US Marine Corps releases RFI for new wideband satellite radios

The service is seeking $16M from Congress

The U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) plans to purchase new wideband satellite radios, enabling Marines to access the internet and U.S. Department of Defense networks without a line-of-sight connection.

The USMC wants to buy two new radio systems — the Marine Corps Wideband Satellite Communications Light (MCWS-L) and Heavy (MCWS-H) systems — according to a June 10 request for information (RFI). Both radios will be modular, multichannel, super-high frequency terminals capable of communicating over X-, Ku- and Ka-bands. The light system would support battalions and smaller Marine Corps missions, while the heavy system would support whole regiments and larger missions.

U.S. Marines troubleshoot the Marine Corps Wideband Satellite Communications – Expeditionary at base camp. / Source: U.S. Marine Corps

L3Harris Technologies (NYSE:LHX) is the prime contractor on MCWS-X, a small man-packable radio within the Marine Corps’ wideband satellite communications portfolio. The company was awarded a five-year indefinite delivery / indefinite quantity contract with an $88 million ceiling in 2020.

The service plans to issue an indefinite delivery / indefinite quantity contract with five, one-year ordering periods to a single supplier for the MCWS Light and Heavy systems. Under the two-phase program, the military will purchase a handful of test systems to ensure the terminals meet USMC needs. Phase two will include production-level purchases and distributing the radios to units in the field, as well as ongoing support. Responses to the RFI are due July 26.

While the RFI does not indicate how much the eventual contract will be worth, the USMC sought $16 million for the effort in a fiscal 2023 budget request currently being considered by Congress. The Corps plans to buy eight light terminals for about $1 million each, and four heavy terminals for $2 million each in fiscal 2023, according to budget documents, and aims to achieve initial operational capability by fiscal 2026.

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