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Thales and Harris to Offer Satcom IW Capabilities

Military hand-held ultra-high frequency radios may soon be getting some signal assistance. Thales Communications Inc. and Harris Corp. await certification to put satcom integrated waveform software into their products.

Military communication relies heavily on UHF satellites for secure transmissions, often resulting in signal traffic jams. Satcom IW is designed to replace demand assigned multiple access waveform in granting satellite access.

Easier satellite access aside, the added bonus of the satcom IW is its size. Or rather, lack of. Until now, dismounted units carried a separate satellite radio.

“Now they don’t have to carry that extra 15 or 20 pounds,” said Walt Hepker, vice president of business development at Thales. “Our putting the IW in the hand-held radio is lightening the soldier’s load, and increasing his capability with the equipment he already knows how to use and has on hand.”

When smartphone technology hit the battlefield, pounds and pressure fell dramatically from soldiers shoulders. The embedded software allows for more functions without added hardware.

“It’s like adding new applications to a computer, which is an overused analogy because it is nowhere near that simple to port a waveform onto a joint tactical radio system,” Hepker said.

But port they did. Thales expects to have IW satcom installed on its AN/PRC-148 JTRS enhanced multiband inter/intra team radio by March. Harris will debut added satcom IW capabilities to its Falcon III AN/PRC-152 hand-held radio by summer.

The two companies also expect to upgrade current products already in use. According to Chris Martin, product manager for Harris Corp.’s Falcon III manpack line, the waveform can also be integrated into radios already in the field.

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