04.30.15

SCHUMER LAUNCHES PUSH TO GET FULL FUNDING FOR ARMY TACTICAL RADIO PROGRAM FOR 2016 – SCHUMER SAYS COMPANIES LIKE HARRIS RADIO IN ROCHESTER WOULD HAVE OPPORUNITY TO PRODUCE DEVICES TO HELP COMMUNICATION AND COOPERATION AMONG MILITARY SERVICE MEMBERS

Schumer Urges Fed Appropriators To Fully Fund Program Aimed at Producing & Modernizing Tactical Radio Units for U.S. Military; Advancements In Troop Communication Makes Radio Units a Necessary Resource On Battlefield & On Base

Harris Radio in Rochester Has Already Been Selected to Undergo Developmental Tests to Produce Radio Units – Meaning Support for Local Jobs & Expanded Production – But Schumer Says Entire Effort Rests on a Fully Funded Federal Program

Schumer: Cutting-Edge Radios Would Help Our Troops Share Information, Better Communicate and Stay Out of Harm’s Way – Feds Should Fully Fund Program Without Delay

  

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today urged federal appropriators to provide full funding for the U.S. Army’s tactical radio modernization programs in Fiscal Year 2016. Schumer explained that modernizing the tactical network is a top priority for the Army, which is why it’s critical they have the radio units – both stationary and handheld – to allow our troops to better communicate with each other and share information when they are overseas or on base. Schumer said the need to produce these kinds of radios would be a great opportunity for companies around the country, including Upstate New York. In fact, Schumer said, Harris Radio in Rochester was recently selected to undergo developmental tests for its JTRS Handheld, Manpack, and Small Form-Fit (HMS) radio system, which will allow it to increase production and support its local workforce if selected.

“Our troops deserve the best equipment to do their jobs effectively and safely, whether that is on the battlefield or back on base. These advanced radio systems, which are made by firms like Harris radio in Rochester, which allow our service members to better share information and communicate with each other, will do just that,” said Schumer. “This state-of-the-art technology will cut through the noise and help facilitate coordination between troops and their commanding officers faster than our current systems, which is exactly why we must invest in their development now. Fully funding this program will not only allow companies like Harris Radio in Rochester to compete to produce these systems with local workers but also provide our dedicated men and women in uniform the high-tech equipment they desperately need and deserve.”

Schumer explained that the Army’s modernization efforts rely greatly on the planned family of networked tactical radios. The network will provide advanced joint tactical end-to-end networking data and voice communications to dismounted troops, ground, and airborne platforms. Schumer said the network is a key facilitator for the modernization of the Army’s deployable mobile communications system as it will allow for information sharing and communication between mission commanders and deployed soldiers at the tactical edge. Schumer explained that these modernization programs are a top priority for the Army, and thereby national defense. Therefore, Schumer is urging the Senate Appropriations Committee and Committee on Armed Services to authorize and appropriate funding for the Army’s tactical radio programs in the National Defense Authorization Act and the Defense Appropriations Bill for fiscal year 2016.

Schumer also said that once Harris Radio passes all the testing phases of the acquisition process, it could move to full rate of production in 2017. In addition to testing, this program must be fully funded in this year’s Defense Appropriations bill. Specifically, the Joint Tactical Radio System (JRTS) Handheld and Manpack (HMS) radio unit, which could be manufactured by Harris Radio in Rochester following a successful test period,provides the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Special Operations Command with a family of digital radios that increase interoperability, flexibility, and adaptability to support tactical communications.  The Army has moved to ensure that the HMS program is a multi-vendor acquisition program that will provide advanced capability in a continuous competitive environment for the best value.  The radios include the Rifleman Radio, a lightweight, rugged body-worn radio that transmits voice and data simultaneously, and the Manpack Radio, a two-channel radio that is mounted in vehicles or used for dismounted operations. HMS provides simultaneous voice, data, and video communications to the most disadvantaged Warfighter.  Given the commitment to competition from Army, we strongly urge Congress to support the Army’s efforts and avoid encouraging an additional low-rate initial procurement (LRIP).

Furthermore, just yesterday the Army awarded a significant contract that could lead to substantial work in the future for Harris radio’s production lines. However, any future work is dependent on maintaining adequate funding levels like those being sought by Schumer. Specifically, yesterday the Army awarded contracts to Harris Corporation and Thales Defense and Security Incorporated to provide Handheld, Manpack and Small-Form Fit HMS Rifleman radios. The awards were made through the Army’s competitive “radio marketplace approach” for full-rate production and each vendor will produce 50 radios to be tested. According to the Army’s plan, vendors that pass testing will field radios beginning in fiscal 2017 for five years with the option for five more years of orders.  

A copy of Senator Schumer’s letter to federal appropriators appears below:

The Honorable Thad Cochran                                    The Honorable Richard J. Durbin

Chairman                                                                    Vice Chairman

Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense                Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense

Unite States Senate                                                    United States Senate

122 Dirksen Senate Office Building                          122 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510                                            Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Chairman Cochran and Vice Chairman Durbin,

We write to urge the Senate Appropriations Committee to support full funding for the U.S. Army’s tactical radio modernization programs in Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, specifically the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) Handheld,  Manpack, and Small Form Fit (HMS), the Mid-Tier Networking Vehicular Radio (MNVR), and the Airborne-Maritime Fixed (AMF) radios.

The Army’s planned family of networked tactical radios is their future deployable mobile communications system. It will provide advanced joint tactical end-to-end networking data and voice communications to dismounted troops, ground, and airborne platforms. The network is a key enabler to getting the Army where it needs to go, allowing for information sharing and communication between mission commanders and forward deployed soldiers at the tactical edge.

The HMS program provides the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Special Operations Command with a family of digital radios that increase interoperability, flexibility, and adaptability to support tactical communications.  The Army has moved to ensure that the HMS program is a multi-vendor acquisition program that will provide advanced capability in a continuous competitive environment for the best value.  The radios include the Rifleman Radio, a lightweight, rugged body-worn radio that transmits voice and data simultaneously, and the Manpack Radio, a two-channel radio that is mounted in vehicles or used for dismounted operations. HMS provides simultaneous voice, data, and video communications to the most disadvantaged Warfighter.  Given the commitment to competition from Army, we strongly urge Congress to support the Army’s efforts and avoid encouraging an additional low-rate initial procurement (LRIP).

The MNVR program procures vehicle mounted radios that provide a new “mid-tier” in the tactical network, providing voice, data, and video from the upper tactical network at brigade and battalion echelons to the lower tactical network at company and platoon echelons. MNVR connects the soldier to mission command and enhances the ability to exchange voice and data simultaneously and faster than current systems.

And finally, the AMF program, still in the early development phase, will provide Army Aviation platforms the ability to link with and expand integrated tactical networks. AMF ensures Army aviators’ ability to communicate both horizontally and vertically via voice and data within all mission areas and in all combat operational environments. 

Modernizing the tactical network is a top priority for the Army. After years of issues, these programs have been restructured as competitive, non-developmental item procurements, in order to ensure cost savings and innovation in the marketplace. In the HMS program, the Army intends to award multiple-vendor IDIQ contracts, in order to drive down costs and encourage vendors to invest in their products, making the radios smaller, lighter, and better performing over the program life cycle. 

We understand the fiscal pressures faced by the Department of Defense. However, given the importance of communication and information in mission success, we ask that you fully fund the Army’s tactical radio programs in the FY2016 Defense Appropriations Bill.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator

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