USAF To Upgrade AWACS Radio System

The Air Force is moving out on replacing the tactical radio system in the E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft, according to an Air Force news release. The tactical radio system on Block 40/45 AWACS will be replaced by the new multifunctional information distribution system/joint tactical radio system (MIDS/JTRS). The upgrade will bring with it new capabilities, including crypto modernization, dynamic network management and enhanced throughput. The upgraded radios also will allow an operator to receive messages on four different channels while transmitting through just one line, according to Air Force Materiel Command officials. The existing radio system is at least 20 years old, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to find replacement parts, said Steven Clark, the communication and network upgrade program manager. A team at Hanscom AFB, Mass., recently sent out a request for information to find out more about commercial sources who can build and install parts compatible with the new system. A request for proposals for the MIDS/JTRS effort is anticipated by the second quarter of Fiscal 2016, with a contract award slated for early Fiscal 2017.