King SINCGARS

The SINCGARS tactical communications waveform is in rude health despite its age. Is this thanks to its robust performance in Ukraine?

A recent article published by Forecast International touted the enduring appeal of the SINCGARS (Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System) tactical communications waveform.

The piece notes that the past three years has seen orders for radios using the SINCGARS waveform from Kuwait, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia, to name just three countries. Meanwhile L3Harris, SINGARS’ prime contractor, continues to support the waveform in US Army and US armed forces service, avid SINCGARS users, along with a plethora of other NATO members.

Life in the old hertz yet

SINCGARS entered US Army service in the early 1990s, the force’s 1st Division being the first unit to get SINCGARS-compatible radios. Sales have been following ever since.

Using frequencies of 30 megahertz/MHz to 80MHz, SINCGARS was revolutionary. It can handle digital and analogue traffic, move data at rates of 16 kilobits-per-second and be used for clear and frequency-hopping communications.

The US government supplied an undisclosed number of L3Harris radios using the SINCGARS waveform to Ukraine since the latter’s decent into civil war in 2014.

Anecdotal evidence shared with the author by members of the Ukrainian tactical communications and electronic warfare communities notes that SINCGARS has remained largely unaffected by significant Russian jamming. This alone is a good advertisement for SINCGARS. Furthermore, as of 2018 the US Army is enhancing the waveform using lessons learned from Ukraine. Despite hitting its third decade, SINCGARS stills has some miles left to run.

The SINCGARS waveform is in high demand thanks in part to its robust performance in Ukraine in the face of Russian jamming. (Photo: US DOD)

Published by Thomas Withington

Thomas Withington is a writer and analyst specialising in electronic warfare, radar and military communications.

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