General Dynamics C4 Systems has demonstrated the combined capabilities of the mobile user objective system (MUOS) and its AN/PRC-155 radios to the US Air Force (USAF).

The four-day demonstration successfully connected a USAF C-17 mobility aircraft flying over the Pacific Ocean, with a simulated airlift operations centre at Scott Air Force Base (AFB), in Illinois, US.

During the demonstration, the MUOS-equipped PRC-155 radios located in the aircraft and on the ground enabled USAF observers to talk with the airborne C-17 aircrew, exchange data and monitor the flight status of the aircraft using the MUOS satellite communications system.

General Dynamics C4 Systems president Chris Marzilli said: "The Air Force observers experienced the cellphone-like voice clarity during conversations with the flight crew and realised the powerful new voice and data capability this communications combination represents."

Flying aboard the C-17 airlifter, the PRC-155 two-channel radios consistently sent and received secure voice and data communications, including in-flight position and location information, from the aircraft to the operations centre at Scott AFB.

In addition to this, the manpack radio used a loosely coupled airborne networking suite to route flight-path changes from the command centre directly to the pilot and aircrew, displaying the information on portable cockpit mission displays.

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"The PRC-155 manpack is claimed to be the only radio available to the US Army that connects the MUOS network."

The data from the aircraft’s flight computers travelled securely from the PRC-155 radio, over the MUOS satellite and down to another radio in the operations centre, allowing USAF personnel to watch the aircraft’s flight on their mission tracking/status workstation displays.

The PRC-155 radio is the first to deliver secure voice and data connectivity using the MUOS system from the ground and aboard aircraft in flight in Polar regions.

Manufactured by Lockheed Martin, the MUOS offers smartphone-quality voice communications and more than ten-times the data capacity of the legacy ultra high frequency satellite communications system.

The PRC-155 manpack belongs to GD’s handheld, manpack and small form fit family, and is claimed to be the only radio available to the US Army that connects the MUOS network, while bridging lower tactical tier networks to the ‘big Army’ network that reaches back anywhere in the world.

Defence Technology