September 12, 2011 Andrew White, SHEPARD GROUP
London - General Dynamics C4 Systems (GDC4S) will unveil a vehicle adapter unit for its Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) Handheld Manpack Small-formfit (HMS) radio at DSEi this week.
According to Bill Rau, GDC4S director of communications programmes, the ‘Sidewinder’ unit is designed to provide an extension to the company’s JTRS HMS radios which include the handheld AN/PRC-154 Rifleman radio and AN/PRC-155 manpack systems.
It is understood that the adapter unit will make its evaluation debut at the US Army’s Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) exercise at Fort Bliss and White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico in October as well as tests scheduled early next year.
Speaking to Shephard, Rau described how Sidewinder would be integrated into the vehicle intercommunications systems of a ‘variety’ of mine resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles including 30 Navistar Defense’s MaxxPro systems and six Oshkosh MRAP All-Terrain Vehicles (MATVs).
‘Information has to get back somewhere so the AN/PRC-155 comprises a two-channel manpack allowing it to participate in the network and meaning it has a briefing capability to network up through higher security networks,’ Rau explained.
Designed to connect to the ‘edge’ of the tactical network, sensors and dismounted soldiers, JTRS HMS is part of a ‘renewed push’ to make a squad of soldiers more ‘strategic’, he added.
Meanwhile, AN/PRC-154 ‘needs to be successful’ in October’s NIE for the US DoD to grant permission for the full rate initial production of the radio system, which could be confirmed as early as February. ‘We are looking to continue to validate feature sets and performance and we will demonstrate the utility of Sidewinder [at NIE],’ Rau said.
It is understood that GDC4S will supply 165 rifleman radios and 21 manpacks for the NIE which will basically encompass an initial operational test and evaluation programme which Rau described as a ‘necessary pre-requisite ‘ before the programme goes to FRIP. ‘It is the only formal system under test at NIE,’ he added.
To date, the DoD has contracted GDC4S for 6,250 Rifleman radios although total requirements are yet to be published. However, sources said the army could be looking for more than 200,000 units.
Designed to ‘deploy a network covering the battlefield’, the Rifleman provides the warfighter with position location information; access to maps; photographs; as well as a capability to disseminate information in order to prosecute a mission.