Harris combat radios get National Security Agency clearance for MUOS upgrade
WASHINGTON — Harris Corp. said Nov. 1 that the backpack-sized military radios it builds for U.S. troops to carry into combat were recently certified by the National Security Agency to use the higher-throughput capabilities of the Navy’s Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellites.
Having completed testing earlier this year to make the Falcon 3 AN/PRC-117G manpack radio MUOS-compatible via a software patch, Melbourne, Florida-based Harris Corp. anticipates a sizable revenue opportunity upgrading the manpacks to send and receive secure voice, video and data transmissions via the constellation of MUOS satellites that the U.S. began deploying in 2012.
Harris chief executive William Brown said during a Nov. 1 earnings call with investors that Harris began deploying the upgrade as soon as it received NSA certification. He did not say exactly when that happened, but had said in early September that certification was imminent.
Brown said development costs for tapping into the MUOS waveform have already been absorbed, meaning Harris can now attain profits at “a relatively high margin” since the upgrade is done by software.
“There are 30,000 ‘117Gs’ in the field, that have the possibility of being upgraded with the MUOS waveform,” Brown said, adding that the total opportunity “could be just north of $100 million dollars.”
Brown said in September that Harris already had roughly $10 million in backlog waiting to be unlocked through the NSA certification. Harris also has other radios being prepped for use with the MUOS waveform, including the multi-channel AN/PRC-158 manpack, and the two-channel AN/VRC-118 Mid-tier Networking Vehicular Radio.
MUOS is a constellation of five satellites and four ground stations built to enable global military communications in both legacy Ultra-High-Frequency and the new Wideband Code Division Multiple Access system.
The Navy says the new MUOS internet protocol-based communications system provides more than 10 times the bandwidth capacity of the Defense Department’s current UHF constellation.
The fifth satellite, an on-orbit spare, ran into propulsion problems following its late June launch, initially leaving it stranded halfway to its intended orbit. In August, the Air Force said it had sent one of its Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program satellites to check on the stalled MUOS satellite.