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SOF and Army CEWIs to get smaller and lighter DF gear.

SOF and Army CEWIs to Get Smaller and Lighter DF Gear

At a recent AOC chapter meeting, the Army CEWI group at Fort Devens briefed attendees on their role to support Special Operations Forces and displayed the gear that they must carry to and in the field. The assemblage of clothing, food, shelter and electronics equipment that the soldier must jump with from a helicopter or aircraft can weigh over 100 lbs. The shelters and clothing items take advantage of the advances in such lightweight synthetic materials as Goretex and Polypropoline, developed for the commercial sportsmen market. However, the communications intercept and direction finding gear uses older technology.

The challenge posed to the audience by the CEWI commander was to get the size and weight down for this gear. Some developments now underway for commercial and Mil-Spec hardware are attempting to do that.

The Lightweight Manpack Radio DF System (LMRDS) being developed by the ESL Div. of TRW under a contract from the Army's Signals Warfare Center is scheduled to see delivery of first article prototypes this December. The LMRDS has been nomenclatured the AN/PRD-12, and is smaller and lighter than the PRD-10 and -11 gear (developed and produced by Watkins Johnson) now used by CEWI battalions. While originally conceived by its sponsor, the Special Operations Command's 18th Corps, as an ultra-light system for Special Forces with their less ambitious operational needs, the development eventually was expanded to accommodate the needs of other users.

ESL was faced with the tough design problem of producing a combined receiver processor and antenna/mast at a total weight of under 45 lbs, a 30-lb reduction from the previous PRD-10 family of equipment. With the additional requirements of a considerably extended battery life and expanded operational characteristics, the contract represented a considerable engineering challenge. Senior sources at the Signals Warfare Center indicate that they are very satisfied with results they have seen during first article testing. Thus, they have already exercised some production options in the contract; they also plan to exercise some more and negotiate an additional sole-source buy from ESL to bring the total procured in the near term to over 200 units. These figures do not include possible Marine Corps requirements or the development and eventual production units for the USMC/NSA program described below.

It is reported that the PRD-12 with its integrated processor covers the bands from 2 to 1,000 MHz and includes triangulation and networking capabilities. Special Ops users do not want to network since these RF emanations could disclose their presence or location.

A related program, called Top Hunter, recently awarded to Harris of Melbourne, Fl, is a more ambitious effort to develop a manpack (or more precisely, team pack) intercept, DF analysis and communications center for NSA and the Marines. This was an outgrowth of an earlier USMC COMMINT development called Teampack COMMINT. Although the intention is to use the PRD-12 for the DF receiver portion of the system, it is believed that the customers for Top Hunter may procure commercially developed receivers as an interim measure if the PRD-12 is not available in time to integrate into the Harris system. Under the current contract for some 40 systems (which was won in a competition with E-Systems and Magnavox), Harris will provide local area networking, software, tactical computers and a panoramic display.

Other work underway to produce small and light DF and intercept systems is proceeding with little or no government funding. The Rohde & Schwarz Quickfinder manpack DF surveillance system uses a militarized version of its EB-100 receiver (redesignated the MPR-88) integrated with a DF processor/ display and antennas produced by CompuDyne EWI. Weighing 50 lbs, excluding antenna supports and batteries, the Quickfinder system covers 20-1,000 MHz, can automatically scan up to 30 channels in memory and provide DF accuracy better than 4 [degrees]. Reportedly, Rohde & Schwarz will shortly announce the development of its own version of the LMRDS, where both the receiver and processor are housed in a single militarized case.

PHOTO : A member of the Army's CEWI group stands behind the 100-lb manpack he currently is

PHOTO : expected to carry when parachuting into a battle area.

PHOTO : The receiver portion of Rohde & Schwarz's Quickfinder manpack DF system, developed with an

PHOTO : eye toward Army and SOF applications.
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Title Annotation:special operations forces; Combat Electronic Warfare Intelligence; direction finding
Publication:Journal of Electronic Defense
Date:Sep 1, 1989
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