The Fully Loaded MRAP II

You typically don’t associate the Space and Naval Warfare System Command with armored vehicles, but it turns out the command’s Space and Naval Systems Center in Charleston, S.C., plays a key role (page 46) in the final assembly of vehicles designed to protect troops in Iraq against Improvised Explosive Devices.

SPAWAR installs all the command control gear for the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles at the Charleston facility, according to Steve Davis, a command spokesman. Davis declined for security reasons to provide me with any details on C2 equipment used in the current generation of MRAP vehicles.

But, the statement of work included in the solicitation (from the Marine Corps Systems Command) for the next generation of MRAP vehicles reveals that each of the new MRAP IIs could be stuffed with enough comm gear to take care of an infantry battalion.

The statement of work says each vehicle could be equipped with a wide range of communications gear including multiple radio and satellite systems. The satellite systems eyed for use in the MRAP II include the Movement Tracking System from Comtech Mobile Datacom, which supports two-way text messaging and the ROVER III receiver from L3 Communications, designed to receive battlefield video feeds from manned and unmanned aircraft.

Terrestrial radio systems planned for the MRAP II include workhorse, VHF Single Channel Ground Airborne Radio Systems manufactured by ITT and other companies, the multi-band (including UHF satcom) AN-VRC 103 from Harris, and the AN-VRC 104, an HF radio widely used by the Marines.

Other C2 gear planned for installation in MRAP IIs include the secure Defense Advanced GPS Receiver (from Rockwell Collins) and the satellite-based Blue Force Tracking System from General Dynamics.

The once-a-Marine radio operator in me can hardly wait to test drive a new MRAP II stuffed with all these goodies.

Bids for the MRAP II are due Oct. 1, and, according to the Marines, potential bidders include vehicle manufacturers such as AM General and Oshkosh Truck, as well integrators such as Lockheed Martin Systems Integration Group and BAE Systems.