Electronic Design

NSA Certifies Software-Defined Military Radio

Military battlefield operations require encrypted communication—even at the handheld level. The Falcon III tacticalhandheld transceiver from Harris Corp. uses software-defined radio (SDR) techniques to achieve secure multiband, multiemission operation over a wide frequency range. In fact, the National Security Agency (NSA) has certified it for military use.

Also known as the AN/PRC-152, the Falcon III operates in the military bands from 30 to 512 MHz with 10-Hz tuning resolution (see the figure). Transmission modes include AM, FM, phase-shift keying, and CPM. The output power is variable from 250 mW to 5 W. The data mode operates at 56 kbits/s. Additionally, the radio interoperates with a wide range of other military communications sets and crypto modes.

The Falcon III uses the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) Software Communications Architecture (SCA), which will be the basis for most future military radios. It offers all the capability the military needs to meet urgent operational requirements today while facilitating the transition to the predefined JTRS system radio.

A software download can upgrade the Falcon III to future JTRS specs. A future upgrade will support interoperability with civil authority radios to permit communications during local disasters. Key features include programmable communications security (COMSEC) and the SCA, which permits the addition of future defined modes and waveforms.

Also included, the Harris Sierra-II can be embedded in a variety of voice and data products. The NSA certified this small, reprogrammable, cryptographic device last year. An optional embedded GPS receiver representsa first for handheld radios.

Harris Corp.

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