SCHUMER, SLAUGHTER: LONG FIGHT TO MAKE HARRIS SUPPLIER FOR MULTI-YEAR NEXT GENERATION RADIOS HAS PAID OFF; HARRIS-WON CONTRACTS HAVE POTENTIAL TO CREATE HUNDREDS OF NEW JOBS IN ROCHESTER
Standing at Harris Radio Corp. in Rochester, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and Rep. Louise Slaughter today gathered with Harris workers to announce a major push to secure new federal investment opportunities. Schumer and Slaughter also celebrated the Army’s selection of Harris in February 2016 as one of three suppliers for the U.S. Army’s 10-year $12.7 billion Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) “Manpack” radio contract, which follows the Army’s April 2015 selection of Harris as one of two suppliers for the Army’s five-year $3.9 billion JTRS “Rifleman” radio contract.
The lawmakers also announced that the new SINCGARS radio manufacturing line is now open in Rochester and supporting 150 local jobs, including 50 new jobs so far. Harris consolidated and moved this line from out of state to Rochester with the support of the lawmakers after Harris’ 2015 acquisition of Exelis.
“This massive, and well-earned, $12.7 million contract will support existing jobs and upwards of a hundred new jobs in Rochester. Harris Radio has proven, again and again, that they are capable of making superior radios for the most elite military in the world. Their radios are durable, dependable, and innovative, which means they have a long useful life to support some of the toughest missions around the globe. I was pleased the DOD heeded my call to eliminate the single-vendor procurement process and allow the healthy competition between applicants that enabled Harris to first win a $3.9 billion contract in April and now receive this $12.7 billion contract. Over the past two years, I have worked with top DOD officials, including former Secretary Hagel, to ensure these critical contracts would be awarded fairly, so we can provide the top-notch equipment our dedicated men and women serving overseas need and deserve,” said U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer.
“This is a huge win for Rochester manufacturing that just a few years ago would have been impossible. I’m proud to have changed the law to create a level playing field for companies like Harris and finally end the Army’s no bid contracts to give every company the chance to succeed. Harris’ success is having a ripple effect on the economy across the entire region. We need to build on this progress by passing a budget that gives the Army the resources it needs so it can bid out these radios and support the radio programs that are helping make these new Rochester jobs a reality,” said Congresswoman Slaughter.
While at Harris, Schumer and Slaughter announced their push to secure over $292 million in funding for the Army in this year’s federal Fiscal Year 2017 appropriations bill. Schumer and Slaughter explained that the Army needs to secure this funding in order to purchase the first traunch of Handheld Rifleman and Manpack radios. The lawmakers are pushing to secure this funding on the heels of the Army’s selection of Harris Corporation last month as a supplier for the Army’s 10-year $12.7 billion Manpack radio contract, as well as its selection of Harris in April 2015 as a supplier for the Army’s five-year $3.9 billion Handheld Rifleman radio contract.
Harris’ win to supply radios under these two multi-billion dollar contracts followed years of work by Schumer and Slaughter to reverse the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DOD) then-proposed plan to award these contracts to just one company, through a sole-source, single-vender procurement process. The lawmakers said the single-vendor selection process would have created an unfair playing field for all vendors, including Harris, to compete. Schumer and Slaughter fought to ensure a fully open, multi-year, multi-vendor and competitive acquisition process was instituted, so all manufacturers, including Harris, would have a level playing field to compete to win these contracts. The lawmakers argued that the competition from a fully competitive, multi-vendor process would ensure taxpayers’ get the best-priced radios and the military gets the most technologically advanced radios throughout the life of the contracts. The lawmakers celebrated these contracts during their visit today, and said that, in light of the company’s record of success and achievement, Harris would be well-poised to compete to produce these radios throughout the life of these contracts (5 and 10 years) as well as position Harris to increase jobs here in Rochester.
Third, Schumer and Slaughter announced the new Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System “SINCGARS” radio manufacturing line has officially been installed at the Jefferson Road facility in Rochester. Schumer and Slaughter said the line is now operational at Harris’ Rochester facility and supporting 150 local jobs, including 50 new jobs so far. Harris consolidated and moved this line from out of state to Rochester with the support of the Senator and Congresswoman, following the company’s acquisition of Exelis in 2015.
