With special operators deployed across the globe, the need to communicate securely and reliably is of top importance. As adversaries develop technology to degrade signals in already austere conditions, SOCOM is developing ways to harden its radio systems.
Deb Woods, the command's program executive officer for PEO command, control, communications and computers, said success in combat requires that an operator be able to rapidly shoot, move and communicate.
"Assured communications enable the operator to make crucial decisions based on his sight picture of the battlefield derived from real-time enemy or friendly data," she told National Defense in an email. "As net-centric warfare continues to evolve and our operators engage in disparate environments, assured communications becomes vital for success."
The command is currently developing two new radios: a next-generation handheld system and a next-generation multichannel Manpack. Harris Corp. has contracts for both efforts.
"The next-generation radios are being developed as a state-of-the-art, modular and adaptable system, enabling the rapid integration of future technologies as they become available to address assured communications," Woods said.
Both devices will be compliant with software communications architecture standards, which requires the separation of the waveform from the underlying hardware platform.
"This facilitates waveform portability, enabling the integration of emerging and future assured communications waveforms," she said.
In 2016, PEO C4 awarded Harris Corp. a $390 million indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for the next-generation handheld radio, which will upgrade the command's legacy devices from a one-channel to a two-channel system, said Jeff Kroon, director of engineering at Harris' communications systems division.
"That radio is designed to be for the small units... and distributed across the whole team so they have full communications at the [tactical] edge from satellite communications to wideband communications to narrowband," he said earlier this year.
The radios are also equipped with electronic countermeasures such as the ability to avoid jamming, he noted. Additionally, they are simultaneously able to employ a threatwarning capability that can detect enemy radio frequency emissions.
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