Harris [HRS] plans to demonstrate its Airborne Multi-channel Radio (HAMR) at the Pentagon July 10 as the company waits for the Army to restart the Small Airborne Networking Radio (SANR) program that that will bring aviation platforms and ground forces closer, a company official said.
The Army is expected to restart the SANR program that lost funding due to sequestration and the budget squeeze.
The question is “when,” Ray Cerrato, a business development manager at Harris Government Communications Systems, said in an interview. Harris does not believe the service will deviate from its acquisition plans to procure the non-developmental item radios.
Bringing networking to the air broadens the capability set the radio can deliver, from situational awareness to intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance data, to command and control relaying, imagery, video and text, Cerrato said. The SANR radio is expected to do all that in the same footprint as the current radios running Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System (SINCGARS) combat net radio that mainly supports voice communication. Moving to SANR will also bring “a complete shift” in how the land force operates, as it supports a networked Battlespace.
“That’s where airborne radios need to go,” Cerrato said.
Harris will demonstrate the Wideband Networking Waveform (WNW) and Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW) and networking interoperability at the Thursday Pentagon Tech Day. The system has already been demonstrated at Fort Rucker, Ala., the Association of the United States Army Winter Symposium in Huntsville, Ala., the Army Aviation Mission Solutions Summit in Nashville, Tenn., and in Washington D.C.
Feedback from those who went through a demonstration was: “overwhelmingly they like it and they want it,” Cerrato said. There’s interest beyond the Army, as well, with demonstrations for Special Operations Command, the Air Force and on the Army’s Gray Eagle unmanned aerial vehicle.
The Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T) manages the program. In addition to Gray Eagle, SANR is designed for AH-64 Apache, CH-47 Chinook, UH-60 Black Hawk and OH-58 Kiowa Warrior helicopters.
Harris assesses there are several more defense companies that have invested their own corporate funds to build SANR offerings. That saves money for the government because it has not had to spend Research, Development, Test and Evaluation money getting the program off the ground.
Companies that have expressed interest in SANR include BAE Systems, General Dynamics [GD], Raytheon [RTN] and Northrop Grumman [NOC].
HAMR is a two channel wideband radio able to deliver voice, high-speed IP-networked data, and full motion video (FMV) to the tactical edge, taking advantage of tactical VHF/UHF networks to provide air-to-air and air-to-ground communications.
Right now, Harris is working closely with the Army to help it understand how the waveforms work, its capability and possible ways to operate with it.