Army Taps Raytheon to Build Enhanced Radios for Black Hawks, Apaches

Guardsmen with the 207th Engineer Utilities Detachment, with UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter transportation support from 1st Battalion, 207th Aviation Regiment, participate in Arctic skills training in Snowhawk Valley near Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, on Feb. 9, 2019. The Army has contracted with Raytheon Co. to supply new aviation radios. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Michael Risinger)
Guardsmen with the 207th Engineer Utilities Detachment, with UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter transportation support from 1st Battalion, 207th Aviation Regiment, participate in Arctic skills training in Snowhawk Valley near Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, on Feb. 9, 2019. The Army has contracted with Raytheon Co. to supply new aviation radios. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Michael Risinger)

The U.S. Army recently awarded Raytheon Co. a $406 million contract to supply the service with aviation radios over the next five years.

Raytheon will manufacture up to 5,000 ARC-231A radio systems that will be installed on the Army's existing helicopter platforms, according to a Feb. 14 company press release.

The ARC-231A meets the Pentagon's 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," according to the Raytheon website.

ARC-231A are "software-defined" so they can be rapidly updated without requiring the radio to be removed from the aircraft, the release states.

The latest version of the system recently gained National Security Agency Type 1 certification and delivers secure, classified communications on the battlefield, according to the release.

"These radios are the backbone of rotary-wing communications," said Barbara Borgonovi, vice president of Raytheon Integrated Communication Systems, in a statement. "The ARC-231A enables U.S. forces to maintain the edge in secure communications, whether they're flying in contested or congested environments."

The radios will be installed on a variety of Army helicopters, including the UH-60 Black Hawk, UH-72 Lakota utility helicopter and the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter, the release states.

The ARC-231A radio features continuous full power transmission at high temperatures and altitudes, and excellent receiver performance across all frequency bands, Raytheon's website states.

The system also offers robust receiver processing to "overcome radio frequency signal distortion and fading" associated with satellite communications downlink signal reception through turning rotors, according to the website.

"Voice communications is significantly enhanced with the incorporation of the Mixed Excitation Linear Predictive (MELP) vocoder," it states. "This mode improves communications capabilities in noisy environments over narrowband channels."

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

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