Finally, Schumer and Slaughter said today that, in order to support overall operations and growth, Harris is seeking to hire approximately 100 new workers to fill various positions across the company, including well-paying engineering and professional positions. The lawmakers said the completion of this new SINCGARS line, along with the upcoming Rifleman and Manpack productions, will further ensure Harris is a global leader in military telecommunications and a jobs-leader in the Rochester-Finger Lakes area. Specifically, right now Harris is advertising to hire these 100 new workers, which will add to the company’s total workforce numbers of 3,950 employees.
Schumer and Slaughter were joined by Harris Corporation CEO William Brown, as well as many of Harris’ employees.
"The Manpack program award and consolidation of the SINCGARS manufacturing operations represent significant milestones in Harris’ mission to enhance our warfighters’ capabilities, and further strengthen our presence in the Rochester area,” said William M. Brown, chairman, president and chief executive officer. “Everyone at Harris greatly appreciates Senator Schumer’s and Representative Slaughter’s personal efforts to help make these important accomplishments possible.”
On February 26, 2016, Schumer and Slaughter announced the Army had selected Harris along with two other manufacturers, General Dynamics and Rockwell Collins, to produce the Army’s next-generation Manpack radio under the 10-year, $12.7 billion Tactical Network Radio Systems Handheld, Manpack, Small Form Fit (HMS) program. Over the next 10 years, the Army will seek funding from Congress in order to issue multiple purchase orders for a total of 60,296 Manpack radios. Harris and the other two selected manufacturers will compete on each purchase order. Similarly, in April 2015, the Army selected two companies, Harris and Thales, to manufacture over 150,000 handheld Rifleman under a five-year, $3.9 billion contract that will see each company compete for the multiple purchase orders placed by the Army over the next five years.
Schumer and Slaughter today began their push to secure this funding. Currently, the Army is seeking over $292 million in the upcoming Fiscal Year 2017 federal appropriations bill to fully fund the purchase the first 4,186 Rifleman radios and the first 1,470 Manpack radios. Additionally, the Army is seeking $37 million for the procurement and the continued research and development of the Mid-tier Networking Vehicular Radio (MNVR) program, another radio under development by Harris, in the Fiscal Year 2017 federal appropriations bill. Specifically, this week Schumer, in his individual letter to Senate appropriators, urged federal appropriators to provide full funding for the Army’s request. Furthermore, in a joint letter to the Appropriations Committee lead by Senator Schumer, and signed by Senator Blumenthal, Senator Brown and Senator Nelson they all reinforced their support to fully fund the Army’s Handheld and Manpack (HMS), Mid-Tier Networking Vehicular Radio (MNVR), and U.S. Special Operations Command’s Tactical Communications (STC) radio programs.
Similarly, Slaughter recently asked House appropriators to provide full funding for the U.S. Special Operations Command’s tactical radio modernization program in Fiscal Year 2017. Slaughter noted that modernizing tactical networks is a top priority for the Department of Defense, including programs that make these new radios possible. Slaughter highlighted the importance of providing the funding necessary for these critical priorities to ensure the safety of our soldiers and the success of their missions.
In addition to announcing their push to securing funding for the Army’s procurement for the first traunch of Rifleman and Manpack radios, the lawmakers announced Harris has now completed the installation and begun operation of a second manufacturing line to produce SINCGARS radios at its Jefferson Road facility. This is now supporting 150 local jobs, including 50 new jobs so far. With Harris’ acquisition of Exelis last year, Schumer and Slaughter urged Harris to expand in Rochester. Schumer organized a meeting in his Rochester Regional Office to bring Harris officials together with state economic development representatives for the first time in order secure this new SINCGAR production line, and Rep. Slaughter wrote to state officials in support of the plan.
Both the Rifleman and Manpack radios provide next-generation radio capabilities, including simultaneous voice, data and video communications so that soldiers can communicate across multiple platforms whether they are using the handheld Rifleman version of the radio or the larger Manpack version that can be mounted in a vehicle carried in a rucksack.