Navy’s Digital Modular Radio Gets Software Boost

By Valerie Insinna

General Dynamics Mission Systems’ digital modular radio has been deployed on Navy ships for more than 10 years. With no replacement to the system in sight, the service has focused on upgrading the radios with modern capabilities.

One new feature unveiled this January is “high frequency dynamic routing,” which increases the number of channels on the radio from four to eight, said James Crowe, the company’s technical lead. This change is software-based, meaning that the radio itself can only support four people talking at a time. However, adding the extra four “virtual channels” increases the radio’s capacity and allows the Navy to prioritize the most important communications taking place.

“Certain frequencies have higher priorities, so if a lower priority channel is on, they would get bumped to allow the captain of the ship to take over communications from one of the junior officers,” he said.

Another new software update boosts the number of available channels to 16 when operating in high frequency line-of-sight or ultra high frequency, Crowe said.

“We’re also in the initial stages of looking at putting a couple other advanced waveforms on there,” he said. “We haven’t gotten the RFP [request for proposals] for this yet, but there’s a possibility of the Saturn waveform to come onto the system.” Saturn is a standard waveform for NATO communications equipment.

Integration of the Mobile User Objective System waveform is also underway. This will allow the radios to connect to the Navy’s new MUOS satellites, which will provide global coverage and similar connection speeds as commercial cell phones.

Photo Credit: General Dynamics

Topics: C4ISR, Tactical Communications

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