The F/A-22 and F-35‘s advanced built-in radars and electronics can be levered to turn these planes into electronic warfare aircraft. Meanwhile, some of the key trends in military I/O highlight the increasing need for high-bandwidth links. That need is biting with equal or greater force between aircraft, and between aircraft and other platforms, as the increasingly rich array of combat data available finds itself constricted by older protocols and low-bandwidth linkages.
As it turns out, the solution may have been sitting right under their noses.
The AN/PRC-148 MBITR is the hand-held radio for USSOCOM, the most widely fielded multi-band portable radio in the US armed services, and is also in use by many NATO Special Forces. Special Operations Technology has described the 31-ounce PRC-148 multiband inter/intra team radio (MBITR) as “one of the many communications marvels that made the fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq possible” thanks to its small size, software-based structure, and virtually complete interoperability with other military radios and commercial systems. With lithium ion batteries, the user can reportedly expect about 8-10 hours of life. In addition, they note, “More than one Pentagon official has singled out the MBITR for praise during recent operations in Afghanistan.”
Now Thales Communications has received a $43 million order for AN/PRC-148 JTRS Enhanced MBITR, or JEM radios. They may represent the first radios to be fielded for tactical use under the US military’s transformational JTRS program; it’s a close and sometimes confusing race with Harris’ AN/PRC-152(C). DID explains how the PRC-148 became so popular, and offers a glimpse into the development model that made them first out of the gate with a tactically-deployed, (partly) JTRS-compliant product…
On Sept 6, 2006, the US DSCA(Defense Security Cooperation Agency) announced South Korea’s request for continuing support of their RC-800 Tactical Reconnaissance Aircraft, as well as the accompanying Reconnaissance Ground Stations that process and analyze the data gathered. Work will include contractor services, maintenance, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, communication support, prime mission equipment (PME), technical support, contractor engineering, and other related elements of program support. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $200 million.
The US military’s Headquarters Cryptologic Systems Group, San Antonio, TX has issued a pair of cost-plus-fixed fee contracts. They’re buying next generation crypto-modernization compliant encryptor/ decryptors for satellite telemetry, tracking and control in 2 configurations: an embeddable solution and an end cryptographic unit. This is logical, as you want one on the satellites and one on the ground. Solicitations began in March 2006, and work will be complete April 2008.
L-3 Communications Telemetry-West in San Diego, CA received a $9.9 million contract (FA8307-06-C-0009). Note L-3’s recent purchase of TDL, which it may be able to leverage in contracts of this sort.
General Dynamics C4 Systems Inc. received a $9.7 million contract (F8307-06-C-0010).
L-3 Communications has completed the acquisition of British firm TRL Electronics plc. On May 18, 2006, the two firms announced agreement on the terms of a recommended cash offer by L-3 agents Lehman Brothers of GBP 3.60 (US $6.78) in cash per share, which valued the existing issued ordinary share capital at GBP 89.7 million. The acquisition’s completion was announced on July 18, 2006 for a total cash consideration of GBP 95.9 million (approximately US $176.2 million).
TRL offers advanced radio and satellite communications and security systems, Electronic Counter Measures (ECM) that include responsive radio jammers and denial-of-service devices, military grade ATM and IP network cryptography, et. al. of the sort that may prove useful to Project HELIX and similar efforts. L-3’s July 18 release notes that:
L3 Communications Titan Corp. in San Diego, CA received a $17.3 million modification to a fixed-price-incentive-fee contract to add Block III Spiral I Electronic Support AN/MLQ-40(V)4 Capability to AN/MLQ-40(V)3 Prophet Block I Vehicles. Our May 2005 article describes the Prophet land-based signals intercept/ electronic warfare program in detail. L3 Communications Titan Corp. is the prime contractor for the program.
Work on this contract will be performed in San Diego, CA and is expected to be complete by Oct 31, 2007. This was a sole source contract initiated on Aug. 1, 2005 by the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command at Fort Monmouth, NJ is the contracting activity (DAAB07-01-C-L539). See all DID coverage of the Prophet system.
The Washington Times carries a story noting that the US State Department has canceled its installation of about 16,000 personal computers made by Chinese company Lenovo (formerly IBM’s PC division). The State Department had already installed about 900 of the PCs on its secure network in Washington, and at embassies around the world.
The move follows strong objections from the bi-partisan U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. It has significant implications for agencies and companies in the national security sector.
The German Ministry of Defence and the U.S. Department of Defense signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on May 16, 2006 establishing the base conditions for U.S./German cooperation on the RQ-4 Global Hawk-derivative “Euro Hawk” UAV. The government-to-government MoU is cited by EADS and Northrop Grumman as a critical step towards the Euro Hawk risk-reduction contract, which is expected in autumn of 2006.
It appears that Boeing has come to similar conclusions. They’ve just announced plans for a new 737 signals intelligence (SIGINT) aircraft that can be used for airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and also advanced net-centric communications.
Lockheed Martin Corp. Space Systems Co. in Sunnyvale, CA received a $491.2 million cost-plus-award-fee, cost-plus-fixed-fee, firm-fixed-price contract modification. This is a modification of the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite contract to add satellite vehicle #3 (SV3) as envisioned and permitted by a clause in the contract. This action includes the procurement of SV3, and introduces the option for Launch and Operations support.