The Network Integration Evaluation slated to start Monday will decide the fate of the mid-tier vehicular network.

At the NIE, satellite communications will be shut off. If all goes well, the data will be pushed seamlessly through the mid-tier network instead.

The Joint Battle Command-Platform, the Army's networked battle command information system that shows units, in near real-time, where friendly and enemy forces are on the battlefield through maps, graphics and messages, will support the MNVR testing at NIE.

Normally the JBC-P uses the Blue Force tracking network through a satellite transceiver to send information to the platform, but the satellite connectivity will be shut down and automatically connect to the MNVR.

The capability has been tested once before, and it was deemed highly successful. The soldiers didn't know they'd lost the satellite save the indication on the top of the platform's screen that goes red when satellite communications go out. The JBC-P continued to function just as it had before with full connectivity.

The program office is looking for soldier feedback at the NIE through the form of an after-action survey on how the MNVR handled data and how that affected soldiers' ability to fight.

The Brigade Modernization Command will then make an assessment and issue a report on how well MNVR performed, which will inform fielding decisions that could be anything from killing the program to deciding how many should get fielded and who should get the capability to recommending more units be procured than originally planned.

Other radio fielding strategies have changed dramatically following an NIE. It was decided, for instance, that the Army really only needs one-third of the radios it originally planned to buy. The Army wanted every soldier to have one of the hand-held radios, but the soldiers using the radio at the NIE realized, for the most part, they were always close enough to their unit leader that a radio was unnecessary, according to Brigade Modernization Command commander Brig. Gen. Terry McKerrick.

MNVR's fate will also inform what happens with the Small Airborne Networking Radio (SANR), Gary Martin, program executive officer for Command, Control, Communications-Tactical, told Defense News at the Association of the US Army's annual global force symposium in March.

SANR is meant to replace ARC-21 radios in aircraft that use the old Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System capability. The radio would add the ability to digitally connect the aviation platforms back into the ground network.

"What we want to do is make sure the aircraft migrate with modernization programs within the capability set portfolio so they can digitally connect," Martin said.

As dismounted soldiers migrate to digital based communications that aren't SINGCARS such as the Soldier Radio Waveform, aircraft will also need to know their position location information. SANR will allow seamless transmission of the information, especially if satellite communications is disrupted.

At the last NIE in the second half of 2015, the MNVR experienced electronic warfare and cybersecurity issues, but these will be addressed during MNVR's initial operational test and evaluation schedule for the summer of 2017, according to the program office.

During the test event, a stable anti-jamming waveform will be introduced. The waveform is being assessed on the latest version of MNVR during government regression tests, according to the program office.


Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.

More In IT and Networks