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US Combat Radio Network

SINCGARS is a Combat Radio Network (CRN) used by the US Armed Forces and some of their allies. SINCGARS is the abbreviation of Single Ground and Airborne Radio System, consisting of a variety of radio sets ranging from hand-held devices to vehicle mounted units. The radios can handle voice and data communication, both secure and non-secure.

SINCGARS radios work in the lower VHF band (30 to 88 MHz), with 25 kHz channel spacing. They can operate on a single channel as wel as in Frequency Hopping mode (FH). In FH-mode, the radio uses a slow hop-rate.

Early SINCGARS units, such as the RT-1439/VRC shown here, were only suitable for non-secure communication and required an external crypto unit such as the KY-57 (Vinson) or the more advanced KY-99. Later ICOM versions, such as the RT-1523, featured built-in COMSEC, so an external KY-57 was no longer needed.
Perspective right view of the RT-1439/VRC

Over 250,000 SINCGARS radios have been built. Many of them have been improved (modified) over the years. Production started in 1984 after ITT won the contract in November 1983. They replaced the synthesized single-frequency radios from the Vietnam-era, such as the AN/PRC-77 and the AN/VRC-12, but were still backwards compatible with them. The replacement price for a typical SINCGARS unit was approx. $6,500.

Since 2008, SINCGARS is superceeded by a Software Defined Radio (SDR), called Joint Tactical Radio System or JTRS, (pronounced jitters), that is backwards compatible with HAVE QUICK and SINCGARS. Due to budget overruns, technical problems and specification changes, introduction of JTRS has been postphoned several times. It is now hoped that the first JTRS units can be introduced in 2010.

Known models
  • RT-1439
  • RT-1523 (Various models)
  • RT-1702 (Export version)
  • RT-1730
  • AN/VRC-92F
Related equipment
Further information
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Crypto Museum. Last changed: Sunday, 19 September 2010 - 10:51 CET.
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