Post GMR, DOD to take commercial route to mobile radio

JPEO JTRS seeks new approach to software-programmable, vehicle-based radio

The Defense Department has launched an effort to acquire a software-programmable, vehicle-based radio. Following the cancellation of the Ground Mobile Radio (GMR) program in October, DOD began another program to find, select and purchase a commercially developed radio sometime in 2013.

The decision to acquire a new radio began at the same time that the GMR was being canceled, GMR Program Manager Army Col. Gregory Fields said during a media briefing on Nov. 9. The new radio, known as a nondevelopmental item because DOD is looking for a finished commercial product, is the Mid-Tier Networking Vehicular Radio (MNVR).

A formal request for proposal will be issued to vendors in February 2012. However, on Nov. 4, the Joint Program Executive Officer for the Joint Tactical Radio System (JPEO JTRS) released a draft RFP to collect industry feedback, Fields said. After the RFP is formally issued next year, a source selection process will begin with industry proposals being received in February and March followed by proposal evaluations in April and May. In June, a source selection team will visit vendor plants to look at the proposed radios. There will be a heavy focus on functionality and the ability to operate the JTRS wideband networking waveform, Fields said.

After years of work, many commercial radio firms have a variety of software programmable military radios capable of running JTRS waveforms, Fields said. “We’re leveraging what industry has learned from government in their own research and development efforts,” he said.

In July 2012 vendor radios will be tested at DOD laboratories. The final set of radios will go to the Network Integration Evaluation in late July and early August for on-air testing under operational conditions, Fields said. A contracting award for a two-year, firm-fixed contract will be awarded in December 2013 and cover the 2014 brigade combat team capability set.

Under the contract, the winning firm will produce enough radios to equip eight to 10 brigade combat teams — roughly 800 to 1,000 radios, Fields said. Army officials have said there will be roughly 80 to 100 MNVR radios per brigade.

The goal of the contract is to find and acquire fully developed radios capable of operating the JTRS Wideband Networking and Soldier Rifleman waveforms. “We’re not going to be developing anything else,” Fields said.

Although it has been canceled, the JTRS GMR program will continue to run until March 2012. One reason for letting the program wind down is so that it can complete its National Security Agency certification for the wideband networking waveform, Fields said. The certification is expected to be awarded by the end of the GMR contract, he added.

The certified waveform software will be made available to vendors, which will help cut down the development costs for industry and accelerate the program, Fields said.

About the Author

Henry Kenyon is a contributing writer for Defense Systems.

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