The Army is planning on equipping some units of the 82nd Airborne Division with new radios that the Pentagon has already criticized for being inferior and unreliable. The new radios, known as the Mid-Tier Networking Vehicular Radio (MNVR) were designed to be used in areas where satellite systems are not working or where those satellite systems are being denied by enemy electronic tactics. This sounds like a good idea, but there is a problem with this particular radio system according to the Pentagon’s field tests. It does not work.
Even so, the Army is scheduled to hand out the radios to the 82nd’s 1st Brigade Combat Team. The radios will also be given to the 3rd BCT sometime this spring, according to Col. James P. Ross, Project Manager, Tactical Radios. Ross states the radios are needed because they are designed to operate without the use of satellites. The radios are meant to provide communications to battalion and brigade commanders.
The use of satellites for radio communications has grown substantially over the last decade. When working, these sat-radios can provide more flexibility to commanders in the field when compared to traditional terrestrial radios. The big problem, of course, is certain entities, such as Russia or China, can disrupt satellite coverage, making these sat-radios all but useless.
The new MNVR is supposed to provide terrestrial capabilities to handle large data throughput to battalion and brigade level commanders. However, the Pentagon’s Michael Gilmore, chief weapons tester, has already stated, on the record, that the MNVR does not come up to standards for operational needs at the mid-tier level. Gilmore’s report came out on July 5. In his report, he stated that of 39 surveyed battalion and company commanders and senior staff, all of them recommended that the Army not field the MNVR. In addition, he said that the MNVR did not provide any added value when used in a satellite communications-denied environment.
For its part, the Army disagrees with Gilmore and says that the radio does what it is supposed to do. When in use in a sat-denied environment, the radio, essentially, becomes a line-of-sight terrestrial radio. This means that for greater distance use, re-transmit sites have to be set up, and commanders will need to adjust their plans accordingly.
As of October 2016, 120 MNVR radios are scheduled to be given to each of the selected brigades. Feedback from users will be used to help define how soldiers will be able to use the MNVR in sat-denied areas.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
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