites.
The wireless AN/PRC-117G radio can simultaneously transmit voice and data. It allows troops to exchange large amounts of tactical data, such as video and biometrics. The radio can support small-unit operations and connect the tactical edge with forces at company-level and above.
This commercial, off-the-shelf single-channel radio provides wideband networking capability and interoperability with fielded waveforms. It is also interoperable with legacy radios. It’s 30 percent smaller and 35 percent lighter than currently fielded multiband manpack radios.
“The enemy in Afghanistan might lack the state-of-the art technology that we field, but they adapt their tactics constantly,” Crosby said. “Soldiers in the Army’s lowest tactical formations can pass data and information utilizing the AN/PRC-117G as a flexible tactical network backbone. The tactical network allows timely decisions by leaders at the critical point of an engagement.”
Since every unit has its own unique mission, they employ the radios according to their own needs. The radios are commonly used in command vehicles and for military intelligence, yet they can be used all the way down to the reconnaissance scout. To easily adapt to varying mission requirements, the AN/PRC-117G comes in three configurations — manpack for the Soldier on foot, a vehicular configuration for platforms such as Multipurpose All-Terrain Vehicles, and a configuration for Tactical Operations Centers, or TOCs.
“If a unit is going around kicking in doors, they will use them as manpack,” said Michael Mercurio, fielding and training branch chief for PdM NS. “They can equip everyone in a squad with them, and then go out and talk around buildings nearby.”
The radios are utilized for everything from simple voice communication to
trafficking large data files. Soldiers often hook up their laptops to the radios and use the chat software, while military intelligence can use the AN/PRC-117Gs to pass real-time, full-m