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New Radio System Enables Marines to Simultaneously Monitor Multiple Networks

New Radio System Enables Marines to Simultaneously Monitor Multiple Networks

The Marine Corps’ radio systems are getting smaller, lighter and more capable.

The Corps plans to employ multichannel radio systems that enable Marines to simultaneously monitor two radio networks. The capability will enhance situational awareness and increase the speed of execution on the battlefield.

The system’s multichannel functionality is the first of its kind in the Marine Corps.

“The multichannel radios integrate the capability of two legacy radio systems into a single form factor,” said Capt. Shawn Avery, project officer for Multichannel Radio Family of Systems at Marine Corps Systems Command. “Before, we were able to operate on one radio network at time, but now a Marine can operate on two radio networks simultaneously—increasing their access to information and enhancing their overall situational awareness.”

Marines have primarily used the AN/PRC-117G, a portable, single-channel radio that was fielded in 2011. The AN/PRC-158—a version of the multichannel radio— is a man-packable configuration that has twice the amount of capability and operates in a larger radio frequency spectrum.

“Multiple channels increase our resiliency,” said Avery. “By being able to leverage different parts of the RF spectrum simultaneously—whether we’re in a permissive environment or not—we’ll enhance connectivity in difficult environments, increase survivability and provide a level of network interoperability not previously available. These are factors that contribute to mission accomplishment.”

The Corps also plans to field a handheld multichannel radio. Both the handheld and man-packable systems will be capable of interfacing with a vehicular integration kit and can be mounted onto any military vehicle, such as the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.

Multichannel radios lighten the load for warfighter

A goal for the Corps when acquiring new capabilities is to reduce the amount of weight the warfighter carries. The multichannel radios will lighten the load for Marines by encompassing two radios in one system, allowing a unit to haul a multichannel system rather than two individual radios.

“The multichannel radio is about the same weight as the system that it is replacing—the AN/PRC-117G,” said Avery. “However, because it can accomplish the workload of two radios, this newer system actually decreases the equipment footprint at the unit level, making us lighter and faster.”

Acquiring multichannel radio systems comes at an important time. A mandate by the National Security Agency requires that all radios not compliant with cryptographic modernization standards be replaced by 2024. MCSC’s Command Element Systems is tasked with replacing aging radios with newer, COMSEC-compliant devices in the next five years.

In addition to supporting the warfighter on the battlefield, the introduction of the multichannel radio system is a significant step toward meeting the NSA’s mandate.

“We have a roadmap to get these radios replaced with a more modern capability,” said Lt. Col. Jeffery Decker, MCSC’s team lead for Ground Radios.

The Corps is seeking a Field User Evaluation of the AN/PRC-158 by the fourth quarter of 2019 and anticipating a procurement decision in 2020. The capability is slated to be fielded by operating forces before 2021.

“We have a Herculean task in replacing these older systems by 2024,” said Decker. “But this is a great time to be in ground radios because our mission is clear.”

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Nick 0311/8531 - April 13, 2020

” Eenie meenie miny mo, can you hear my radio? Fee fi fo fum load and clear with a little hum”as heard one night up on the BS freq. sometome in 68-69 My call sign on the late night BS was “Keystone Farmer”(While at “Liberty Bridge Phu-Loc-6) Nick o311/8531

Steve Logan - April 13, 2020

Naval gunfire teams just prior to late 1964 were still carrying the AN/GRC-9 radio sets. This radio was composed of two parts, a transmitter and a receiver in a case. When tuning the radio required an interpolation of the frequency in order to load the antenna. Also, power was supplied by a hand cranked generator GN-58 when transmitting And a battery for standby power for reception. Man portable by 3 people. I was in Naval Gunfire section HQs.Btry, 2/10, 1962-64; 1/12, 1964-65.

WILLIAM HUBBARTH - April 13, 2020

2531, 73-77.
Reducing the weight? Gee, what a concept!
Humped a 77-ky-38 all over Pendleton, Pahakaloa, Kahoolave, and Kahuku. Chasing after jock second Lieutenants, and also humping the basic field pack and deuce gear.
When we were assigned to Fac teams, I truly loved the Prc-75 for it’s walkie-talkie size. The 47 was a bitch to hump, but great in a jeep.

Ron - April 13, 2020

I humped around with the PRC-25 in Vietnam back in 1967. What a pain. The one thing we would do, is to call in for a radio check. If you would call in with something like, “Florida vacation, radio check, over” we would get something back like “I hear you, 5 by 5” or “I hear you loud and clear”. However, if we would call in, “Florida vacation, FOR a radio check”. Both you and the guy on the other end would switch to another frequency and shoot the s***. You did what you had to do to get through those monsoon rainy nights.

Bill 0331 - April 13, 2020

Hey Cpl Hornsey Did you have to steal that m-16 from an Army guy? My A-gunner never knew from one day to the next if his 16 would work or not. I think he had at least 3 different issue while I knew him. Give me my 60 any day ! Bill 0331 E-2/1 68-69

Cpl J. W. Hornsey Mike 3/1 CUPP RVN 1970 - April 13, 2020

Wish we had that in 1970! I was with Mike 3/1 CUPP. Carried the PRC 25 for 11 months of my tour. We ran 4 man day patrols and 4 man night patrols/ambushes in around the villages we took care of. Carried a 1911 45acp and a General Motors M-16 that was flawless the whole time I had it. That little radio would of been nice.

Mike P - April 13, 2020

As a 2531 Field Radio Operator in a grunt battalion in the late 70’s and early 80’s, we mostly humped the Prick-77, which wasn’t too bad. But if you got put on the FAC team you had to contend with the Prick-47, a monster HF radio and the wet cell batteries for it, each one about the size of a lawnmower battery. 4 Radio Operators on the FAC team, 2 77s, 1 47 and one Prick-75, which was about the size of a CB radio. I couldn’t do that now if I wanted to.

Ed Grantham - April 13, 2020

In 66 when I joined 3/7 my MOS was Field Wireman. After about a week there a Corporal came along, took me to supply, made me turn in my M 14 and get a 45 that was older than me. Next we went to 81’s and the Gunny that was the platoon commander was told that I was his new radio operator. Next came a 10 minute class on a PRC 10. The next day I was off to Kilo to hump the radio for the 81 FO team. After about 5 months of lugging that beast and it’s lousy batteries I was lucky enough to get a PRC 25. Much lighter and the batteries were better as well as smaller and lighter. I would have done most anything to get a radio as small and light weight as today’s.
From what I have heard, the MOS of Field Wireman (2511) no longer exists. Cell phones and other technology has made it obsolete.

Radio Relay - April 13, 2020

I don’t know how Grunt platoons are structured these days, but if they still have radio Humpers, I bet they love that prc-158. My mos was 2831/2532 radio relay repairman/operator. I think it’s called a microwave technician/operator today. My primary radios were stationary, or jeep mounted multi-channel los systems. However, due to high casualty rates of Humpers in Vietnam, in 1969, I was “volunteered ” several times to hump prc-25’s and prc-77’s on combat patrols. It was a challenge for me, to say the least …. God Bless, and Semper Fi

John Gray - April 13, 2020

When I was in Infantry training @ Camp Horne, in 1967, our PRC WAS FROM World War II. I’m very happy to see that the Corps are becoming more modern and not using equipment from the Vietnam era.

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