German Ministry of Defence to Acquire 370 AN/PRC-117G Encryption Radios from L3 Harris Ltd

On Saturday the German Ministry of Defence ‘Bundesministerium der Verteidigung’ currently led by CDU leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer ordered 370 AN/PRC-117G Encryption Radios from American company, L3 Harris Ltd. The firm is a market leader in high technology communications and missions systems hardware. The order is part of a larger four year contract for a total of 931 encryption radio systems. The AN/PRC-117G system is lightweight and designed to enable encrypted satellite communication, allied and home unit GPS location provision and beyond line of sight functionality. The contract governing the total order will run from 2020 until 2024 and will contain hardware accessories. The contract is part of the German military’s attempts to prepare itself for a leadership role in NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VHRJ) in 2023. The expectation is that an acceptable majority of the units will be delivered by that time. The procurement order will be managed by the German and American organizations responsible for authorizing, both the import and export components of defence contract execution. The German oversight will be provided by the Federal Office for Equipment, Information Technology and Use of the Bundeswehr (BAAINbw). The American end of the acquisition process will be undertaken by the Defence Security and Cooperation Agency (DSCA), whose remit pertains to the extension of US foreign policy through the arming of American allies. The contract’s execution will be achieved through the DSCA’s Foreign Military Sales programme, the contract’s order price is as yet unannounced.

The AN/PRC-117G encrypted radio is a man-portable satellite communication radio device, noted for being 30% smaller and 35% lighter than its rivals. The radio is optimized for co-operative battlefield performance for use with multi-national partners. The AN/PRC-117G’s commercial advantage comes in the form of the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS), powered by Demand Assigned Multiple Access (DAMA) components working in coalition with a Selective Availability Anti-Spoofing Module (SAASM). The MUOS provides antennae-adjustment free satellite communication within a beyond line of sight capability. The DAMA component allow the operation of an at will entry and exit, multiple user satellite access channel. The SAASM element decrypts the GPS signal transmissions of neighbouring friendly units, to produce a complete picture of the immediate battlefield environment. The device is made secure for battlefield communications via encrypting unit to unit vocal messages facilitated through satellite communications, using the interaction between an Advanced Narrowband Digital Voice Terminal (ANDVT) and a Sierra II NSA encryption engine. The ANDVT, provides a FIPS 137 voice encoder to receive incomplete human vocalizations and convert them into artificial vocal data. The copied data, mimicking the waveform of human vocalizations, has a complex algorithm applied on top of it courtesy of the Sierra II engine. The algorithm makes the mimicking vocal data unreadable without a password, securing it against interception save to those equipped with said password. The satellite communication device improves its resistance to enemy interference through being equipped with a capacity to use NATO’s SATURN anti-jam ultra-high frequency waveform.

The AN/PRC-117G satellite communication radios are compliant with 1997’s US Joint Tactical Radio System requirements. Overall the radios provide advanced command and control capabilities, secure satellite communications and the rapid construction of advanced battlefield signals networks. The system has a highly stable frequency at 0.5 parts per million (PPM) producing an near exact matching of broadcast frequency to the desired frequency, leading to almost flawless data replication. The AN/PRC-117G additionally, picks up zero noise generated by its receiver when not in use increasing its tactical utility. The satellite radio is also suitable for difficult conditions being all terrain capable, having been approved for tracked and wheeled vehicles, water immersion up to 1m and possessed of a temperature tolerance of between -40c and +70c. The system’s producer, L3 Harris was founded in 1890 and is currently based in Florida. The corporation employees 48 thousand people across 100 nations achieving 18 billion dollars in total revenue for 2020. The company is headed up by William M. Brown as CEO and is a long-standing partner of the US defence establishment. The company has carved out a particular niche as an pioneer in satellite communications particularly. The order is further confirmation of L3 Harris Ltd, as a preferred defence partner for the furtherance of US foreign policy through defence contracting. The AN/PRC-117G encrypted satellite radios will provide the German military a cutting edge tool to properly execute its VHJR leadership role, a role which Germany must excel at to demonstrate that Germany remains a competent and reliable NATO partner.