Navy adds $29M worth of radios for global satellite system

This article has been updated to reflect that the MUOS constellation will eventually have five satellites, not four as originally reported.

The Navy has launched three of five planned satellites for its new high-powered global communications system. Now it’s making sure its surface ships and submarines all have the radios to make use of it.

The service has ordered 56 more AN/USC-61(C) Digital Modular Radios, valued at $29 million, from General Dynamics for use with the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) waveform, according to an announcement from the company.

MUOS is the Navy’s next-generation satellite communications system. It’s based on a direct-sequence spread spectrum Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) waveform, and transmits signals at 16 times the rate of the current Ultra High Frequency satellite system. The first MUOS satellites, which are made by Lockheed Martin, were launched in 2012 and 2013, with the third going into orbit in January this year, giving the system coverage of about three-quarters of the globe. The fourth MUOS satellite is expected to be launched later this year and give the system near-global coverage. MUOS-5, a WCDMA spare with additional legacy system capability, is expected to launch in 2016.

The narrowband system provides secure, high-speed, IP-based voice, video and mission data. General Dynamics has supplied the Navy with DMRs for years, having delivered 550 of them since 1998. But the radios have undergone steady upgrades. Earlier this year, for instance, the company upgraded the four-channel software-defined devices to operate as eight virtual channels, giving users expanded capacity. The radios can communicate with Ultra-High Frequency SATCOM, Single-Channel Ground and Airborne Radio Systems (SINCGARS), Line of Sight and High Frequency radios on at sea and on land.

“MUOS is an excellent example of an advanced capability that will provide smartphone-like connectivity among military personnel working in some of the toughest, most remote environments,” Mike DiBiase, vice president and general manager of C4IRS Technologies for General Dynamics Mission Systems, said in the announcement.

The latest order for the radios is the fifth option the Navy has exercised in a contract originally awarded in 2010.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.

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