As illustrated in a recent press release, Raytheon is tripling the satellite capacity for all AN/ARC-231 airborne radio terminals by a succesfull upgrade to the Integrated Waveform software (IW), following successful field tests hosted by the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA).
New production radios as well as the more than 5,000 currently fielded ARC-231 radios can receive the IW enhancement via a software upgrade that can be implemented in theater. This approach will have minimal impact on the deployed radios and will require minimal operator intervention, thus increasing mission capabilities. The upgrade will provide an increase of several hundred networks for ARC-231 SATCOM users. Additional benefits over the current network are improved link margin, improved voice quality and a simpler setup procedure for ARC-231 operators.
The AN/ARC-231 is an Airborne VHF/UHF/LOS and DAMA SATCOM Communications System.
This system supports U.S. DoD requirements for airborne, multi-band, multi-mission, secure anti-jam voice, data and imagery transmission and provides network-capable communications in a compact radio set. The system is currently used on a wide variety of platforms. Rotary wing platforms include MH-60L/M and UH-60L/M Black Hawks, MH-47E/G and CH-47G Chinooks, UH-1N Hueys, A2C2S Black Hawks, AH-64 Apaches and ARH-70 Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters (ARH). Fixed wing platforms include Airborne Reconnaissance Low-Altitude Multi-Mission –ARLM, USAF Rivet Joint, and USAF Joint-STARS. These platforms, along with a wide variety of additional users, utilize the ARC-231 for VHF/UHF Line-of-Sight Single Channel and SATCOM BLOS for voice and data transmission.
The system is based upon a software definable radio, allowing implementation of upgrades via PC-based software downloads, even while the equipment is installed within the operational platforms. Prior to the last upgrade of the IW software, UHF radio communications had limited capacity, causing communication delays in theater. The present UHF satellite system is in fact reaching the end of its lifecycle, and in order to bridge the gap between the current system and the replacement system, which is the MUOS satellite constellation (Mobile User Objective System), the U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency has worked with Raytheon and other radio vendors in the development and rapid fielding of IW as the UHF SATCOM solution.
"Raytheon offers the IW software upgrade at no cost to ARC-231 users," said David Patton, ARC-231 senior program manager for Raytheon's Network Centric Systems business. "Furthermore, full backward compatibility is provided with this software update to minimize any changes to existing equipment installations. This approach is part of Raytheon's commitment to provide readily available, high-performance, high-quality products to the warfighters."
References: Raytheon (1,2)