Marines Simultaneously Monitor Multiple Networks With New Radio System
by U.S. Marine Corps Matt Gonzales, Systems Command
August 2, 2019
The Marine Corps’ radio systems are getting smaller, lighter and
The Corps plans to employ multichannel radio
systems that enable Marines to simultaneously monitor two radio
networks. The capability will enhance situational awareness and
increase the speed of execution on the battlefield.
The system’s multichannel functionality is the first of
its kind in the Marine Corps.
“The multichannel radios integrate the
capability of two legacy radio systems into a single form factor,”
said Capt. Shawn Avery, project officer for Multichannel Radio
Family of Systems at Marine Corps Systems Command. “Before, we were
able to operate on one radio network at time, but now a Marine can
operate on two radio networks simultaneously—increasing their access
to information and enhancing their overall situational awareness.”
Marines have primarily used the AN/PRC-117G, a portable,
single-channel radio that was fielded in 2011. The AN/PRC-158 ...
version of the multichannel radio ... is a man-packable configuration
that has twice the amount of capability and operates in a larger
radio frequency (RF) spectrum.
April 16, 2019 - U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Shawn Avery, project officer for Multi-channel Radio Family of Systems, displays the
AN/PRC-158 multichannel radio system. The capability allows Marines to simultaneously monitor two networks, increasing their situational awareness and speed of execution. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Joseph Neigh)
“Multiple channels increase
our resiliency,” said Avery. “By being able to leverage different
parts of the RF spectrum simultaneously—whether we’re in a
permissive environment or not—we’ll enhance connectivity in
difficult environments, increase survivability and provide a level
of network interoperability not previously available. These are
factors that contribute to mission accomplishment.”
also plans to field a handheld multichannel radio. Both the handheld
and man-packable systems will be capable of interfacing with a
vehicular integration kit and can be mounted onto any military
vehicle, such as the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.
Multichannel radios lighten the load for warfighter
for the Corps when acquiring new capabilities is to reduce the
amount of weight the warfighter carries. The multichannel radios
will lighten the load for Marines by encompassing two radios in one
system, allowing a unit to haul a multichannel system rather than
two individual radios.
“The multichannel radio is about the
same weight as the system that it is replacing—the AN/PRC-117G,”
said Avery. “However, because it can accomplish the workload of two
radios, this newer system actually decreases the equipment footprint
at the unit level, making us lighter and faster.”
multichannel radio systems comes at an important time. A mandate by
the National Security Agency requires that all radios not compliant
with cryptographic modernization standards be replaced by 2024.
MCSC’s Command Element Systems is tasked with replacing aging radios
with newer, COMSEC-compliant devices in the next five years.
In addition to supporting the warfighter on the battlefield, the
introduction of the multichannel radio system is a significant step
toward meeting the NSA’s mandate.
“We have a roadmap to get
these radios replaced with a more modern capability,” said Lt. Col.
Jeffery Decker, MCSC’s team lead for Ground Radios.
is seeking a Field User Evaluation of the AN/PRC-158 by the fourth
quarter of 2019 and anticipating a procurement decision in 2020. The
capability is slated to be fielded by operating forces before 2021.
“We have a Herculean task in replacing these older systems by
2024,” said Decker. “But this is a great time to be in ground radios
because our mission is clear.”
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