L3Harris to integrate HF and VHF radios for SATCOM-denied environments aboard special forces helicopters

Dec. 14, 2021
The AN/PRC-160(V) wideband radio meets NSA crypto-modernization standards, and offers a software-defined architecture that enables encryption updates.

MacDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – Radio communications experts at U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., needed HF manpack radios for MH-47 and MH-60 helicopters. They found their solution from the L3Harris Technologies Inc. Communications Systems segment in Rochester, N.Y.

Special Operations Command (SOCOM) officials announced a $45.8 million contract to L3Harris last week to integrate the AN/PRC-160 high frequency manpack radio aboard the MH-47 and MH-60 helicopters. AN/PRC-160(V) wideband HF/VHF radio delivers resilient communications in SATCOM-denied environments.

This wideband system also meets U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) crypto-modernization standards, and offers a software-defined architecture that enables encryption updates to safeguard mission-critical information.

The AN/PRC-160(V) offers data speeds are as much as 10 times faster than existing HF radios, and features software-programmable L3Harris Sierra II encryption, providing secure NSA Type 1 interoperability among U.S. and allied forces.

Related: Air Force eyes secure networking for shared situational awareness in SATCOM-denied environments

The wideband system is small and lightweight, increases battery performance, and helps reduce warfighter battle load and fatigue.

The radio supports top secret and below voice and data wideband data rates as fast as 120 kilobits per second. It also is compatible with Harris AN/PRC-150(C) power amplifiers, antenna couplers, vehicular mounts, and accessories.

This SWaP-optimized manpack delivers continuous coverage from 1.5 to 60 MHz on one battery while providing 20 Watts of HF and 10 Watts of VHF power. With its high-speed wideband waveform, the AN/PRC-160(V) transmits data in bandwidths from 3 kHz to 24 kHz.

Related: Resilient positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) technology aids military search and rescue

The Boeing MH-47 Chinook is an American twin-engined, tandem rotor, heavy-lift helicopter that is among the heaviest lifting of Western helicopters. The Sikorsky MH-60 is a special operations variant of the standard UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter that has defensive countermeasures such as infrared and radar jammers and decoy launchers, along with a multi-mode radar and infrared sensor.

The special forces MH-47 and MH-60 helicopters are for the U.S. Army's 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, also known as Task Force 160 and the Night Stalkers. These helicopters are designed to survive in hostile airspace while inserting and extracting special forces.

On this contract L3Harris will do the work in Rochester, N.Y. For more information contact L3Harris online at www.l3harris.com, or U.S. Special Operations Command at www.socom.mil.

About the Author

John Keller | Editor-in-Chief

John Keller is the Editor-in-Chief, Military & Aerospace Electronics Magazine--provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronics and optoelectronic technologies in military, space and commercial aviation applications. John has been a member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since 1989 and chief editor since 1995.

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