Army Releases Manpack Radio Request for Proposals

August 4, 2015

Vendors have 60 days to respond.

The U.S. Army has released a request for proposals (RFP) to procure additional Manpack Radios, which officials describe as the Army’s first two-channel, software-defined radio capable of supporting advanced and current force waveforms.

The RFP, which was posted August 3 to the Federal Business Opportunities website, is the next step as the Army moves toward full rate production of the system. The Manpack Radio is part of the Handheld, Manpack and Small Form Fit program.

The service will award contracts to multiple vendors, and those vendors will compete for delivery orders as needed, after they achieve technical and operational requirements.

“By using the competitive radio marketplace to procure the next generation of Manpack Radios, we are maximizing our buying power,” Col. James P. Ross, USA, project manager for Tactical Radios, said in a written statement. “In each step of the process, we are working closely with industry partners to procure superior radios at lower costs.”

Since the draft RFP was released in April, the Army has refined the requirements. As an example, the Army lowered the full mission weight of the Manpack Radio. The current full mission weight of the Manpack Radio is 19.33 pounds, which includes the radio with two batteries and supporting gear (two handheld mikes, antennas, a GPS antenna and the battery bucket). The new full mission weight requirement, which is reflected in the RFP, is 16 pounds with equipment necessary to meet the current dismounted range requirements.

Vendors have 60 days to respond to the final RFP, and contract awards are expected in second quarter fiscal 2016. Once contracts are awarded, each vendor will provide 30 radios at no cost to the government for qualification testing, which will determine if threshold requirements have been met.

Vendors that meet qualifications will move to the next phase, which will be further testing. The Army will then purchase 60 Manpack Radios from each remaining vendor for the tests.

Full rate production is scheduled to begin in the final quarter of fiscal 2017, and the Army has been authorized to purchase up to 60,296 Manpack Radios. The five-year base, plus a five-year option indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract can be awarded to multiple vendors who meet the technical and service requirements to support the radio. The Army can release a new contract if radio technology changes significantly after the initial five-year award.

If a new contract is released, other vendors will have an opportunity to compete if they meet the requirements.

The Army already has already purchased 5,326 Manpack Radios through low rate initial production. Those radios have been fielded to seven Brigade Combat Teams in the 10th Mountain (Light Infantry), 101st Airborne (Air Assault) and 82nd Airborne Divisions. The radios were used during training missions and by soldiers deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq.

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