Services discuss JTRS consolidation

Top acquisition officials for the Navy and Air Force are meeting today to discuss combining their service's portions of the Joint Tactical Radio System — the military's future radio that will operate across the spectrum.

John Young, assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition, and Marvin Sambur, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, will discuss the technological problems of merging JTRS Cluster 3, the maritime and fixed radio and JTRS Cluster 4, the airborne radio. The two services may combine them because of acquisition and affordability issues, said Ken Kato, speaking Oct. 29 at the 2003 Vision Conference of the Government Electronics and IT Association (GEIA). Kato led the Air Force's 2004-2014 budget forecast for Government Electronics and Information Technology Association (GEIA), an industry lobby group located in Arlington, Va.

Air Force officials had asked companies by Oct. 14 to submit proposals for the JTRS airborne's presystem development and demonstration phase. But the service put the acquisition on hold, said Kato, who works for Rockwell Collins Inc. The Navy and the Air Force could get the software-defined JTRS radios faster and save hundreds of millions of dollars if they merge their programs. The Air Force's JTRS Cluster totals $2.1 billion, said Kato, whose company headquartered in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is one of the two hardware suppliers for the Army's JTRS Cluster 1 program.

The Defense Department in June 2001 awarded Boeing Co. a contract worth more than $2 billion to design the wideband networking waveform for the new radio system and oversee manufacturing of the Army's JTRS Cluster 1 vehicular and airborne radios. Boeing originally said it will deliver the first JTRS radio in August 2004, but service and industry officials now expect the delivery in December of next year.

The military owns more than 750,000 radios from 25 different makes and models. Defense officials hope JTRS will decrease those numbers while increasing radio functionality.

JTRS devices will be defined largely by software, which allows for easier updates for new applications, and means the radio casings can be used again instead of thrown away.

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