Army Wants New Radio for Helicopters, Drones

The Small Airborne Networking Radio, or SANR, is being developed for Army helicopters such as the CH-47 Chinook and UH-60 Black Hawk. Photo: U.S. Army.The Small Airborne Networking Radio, or SANR, is being developed for Army helicopters such as the CH-47 Chinook and UH-60 Black Hawk. Photo: U.S. Army.

The U.S. Army recently released a draft request for proposals for the Small Airborne Networking Radio, or SANR, for the service’s rotary-wing aircraft platforms.

Product Manager Airborne, Maritime & Fixed Station will replace the ARC-201D radios in the Army’s aviation platforms and provide soldiers with increased data, video, situational awareness, friendly force tracking and voice clarity, according to a recent Army press release.

The Army will award a single, five-year base plus one five-year option indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract. The Army plans to procure approximately 7,000 SANR over a ten-year period.

Due to the complexity of integrating the SANR onto aviation platforms, the Army will award the contract to a single vendor, reducing the risk and complexity by ensuring that platform integration, airworthiness certification, waveform interoperability and tactical communications are sustained throughout the lifecycle of SANR, according to the release.

“The initial five-year option gives the Army an opportunity to make adjustments if technology matures during that time,” Col. James Ross, project manager for Tactical Radios (PM TR) said in the release. “It also allows vendors that aren’t able to meet the Army’s criteria now to compete in the future.”

The SANR will provide the AH-64 Apache, CH-47 Chinook, UH-60 Black Hawk and Unmanned Aircraft System Gray Eagle aircraft with two networking waveforms, the Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW) and the Wideband Networking Waveform (WNW), as well as the legacy Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System (SINCGARS) waveform.

Using the widely fielded SINCGARS waveform maintains SANR’s interoperability for units across the force, the release states.

Both the SANR and the Mid-tier Networking Vehicular Radios (MNVR), use the WNW to provide network connectivity between aircraft and ground vehicles.

While the SANR will be integrated in the Army’s aviation platforms, the MNVR is integrated into Army tactical vehicles. With the WNW, both two channel radios will enable soldiers to talk and chat, collaborate, share reports and send data at the battalion and brigade levels, and provide the mid-tier that links the Lower Tactical Internet with the Upper Tactical Internet, according to the release.

At the recent Network Integration Evaluation 16.2, conducted in May 2016, the Army validated a need for the mid-tier using the MNVR. The MNVR program is moving toward a Milestone C decision, which will authorize the Army to purchase Low-Rate Initial Production radios later this summer, the release states.

In order to refine requirements for the draft SANR RfP, the Army has been working with industry by releasing Requests for Information and visiting vendors, keeping a steady flow of communication and information sharing.
The Army plans to hold an Industry Day at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. after the draft RfP is released, giving vendors an opportunity to ask questions, gather information and synchronize schedules. This will help the program shape requirements for the final RFP, which is planned for early 2017, according to Army officials.

Once the Army awards the SANR contract, the vendor will supply 100 radios – 19 will undergo a series of government verification tests, using the Apache as the lead platform, and 81 will be used for platform integration research, development, test and evaluation.

“The SANR will replace the ARC-201D radio, which provides one channel per radio, but the SANR will give pilots two additional channels since each aircraft will be equipped with two radios,” said Lt. Col. Monique Rivera, product manager for AMF.