by Justin Oakes
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs
8/4/2015 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Massachusetts -- The
AWACS Communication and Network Upgrade program office here is
conducting market research in an effort to replace the existing tactical
radio system on E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System
Recently, the Hanscom-based team issued a request for information to
assess potential commercial sources able to produce, install and modify
components that will be compatible with the new multifunctional
information distribution system/joint tactical radio system, known as
The current legacy tactical radio system on Block 40/45 AWACS will be
replaced by the MIDS/JTRS to support Link 16 enhancements -- some of
which have been mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration by 2020.
The Link 16 Network is used by several Armed Services, and facilitates
communication between other aircraft and ground forces. Beyond radio
command and control communication, Link 16 allows for images and
real-time video to pass among users.
In addition to federal regulations, diminishing manufacturing sources
also drives the Air Force's decision to update the AWACS communication
"The current radio is 20-30 years old, and finding replacement parts
becomes increasingly more difficult as time goes on," said Steven Clark,
CNU program manager. "We have to replace the existing radio box, but
we'll also be modernizing the terminal and adding new capabilities."
Some of the increased capabilities of the new unit include crypto
modernization; frequency remapping; Concurrent Multi-Netting 4, or CMN4;
concurrent contention reception; enhanced throughput and dynamic
With CMN-4, for example, on-board battle managers will be able to
monitor and receive messages on four different channels while
transmitting through one dedicated line.
"The more information feeding into our intelligence, surveillance and
reconnaissance aircraft simultaneously, the better," Clark said. "Battle
managers will have better situational awareness and access to a larger
pool of information."
As far as the installation itself, "it's not as simple as removing one
radio and replacing it with another," Clark said. "Factors such as size,
weight, power, connectivity and available products all have to be taken
While the CNU program is still in its infancy, it is gaining momentum quickly.
Program officials anticipate a request for proposal sometime during the
second quarter of fiscal 2016, with a contract award goal in early
"We're moving forward and taking the necessary steps to ensure a
successful and expedited modernization to the AWACS radio system," Clark