"We have more of a single-platform situational awareness requirement," said the Marine Corps source, "with less of a [mutliplatform] precision-targeting requirement [than the Army.]" Despite the differing requirements, part of the IOT&E program was used to demonstrate interoperability between the single MEWSS prototype and the Army's GBCS-L platforms - believed to be the first time Marine Corps and Army intelligence operators have networked to gather real-time SIGINT data.
Although operational tests focused on the SIGINT portion of the program, the MEWSS PIP also includes a pre-planned product improvement that will select a new jammer for the vehicles.
According to the Army's COL Mel Heritage, who directs the IEWCS program at Vint Hill, the Marines "have been able to catch up fast, with racking and stacking being their biggest issues." In fact, Vint Hill should have a prototype MEWSS completed late this summer, said Colonel Heritage, in time to take to the range for the GBCS-Light IOT&E as an additional test/support vehicle.
When it makes the first test runs, however, the MEWSS, like the GBCS-Light this summer, will not yet have the EA subsystem, which has trailed in the program schedule while the Army gave first priority to the TACJAM-A's intercept front-end (again, see the May 1996 feature article).
In toto, the Marines intend to procure 12 MEWSS systems - six for each of the two Marine radio battalions, the Fleet Marine Force organizations tasked with ground EW and SIGINT operations.
As an official member of the IEWCS family, the MEWSS will enjoy all the benefits of interoperability (occasioned by a common MECDL data link) on any future battlefield.
In the MEWSS the Marines will combine both intelligence-collection - i.e., SIGINT - and EA functions.
When the service first responded to the requirement a few years ago, related Capt Tony Seals, project officer for LAV MEWSS at the Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC), it wanted a major upgrade but no major development work.
As the fourth musketeer in the IEWCS triad, the LAV MEWSS will be totally interoperable with the Army vehicles, communicating over the same MEDCL data link.