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USMC eyes tactical radio ‘mission modules'

A legacy AN/PRC-117G Adaptive Networking Wideband Waveform aboard an MV-22 Osprey at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona. (US Marine Corps)

The US Marine Corps (USMC) is exploring options for building in a mission module capability into the service's fleet of tactical radios, as a way to accelerate waveform integration as part of an ongoing massive tactical radio upgrade effort.

“What we are looking at is adapting to different waveforms through the process of using mission modules,” said Bill Drew, project officer for multichannel radio family of systems at Marine Corps Systems Command (MARCORSYSCOM).

“We really haven't pursued that [officially] yet, only because we have so many other capabilities out there”, which could be folded into the tactical radio upgrade initiative, Drew said during a 30 January interview with Janes .

“From a hardware standpoint, there are mission modules that are compatible and used with the AN/PRC-163 … and we're just looking at other possibilities, to give this radio as many capabilities as [we] can,” Drew said.

The L3Harris' AN/PRC-163 handheld tactical radio was the platform selected as the basis for the massive technology upgrade initiative for the USMC's tactical radio arsenal.

The main driver of the upgrade effort was to get the USMC's tactical radios compliant with National Security Agency (NSA) Type 1 encryption standards, according to Drew. With the AN/PRC-163, which is compliant with NSA Type 1 standards, the marine corps will have “the level of security that [they] need for [their] marines to maintain operational and situational awareness on the battlefield”, Drew said.

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