The Army’s Electronic Proving Ground, or EPG, recently conducted a large scale technology demonstration of a new radio waveform at Fort Huachuca.
“We wanted to conduct a full scale, by that I mean an Army Brigade’s worth, of radios exercising [and] characterizing the performance of the wideband networking waveform,” said the Test Engineer for the Army’s Product Manager, Mid-Tier Networking Vehicular Radios (PdM MNVR), Joe Sweeney.
MNVR is a radio system that provides a robust, large scale networking capability within a large unit, like an Army Brigade from the Soldier to the senior leaders.
During the demonstration, a new radio waveform was shown capable of both data capacity and the ability to handle many network users. The demonstration showed the waveform was able to communicate between a smaller unit, like a company to a much larger unit, like a brigade.
“This amounted to 88 radios in ground platforms and one radio in a UH60 Blackhawk helicopter,” explained Sweeney.
To support a demonstration of this scale, EPG was selected because it offers 1.6 million acres of testing space through the Buffalo Electronic Test Range and its accessibility to radio spectrum. EPG is a favorite among testers in defense and commercial industry due to its access to radio spectrum in a very quiet radio spectrum environment.
“We needed an area with the ability to deploy vehicle assets in a large representative geographic area with a lot of allowable bandwidth. We also needed a site with established test capabilities — by that I mean testing networking capabilities,” said Sweeney. “EPG provided all of that.”
EPG, celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, is the developmental tester for the Army’s communication and network technology. Among test management, planning and reporting, EPG offers other rarer test requirements like radio spectrum and a varied geography including mountains, valleys and plains.
“We [EPG] have a clear [radio] spectrum, so we provide a real fidelity in testing; there are no other [radio spectrum] factors that can negatively influence our testing,” explained Mark Butler, the test officer at EPG for the demonstration.
“Once you have a clean spectrum, you can add things [interference] to it, or degrade it, but you can’t take a noisy spectrum and clean it up, so that makes EPG