Army opens Manpack and Rifleman Radio competitions

Army leaders announced Monday they will open the Rifleman and Manpack Radio competitions Monday with the defense industry eager to tackle a contract that could yield a multi-billion dollar purse as the Army looks to reinvigorate their aging communications architecture.

The Army has listed its Network and communications systems as the service’s top modernization priority. The Pentagon canceled the Joint Tactical Radio System. Army officials, however, look to salvage the Rifleman and Manpack Radio systems that fell under JTRS.

General Dynamics has received an order from the Army for 3,726 Manpacks. Army officials have ordered another 19,327 Rifleman Radios splitting the order between General Dynamics and Thales.

Despite the orders, the Army chose to open the competition to bidders. Army leaders said on the floor at the Association of the U.S. Army that they have not lost faith in either General Dynamics or Thales to build the radios, but its in the best interests of the Army to review as many offers as possible.

Heidi Shyu, the Army’s acquisition chief, has made clear her desire to instill as much competition as possible in order to save money.

The Manpacks have also already run into problems in testing at the White Sands Missile Range where the Army holds the Network Integration Evaluation. Independent Pentagon testers found the Manpacks didn’t hold up in simulated combat conditions. General Dynamics contends the conditions were too extreme with the multitude of radios in the desert causing problems with all radios in the area.

A host of companies are expected to bid to build the two radio systems to include BAE Systems, Harris as well as General Dynamic and Thales. With so few defense contracts up for bid, this one will draw a considerable amount of attention.

About the Author

Michael Hoffman
Michael Hoffman is the executive editor at Tandem NSI and a contributor to Military.com. He can be reached at mhoffman@tandemnsi.com.
  • Lance

    Hope General Dynamics wins. New radios are a good thing.

  • david

    “the conditions were too extreme.” LOL!

    • Treshombres

      Were they expecting the Army to fight in the Mall of America?

    • blight_

      “General Dynamics contends the conditions were too extreme with the multitude of radios in the desert causing problems with all radios in the area.”

      As if the military won’t expect itself to be operating in the empty desert anymore? Or in the presence of jamming by overload, or perhaps in urban environments…hmm.

      • tmb2

        I had no idea GD made manpack radios. I’ve been using their bigger stuff for years which ALWAYS OVERHEATED.

        • blight_

          I suspect they don’t. Just buy out some other guy’s radio and call it your own, because GD has the lobbyists and the *ASC guys on tap.

        • TrustButVerify

          You’d be surprised how many pies they have a finger (or something) in. In particular, GD produces the URC-200 which is a pretty common piece of kit around airfields.

  • Dan Gao

    Both are very promising pieces of kit. Looking forward to seeing wider fielding.

  • Sergei

    Borrow amrerican u.s dollar you Why china buy maybe make radio u.s gi joe make many u.s dollar i think.

    OK No problem we told say

    • Vaporhead

      I reread your post about 3 times, and I still have no idea what you just said.

      • Mark

        I think the following is what he ment, “we will be happy to build the new radios for you, but it will cost you twice. Interest from our loan to you and payment for the equipment.”

  • tmb2

    I’ve always enjoyed using Harris radios. HF, VHF, UHF, SATCOM, squad leader up to TOC – the user interface is almost identical on all of their products.

  • Cosmoskitten

    This is what makes USA a great country! Find out what works, and what does not! It is a combination of curiosity and skepticism.

    In so many other countries, people are very afraid of failing even once.

  • Woody

    What did the 2nd Lt. say to the General back at the FOB over the radio?….”Can you hear me now”?….the General said “No, send a runner”….

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