L3Harris Capabilities Put To The Test At Northern Edge
Conducted in mid-May 2019, Northern Edge (NE19) was a joint-training exercise in Alaska aimed at assessing advanced equipment and future operations. This large-scale exercise put battle plans into real-world motion, sharpening tactical combat skills, refining processes and pressure-testing existing and new technologies.
NE19 involved some 10,000 Airmen, Marines and Sailors from units including U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, U.S. Pacific Air Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Marine Corps Forces Pacific, Air Combat Command, Air Mobility Command, Air Force Materiel Command, U.S. 3rd Fleet, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve and U.S. Naval Reserve.
In addition to a massive number of participants, NE19 included five U.S. Navy ships and approximately 250 aircraft from all services which completed more than 1,400 sorties in the two-week long exercise.
At NE19, the U.S. Marine Corps had well-defined objectives using a variety of communications technology and waveforms to support Beyond Line-Of-Sight (BLOS) fires missions. These exercises within the exercise used a PACE methodology (Primary, Alternate, Contingency, and Emergency) with different combinations of technology to accomplish the BLOS fires mission.
L3Harris Technologies was well-represented at Northern Edge, with the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) and SATURN waveform-equipped L3Harris AN/PRC-117G playing major supporting roles in the BLOS fires mission activities.
The MUOS capability encompasses updated firmware to the AN/PRC-117G radio system and one of three antenna kits. The antennas help Marines simultaneously access SATCOM networks and gives them secure and non-secure Internet access. MUOS also improves overall reliability in urban environments, challenging vegetation and other arduous conditions.
Primary network communications were used by the Marines to prosecute targets and extend critical C2 and fires capabilities Beyond Line-of-Sight while on the move. This was done by using the MUOS waveform from the man-portable AN/PRC-117G radios employed on the ground and aboard joint assault support aircraft. The U.S. Marine Corps is in the process of rolling out MUOS in the AN/PRC-117G radios for starters and the use of this highly versatile waveform at NE19 further validated the broad-ranging benefits of MUOS.
When jamming was introduced to the BLOS fires mission exercise, the alternate communications pivot was to use HF through the L3Harris AN/PRC-160 radios to provide necessary data connectivity by essentially “pinging” the endpoints.
Another technology/waveform combination that was put to the test at NE19 was the AN/PRC-117G equipped with the SATURN fast hopping air-to-ground waveform. The AN/PRC-117G radios were used to communicate with F-16s using HAVEQUICK 2. When jamming was inserted to the exercise, the SATURN waveform proved its ability and resiliency in a contested battlespace.
“Northern Edge was a true test of L3Harris tactical communications technologies in about as real-world a battlefield environment as is possible to establish in an exercise,” said Maj. Gen. (USA, Ret.) Jeff Smith, Vice President of Global Business Development, L3Harris Technologies. “The validation of the L3Harris radios using the MUOS and SATURN waveforms is the result of years of collaboration with MCSC that has culminated in the roll-out of MUOS to every AN/PRC-117G in the Marine Corps. We are immensely proud of that milestone and are working hard to streamline these valuable capability upgrades.”
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