JTRS cluster snafu

Since word leaked that Defense Department officials told Boeing they might tear up the aerospace giant's contract on the Joint Tactical Radio System Cluster 1 program, the Interceptors have been talking to sources and racking our brains to come up with a way to save the program.

We hear the Navy's Dennis Bauman, who now leads the JTRS effort, is expected to share his views any day now on how best to proceed.

He has a couple of obvious options: ditch Boeing or work with the company on scaled-down versions of the radio and field it to troops in spirals, the Pentagon's latest acquisition buzzword.

A more likely outcome is that Baumann, who DOD chief information officer Linton Wells said has free rein to run JTRS as he sees fits, will split delivery of Cluster 1 radios into two parts: one for Army ground vehicles and the other for aircraft.

That would mean the Pentagon could put the contract back out for bid.

We hear three companies are already chomping at the bit, looking forward to the potential opportunities.

JTRS issues 101

We wondered what DOD and Boeing officials meant when they said the JTRS Cluster 1 radio has size, weight and power issues given that Col. Nick Justice, an Army acquisition chief, said "the original design cannot do all the capacity."

So the Interceptors asked someone who helped write the Cluster 1 proposal for Raytheon, which lost its bid to Boeing. He said the problems are on the transmitter side of the radio.

The radio guru said the power amps use 20-year-old technology for single-channel, narrow-frequency bands and they can't handle the load of the JTRS multichannel multibands.

"If you put 2 kilowatts in and 100 watts go out, you need to dissipate a lot of power, and that shows up as heat," he said.

The radios must really be hot.

More leaks

A leaked report published by Rand, "Iraq: Translating Lessons Into Future DOD Policies," didn't get as much coverage as the internal Army report about the Stryker armored vehicle, but it voices similar concerns about the service's reliance on digital systems.

"Be cautious with respect to Army transformation plans that move to lightly armored vehicles and heavy reliance on networked information systems, given the difficulty in translating good sensor coverage of the battlefield into situational awareness," wrote James Thomson, Rand's president and chief executive officer, in the report's cover letter.

A spokesman for Rand said the report was written for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld because he and Thomson are friends. But Rummy must have liked the report's findings because, in one of his infamous snowflake memos to the service secretaries and chiefs of staff, he wrote, "Attached are some recommendations from Rand that are worth careful consideration."

We were encouraged to learn that the company did the report on its own dime. The Pentagon doesn't need to be funding more studies.

DOD CIO magna charter

A reliable source in the DOD CIO's office tells us the charter of the CIO Executive Board is being changed. Strategic Command, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence are being added to the membership.

Adding Strategic Command and DIA makes sense, because both are getting more involved in the purchase of DOD information technology.

But we're not sure about Stephen Cambone's office. Maybe there's some truth to the rumors that the CIO's office could get folded into the intelligence office.

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