WASHINGTON — The US Army awarded an $8.4 million delivery order to Harris Radios on Sept 24 for 232 mid-tier networking vehicular radios (MNVR) for testing and evaluation purposes as it works its way toward a low-rate initial production decision for up to 2,500 radios.
The MNVR program is the planned replacement for the canceled $2 billion Boeing-led Ground Mobile Radio program, which was axed in 2011 after cost overruns and system failures.
A contracting document released in July 2012 said the award should be worth about $140 million over two years, and the Army has issued estimates that it would eventually buy about 2,500 radio sets to equip its brigade combat teams.
An industry source says that the program should have the money to meet its targets, since there is still cash from the 2012 budget left over the pay for the program, along with funding streams in the 2013 and 2014 budgets.
The MNVR program is expected to play a key role in the Army’s overall modernization program, with the radio systems acting as a bridge between battalion- and brigade-level communications and soldiers on the move either in vehicles or on foot.
“With MNVR, information collected at the farthest tactical edge can be quickly shared across the network, enabling our Soldiers to communicate effectively for any mission in any region,” said Col. Gregory Fields, the program’s project manager. “By using a competitive approach to acquire mature technology that meets this need, we will deliver a more affordable, more capable radio to our forces.”
BAE Systems, General Dynamics C4 Systems, Harris and the team of Northrop Grumman and ITT Exelis were all in competition for the program.
Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) who represents a Central New York district that contains about 2,100 Harris employees, predictably praised the award, issuing a statement saying, “the best way to deliver the most capable and dependable equipment to the men and women of our military is to hold fair and open competitions … I’ll continue to stand by those workers and our servicemembers by ensuring the Defense Department allows open competition to get the best product at the best possible price.”
A Sept. 20 memo sent by Pentagon acquisition chief Frank Kendall said that the Army must have a complete MNVR acquisition strategy on his desk by Dec. 1.