By Argie Sarantinos-Perrin, PM Tactical Radios Staff WriterAugust 13, 2014
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (August 13, 2014) -- By equipping Army vehicles with a new high-bandwidth networking radio, Soldiers at the platoon and company levels can rapidly exchange mission-critical voice messages, images and video with battalion and brigade.
With increased bandwidth and range for the terrestrial network, the Mid-tier Networking Vehicular Radios (MNVR) will link lower-echelon digital radios like the Rifleman and Manpack to the Army's satellite communications backbone, Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T). In order to remain on track and field the radio to operational units as part of Capability Set (CS) 17, the radio is undergoing a series of rigorous tests.
"The preliminary tests are complete, and we have moved into the formal developmental testing activities, which will be followed by operational and certification testing," said Eric Goodman, product manager for MNVR. "Each test provides important information that is helpful toward our goal of fielding the radios to Soldiers."
Currently, the MNVR team is conducting a lab based Government Integration Test (GIT) at the Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) Systems Integration Laboratory (CSIL) located at Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG), Md. The data from both the GIT Lab and GIT Over-The-Air (OTA) event, which will commence in September at the Army's Electronic Proving Ground (EPG) at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., will be used to make improvements to the radio in advance of a Limited User Test (LUT) that will be performed next spring.
At the Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) 15.2 in spring 2015, the Army's Operational Test Command will conduct a LUT that will provide the data to evaluate the operational effectiveness, suitability and survivability of the MNVR radio. The LUT will not only determine how the system interfaces with the upper tier of the network, or WIN-T, but also measure performance of the Wideband Networking Waveform (WNW) and the Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW), which are the waveforms that the MNVR radio uses to pass voice and data message traffic.
The waveforms operate as "nodes" and draw on available spectrum that provides secure wireless networking services for mobile and stationary forces to transmit information, including voice, data, images and video, across complex terrain.
The MNVR radios, which are assigned to the Program Executive Office, Command, Control and Communications -- Tactical (PEO C3T), are also compatible with legacy systems, such as the Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System (SINCGARS). While the radio will be integrated into Army tactical vehicles, including Stryker, Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP), High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs) and the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV), it also interoperates with the single-channel Rifleman and dual-channel Manpack radios that are fielded as part of current and future Capability Sets.
Capability Sets deliver an integrated communications package for the brigade combat team, including voice and data to all echelons from the command post to the commander on-the-move to the dismounted Soldier.
The Army purchased the first MNVR systems in September 2013 which successfully underwent formal demonstration at the NIE 14.2. The radios were procured using a Non-Developmental Item (NDI) acquisition approach, a new strategy that enables industry partners to compete for contracts using commercially developed products that fulfill the Army's requirements for radios.
In order to continue timely preparations for the upcoming LUT, the MNVR test and evaluation team also leveraged existing equipment from the cancelled Ground Mobile Radio (GMR) program to validate and setup configuration of the MNVR GIT lab test bed.
As the program works toward a Full Rate Production decision in Fiscal Year 2016, the MNVR team will continue laboratory evaluations, over-the-air testing, logistics assessments and operational testing at APG, EPG, Ft. Bliss, Texas (during an NIE) and Yuma Proving Ground. Other tests that will monitor how the radio performs in high temperatures, humidity and fungus will be performed in Panama, Central America.
The Army will use information that is gathered from all of the tests, including results from NIE 15.2, to inform future fielding decisions. NIEs are a series of semi-annual, Soldier-led evaluations that provide the Army with critical information about various technologies that are fielded as part of Capability Sets. NIEs are held at Fort Bliss, Texas and White Sands Missile Range, N.M.
"The MNVR radio provides Soldiers with a dynamic layer of communication that covers the entire chain of command," said Col. William R. Wygal, project manager for Tactical Radios. "With its extended reach, it is an important part of the Army's overall tactical network, and we are moving forward to deliver it for our Soldiers."