Army hires General Dynamics for JTRS

An industry team led by General Dynamics Corp. will design the Army's soldier-wearable Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS).

On July 16, Army officials awarded a $295 million contract to General Dynamics to modify commercial radio products and develop a two-channel JTRS radio carried by soldiers in a backpack, called Spiral 1. Company officials then will design a one and a two-channel handheld JTRS radio and a small, form-fit variant, called Spiral 2, according to a July 19 service statement.

General Dynamics beat out an industry team led by ITT Industries Inc. The Army will use the soldier-wearable JTRS radio with its future forces, the statement said.

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.

Defense Department 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.

Military officials 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.

Army officials delayed their contract award, called JTRS Cluster 5, for five months after reviewing the program this spring.

Officials from 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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