WASHINGTON — The US Army has determined it has the need for the mid-tier network capability and is preparing to make a production decision for the radio that goes with the network later this summer, the Army has service confirmed.

The Army validated the need for a mid-tier network capability at the recently conducted Network Integration Evaluation 16.2 that took place at Fort Bliss, Texas, over two weeks in May, Paul Mehney, a spokesman for Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T), told Defense News.

The program will use the production decision to seek Pentagon permission to proceed with Llow Rrate Iinitial Pproduction for the MNVR radio, he added.

The vice chief of the Army directed an assessment of the network to see if there is a need for the mid-tier network. The network connects the HMS family of radios — mostly dismounted, hand-held units that push voice communications and data — to battalion and brigade Ttactical oOperations Ccenters so that colonels and generals can get line-of-site data from the radios.

The radio should be able to provide the capability for commanders to see what's happening on the battlefield in satellite communications-denied environments. At the NIE, satellite communications were shut off in order to see if the data could be pushed seamlessly through the mid-tier network instead.

The determination that the Army does need the mid-tier network also means good news for the Small Airborne Networking Radio (SANR).

SANR is meant to replace ARC-21 radios in aircraft that use the old Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System capability. The radio would add the ability to digitally connect the aviation platforms back into the ground network. Both the SANR and MNVR use the Army's Wideband Networking Waveform (WNW) to provide network connectivity between aircraft and ground vehicles, according to Mehney.

The WNW allows soldiers to talk, chat, collaborate, share reports and send data to the battalion and brigade, he added.

The program office "anticipates a draft request for proposal release to initiate full and open competition for the aviation based [SANR] within the coming weeks," Mehney said.

Email: jjudson@defensenews.com

Twitter: @jenjudson

Jen Judson is the land warfare reporter for Defense News. She has covered defense in the Washington area for 10 years. She was previously a reporter at Politico and Inside Defense. She won the National Press Club's best analytical reporting award in 2014 and was named the Defense Media Awards' best young defense journalist in 2018.

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