Army opens up competition for tactical field radios
- By Kevin McCaney
- May 28, 2014
The Army has initiated a full and open competition for Rifleman Radios, lightweight, rugged devices used for tactical communications in the field.
In a Request for Proposals, the Army said it would create a “radio marketplace” with awards to multiple vendors as it moves to Full Rate Production for the radios, which are included in the Handheld, Manpack, Small Form Fit program.
Under Low Rate Initial Production, the Army bought 21,379 Rifleman Radios, currently supporting operations in Afghanistan with the Capability Set 13 network package. Deployment is being spread to other brigaded teams, as part of Capability Set 14, the Army said. Ultimately, the Army expects to field 193,276 radios.
The RFP said an indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract with a five-year base and five-year option will be awarded to multiple vendors, a structure that allows the Army to issue a new contract should technology improve markedly after the initial five-year deal.
"The full and open competition gives all vendors the opportunity to participate as we work together to build the Army network," Brig. Gen. Daniel P. Hughes, Program Executive Officer for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical, said in an Army release. "The radio marketplace will support continuous innovation to deliver better radios for our soldiers."
A Rifleman Radio is a handheld device that acts as its own router, can connect to the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical and transmits voice and data via the Soldier Radio Waveform. It also can link to the Android-based Nett Warrior system, which uses modified Samsung smartphones for situational awareness, messaging and other applications.
The Army expects to award the contract some time in fiscal 2015, after which laboratory tests will determine which radios meet the proper criteria. Operational tests for those radios that qualify will subsequently be performed at a Network Integration Evaluation. NIEs are a series of semi-annual exercises in which the Army tests and improves its tactical network.
Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.