Northrop Grumman has confirmed its readiness to start full rate production of Freedom 350 radio to help satisfy the US Army’s mid-tier networking vehicular radio (MNVR) acquisition programme, following the successful completion of a series of tests, trials, demonstrations and an initial production run.

Designed with growth capability for anticipated waveform evolution, the easy-to-use radio demonstrated its ability to efficiently integrate into army platforms for potential inclusion in capability set 14-15 during lab and field events at various military installations across the US.

During testing in the Mojave Desert, the airborne radio bridged soldier radio waveforms (SRW) and wideband networking waveforms (WNWs), while transmitting live video from both the aircraft’s cockpit and a wing camera to ground platforms.

The testing also demonstrated accurate spectrum management by transmission of dismounted soldier video by a helmet-mounted camera through an SRW radio through the Freedom 350, while man-pack electronic warfare equipment defeated triggers for improvised explosive devices.

Northrop Grumman information systems defense systems division sector vice-president and general manager, Mike Twyman, said the radio received positive feedback from the soldiers, especially regarding the intuitive icons used for its control that work similar to the icons on their smartphones and tablets.

"The radio received positive feedback from the soldiers, especially regarding the intuitive icons similar to the icons on their smartphones and tablets."

"This intuitive approach eases use and reduces the need for training. Most importantly, the Freedom 350 MNVR solution will increase the confidence and capability of soldiers to effectively complete their critical missions," Twyman said.

Claimed to be less expensive but more capable than other competing MNVR radios, Freedom 350 also generates additional cost and time savings due to its ability to install on existing SINCGARS radios and docks to the original power and control cables and intercom systems without any modifications.

The radio is designed with additional memory and processing power to support integration of new waveforms, operational use at multiple levels of security, and growth to future architectures and networks.

Northrop is partnered with ITT Exelis on MNVR programme, which replaces the joint tactical radio system ground mobile radio (JTRS GMR) that was cancelled in October 2011.

Defence Technology