U.S. Army Plans To Acquire ‘Software-Defined’ Radios for Helo Fleets

 - January 11, 2013, 10:05 AM
Rockwell Collins told AIN that it will offer its software-defined ARC-210 Generation 5 radio for the U.S. Army’s Small Airborne Networking Radio program. (Photo: Rockwell Collins)

The U.S. Army plans to acquire up to 7,000 advanced, “software-defined” radios for its helicopters in a successor program to the disbanded Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) effort. In a recent notice, the service said it will issue draft performance requirements for the Small Airborne Networking Radio (SANR) program this month, followed by a draft request for proposals in the summer.

The SANR has evolved from the airborne and maritime/fixed station JTRS (AMF JTRS) program awarded to a Lockheed Martin-led team, initially for Army AH-64D Apache helicopters and Air Force C-130s. The JTRS parent program, launched in 1997, aimed to produce an interoperable, joint services line of radios using waveforms, or signals, created from software in a common operating environment. The JTRS effort was to deliver a set of products including the AMF, a ground mobile radio (GMR), handheld, manpack and small form fit (HMS) radios and multifunctional information distribution system (MIDS).

The Pentagon cancelled the troubled, Boeing-led GMR program in October 2011. Last September, it closed the JTRS joint program office and transferred the AMF and HMS programs to the Army and MIDS to the Navy. Other JTRS elements were folded into a new Joint Tactical Networking Center at the Naval Mine and Anti-Submarine Warfare Command in San Diego.

The SANR requirement is for 3,000 to 7,000 modified, “non-developmental item” radios over 12 years to equip AH-64D Apache Block III, UH-60M/L Black Hawk, CH-47F Chinook and OH-58F Kiowa Warrior helicopters. There is expected to be a single contract award. The Army Contracting Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., is the contracting organization.