Army awards deal for joint tactical radios

The Army's Communications-Electronics Command (Cecom) recently awarded Cubic Corp. a contract worth up to $14 million to develop an interoperable waveform, or signal, supporting the Defense Department's Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS).

JTRS uses software-centric radios that can be programmed to patch users into various radio frequencies. Radios in use today were designed to work in a specific frequency range, and each of the military services has used its own frequency. Joint tactical radios can be programmed for any waveform in use today or that might be developed in the future.

Cecom awarded the 18-month, $6.2 million contract on Dec. 12, 2002, and work began that day on the development of waveform software that will help all branches of the military and several public agencies communicate with one another, according to a spokeswoman for San Diego-based Cubic.

Cubic's software will be in compliance with Association of Public Safety Communications Officials Project 25 requirements, which were established for the use of digital technology in modern two-way radio communications, the spokeswoman said, adding that the contract is worth up to $14 million if all options are exercised.

Col. Michael Cox, deputy director of the JTRS Joint Program Office, said there are about 750,000 different radios in use throughout the Defense Department that are not compatible. He compared the new software-defined radios to desktop computers onto which users can load different programs and quickly begin reaping the benefits.

Users can program JTRS radios to work with waveforms of current radios, making Channel One available for communications in the 30 MHz to 88 MHz communications range and Channel Two for satellite communications, Cox said.

Gerald Dinkel, president and chief executive officer of Cubic Defense Applications group, said JTRS is "arguably one of the most important military communications programs today," because it will empower the armed services to communicate with other public-sector agencies for homeland security and defense issues.

JTRS radios are based on a common Software Communication Architecture (SCA) that ensures interoperability — or compatibility — with current and future systems. Future radios will use SCA-compliant hardware to run a variety of software-based waveforms for the particular communications format a radio is designed to use, according to the Cubic spokeswoman.

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