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C4iSR: Joint & Common Equipment

Harris boosts security, interoperability for USSOCOM’s future radios

25 June 2018

Harris Corporation will incorporate Suite B security software into the US Special Operations Command’s next-generation software defined radios. (Harris)Harris Corporation will incorporate Suite B security software into the US Special Operations Command’s next-generation software defined radios. (Harris)The US Special Operations Command’s (USSOCOM’s) next-generation software-defined radios (SDRs) will feature Suite B encryption services to enhance interoperability with partner countries, senior company officials at Harris Corporation have revealed.

Christopher Aebli, vice-president of international business for Tactical Communications at Harris, told Jane’s that the company is in the process of integrating Suite B algorithms into USSOCOM’s AN/PRC-163 Next-Generation Handheld (NGHH) radio as well as the Next-Generation Manpack (NGMP), both of which are being developed as part of the Special Operations Force (SOF) Tactical Communications (STC) programme.

The AN/PRC-163 STC is due to enter low-rate initial production (LRIP) towards the end 2018 with Suite A (US Government Type 1) and Suite B capabilities, Aebli confirmed, providing operators with “critical interoperability at the flick of a switch”.

Harris originally announced the launch of the Suite B security capability for its Falcon III AN/PRC-117G multi-band manpack radio on 12 September 2017. However, Aebli told Jane’s that the company will unveil plans to upgrade legacy USSOCOM SDRs such as the AN/PRC-152A handheld and AN/PRC-158 manpack radios last in the year.

“This secure capability allows our NATO partners to use [tactical SDRs] to their fullest extent in battlefield scenarios that require multi-mission capabilities, while still maintaining independent communications capability for their own training and operations,” Chris Young, president of Harris Communication Systems, confirmed.

Suite B encryption, which essentially comprises the AES-256 commercial security algorithm, will also enable customers to securely send secret-level communications across the battlespace, explained Jeff Kroon, tactical programme manager for waveforms at Harris. The company’s Suite B network encryption has also been designed to interoperate with the NATO Standard Nine network encryption, which also comprises Suite B-based protocol.

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