Marine Corps Searching for New Battlefield Communication System

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A satellite communication operator with the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response Central Command 19.1, adjusts a ground antenna transmit and receiver satellite transformer during an exercise on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Sept. 11, 2018. (U.S. Marine Corps/Cpl. Jeremy Laboy)
A satellite communication operator with the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response Central Command 19.1, adjusts a ground antenna transmit and receiver satellite transformer during an exercise on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Sept. 11, 2018. (U.S. Marine Corps/Cpl. Jeremy Laboy)

Marine Corps Systems Command wants to know whether defense companies can build it a new communications system capable of transmitting large amounts of voice, video and data on the battlefield.

The command put out a request for information March 5 to find a complete line-of-sight optical communication transmission system that doesn't require further development, according to a recent Marine Corps news release.

"The adage 'move, shoot, communicate' hasn't changed, but how we communicate is rapidly changing," said Maj. Eric Holmes, MCSC project officer, in the release. "Given the rapid pace of innovation in technology, the Marine Corps is currently evaluating maturing capabilities."

The new system must be capable of providing a "high-bandwidth transmission path used for voice, video and data communications," the release states.

The Corps could field up to 638 of the new systems, according to the solicitation on the government contracting website FedBizOpps. Industry responses are due by 1 p.m. March 19.

"The Marine Corps is turning to industry to help rapidly develop and field this technology," Holmes said.

The Marines have taken other steps to improve battlefield communications with the recent adoption of the Mobile User Objective System, or MUOS, a narrowband satellite communication system that uses commercial cell phone technology to increase access to voice and data communication, according to a release the Marine Corps sent out last June.

MUOS is designed for highly mobile units that need higher data rates, and it offers a more secure and reliable beyond line-of-sight communication capability, the release states.

The Marine Corps will be the first service to widely deploy the system since it has fielded thousands of MUOS-capable AN/PRC-117G radios over the past six years, according to the release.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

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