JTRS soldier contract delayed

The Army postponed the award of the handheld, backpack and wearable devices' contract for the Joint Tactical Radio System, according to military and industry officials.

Army acquisition officials will meet April 26 to review the program. The service will not award the contract until after the meeting, said Tim Rider, spokesman for the Fort Monmouth, N.J.-based Program Executive Office-Command, Control and Communications-Tactical, which manages the initiative. Industry officials had expected the contract award in mid-March. Military officials said it would occur in April.

JTRS devices are designed to replace the military's disparate radios with a unified standard that can be customized for each service. The military owns more than 750,000 radios of 25 makes and models, many of which are incompatible.

DOD officials hope the new systems will decrease those numbers and increase radio functionality by operating across the spectrum from 2MHz to 2GHz. JTRS radio abilities will be defined largely by software, which should make updates easier for new applications and allow radio casings to be used more than once.

ITT Industries Inc. in Fort Wayne, Ind., and General Dynamics Corp. in Falls Church, Va., led industry teams and submitted proposals for JTRS Cluster 5, said officials on both teams. The Cluster 5 program will produce in 2005 the first JTRS software-defined radio, said Air Force Col. Steven MacLaird, director of the JTRS Joint Program Office in Washington, D.C.

The military divided the JTRS program into categories called clusters:

Cluster 1: Army air and ground vehicles.

Cluster 2: Special Operations Command systems.

Cluster 5: Three Army devices.

AMF: the Air Force and Navy airborne/maritime-fixed stations.

The Air Force and the Navy in November combined their JTRS programs, called Clusters 3 and 4. Military officials expect Cluster 1 and 2 radios to be ready in 2007, and AMF in 2009.

The Army awarded a contract in 2001 to an industry team led by Boeing Co. in Chicago to develop the JTRS architecture and build radios for Army air and ground vehicles.

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