Army sets April target for JTRS award

Army officials expect a contract to build wearable and handheld devices for the Joint Tactical Radio System to be awarded by April.

Defense Department officials expect JTRS to become the military's future radio system. It is divided into five program and contract segments called clusters.

The Cluster 5 program by 2005 will produce the Army soldier systems as the first JTRS software-defined radios in the military, said Air Force Col. Steven MacLaird, director of the JTRS Joint Program Office, speaking Jan. 21 at the Network Centric Warfare 2004 conference. ITT Industries, located in Fort Wayne, N.J., and General Dynamics Inc., located in Falls Church, Va., submitted proposals for the JTRS Cluster 5 contract. ITT's team members are Harris Corp., located in Melbourne, Fla., and Boeing Co., located in Chicago. General Dynamics team members are BAE SYSTEMS, located in Wayne, N.J., Rockwell Collins, located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Thales, located in Alexandria, Va., according to an industry official.

Currently, the military owns more than 750,000 radios of 25 makes and models, many of which cannot talk to each other. Military officials hope the new systems will decrease those numbers and increase radio functionality. JTRS devices will be defined largely by software, which should make updates easier for new applications and allow radio casings to be used more than once.

Cluster 1, which will produce a system for Army air and ground vehicles, has encountered size, weight and cooling problems, MacLaird said. The Army will now field the radio in 2007, he said. Cluster 2 radio, which will yield a handheld system for Special Operations Command forces, will also be ready in 2007, MacLaird said.

Officials from the Air Force and the Navy recently agreed to merge their JTRS Clusters 3 and 4, and had been expected during the week of Jan. 19 to release a request for proposals for the JTRS aircraft/maritime fixed system called AMF, MacLaird said. However, it's unclear whether the RFP had actually been issued.

Defense officials expect the Air Force and Navy to field the radio by 2009, MacLaird said.

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