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US Combat Radio Network

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

SINCGARS radios work in the lower VHF radio band (30 to 88 MHz), and have a 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 low hopping-rate.

Early SINCGARS sets, such as the RT-1439/VRC shown here, were only suitable for non-secure communication and required an external crypto device such as the KY-57 (VINSON) or the newer KY-99 (ANDVT). ICOM versions of SINCGARS, such as RT-1523, had built-in COMSEC, so that an external encryptor was no longer required.

The bidding contest for SINCGARS equipment started in 1983 and was eventually won in Novem­ber of that year by ITT. After the contract had been awarded to them, production started in 1984. SINCGARS replaced the synthesized single-frequency radios from the Vietnam-era, such as the AN/PRC-77 and AN/VRC-12, but were still backward compatible with them. In total, more than 750,000 SINCGARS radios were produced, many of which were upgraded or modified over the years [1]. The typical replacement price for a single SINCGARS radio was around US$ 6,500.

Since 2008, SINCGARS is superceeded by a Software Defined Radio (SDR) solution known as Joint Tactical Radio System or JTRS, (pronounced jitters), that is backward compatible with HAVEQUICK and SINCGARS. Due to budget overruns, technical problems, specification changes and pro­gram restructurings, intro­duc­tion of JTRS was postphoned several times. The SINCGARS product line was completed in 2010 with the RT-1523G, which is JTRS SCA compliant. In 2011, ITT's defense business was spun-off as Exellis, after which it was taken over by Harris in 2015. in 2019, Harris was merged with L3 Technologies to form L3Harris, who continued to sell the RT-1523G [D].

SINCGARS equipment on this website
RT-1439 non-ICOM radio set
ECCM Fill Device (for Frequency Hopping)
Related equipment on this website
KY-57 (VINSON) voice encryptor
Narrow-band Voice and Data Terminal
AN/KYK-13 Key Transfer Device
Known SINCGARS models
Model Year Qty ICOM SIP ASIP Remark
RT-1439 1988 16,475 non-ICOM, external crypto. ITT
RT-1523 1990 39,375 Built-in KY-57 compatible COMSEC
RT-1523A           Manufactured by General Dynamics
RT-1523B 1994 37,363 Improved COSITE, increased battety life
RT-1523C 1996 35,152 Embedded RAILMAN COMSEC device
RT-1523D           Manufactured by General Dynamics
RT-1523E 1998 136,027 Half size/weight
RT-1523F 2006 273,037 SideHat, 2-channel version (aux), RBCI
RT-1523G 2010 12,029 Modernised crypto, JTRS SCA compliance
Special versions
RT-1730C 1996 ? Modified RT-1523C for Naval applications
RT-1730E 1998 ? Modified RT-1523E for Naval applications
RT-1702E 1998 ? Export version RT-1523E
RT-1702F 2006 ? Export version RT-1523F
Complete configurations
Configuration Description
AN/VRC-87 Vehicular 5W short range
AN/VRC-145 Vehicular 50W, 2 × RT-1523, HMMWV
AN/VRC-88 Vehicular 5W dismountable (with manpack accessories)
AN/VRC-89 Vehicular 50W short/long-range
AN/VRC-90 Vehicular 50W long-range
AN/VRC-91 Vehicular 50W long-range, dismountable (manpack acc.)
AN/VRC-92 Vehicular 50W dual long-range (retransmit)
AN/PRC-119 5W manpack
Over the years, there were various improvement programs:

  • ICOM
    From 1990 onwards, starting wit the RT-1523, all models had built-in voice encryption based on the KY-57 (VINSON) standard. This is known as Integrated COMSEC (ICOM).

  • SIP
    In 1996, starting with the RT-1523C, a so-called System Improvement Program (SIP) was launched. Radios manufactured under the SIP, are capable of sending data with Forward Error Correction (FEC), at higher baudrates, with better accuracy and over a longer range.

  • ASIP
    In 1998, starting with the RT-1523E, the so-called Advanced System Improvement Pro­gram (ASIP) was launched, in which the size and weight of the equipment were more than halved. In addition, new data modes were added, enhanced FEC, RS232 asynchronous data, packet data and direct interfacing to Precision Lightweight GPS Receiver (PLGR).
  1. Installation and Acceptance Test Specification (FINAL)
    for SINCGARS Aircraft Integrated COMSEC Development (Phase III).
    ITT-A/CD No. 3170E004-3. ITT-Aerospace/Communications Division, 24 August 1990.

  2. Department of Defense Interface Standard
    Interoperability Standard for Single-Access 5 kHz and 25 kHz UHF Satellite Communications Channels.
    MIL-STD-188-181A, 18 September 1992. MIL-STD-188-181A, 31 March 1997

    Multiservice Tactics, Techniques and Procedures. May 1996.

  4. L3Harris SINCGARS RT-1523 - product leaflet
    L3Harris Technologies, Inc., 2019.
  1. Wikipedia, SINCGARS
    Retrieved 18 April 2024.

  2. Wikipedia, JTRS
    Retrieved 18 April 2024.
Further information
Other websites
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Crypto Museum. Created: Wednesday 21 March 2012. Last changed: Friday, 31 May 2024 - 06:34 CET.
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