GAO denies JTRS protest

General Accountability Office auditors denied a protest filed by ITT Industries Inc. officials about the Army's contract award in July to General Dynamics Corp. to design the soldier-wearable version of the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS).

Officials at the Army's Communication-Electronics Command Acquisition Center acted on the ruling Oct. 21 by lifting the stop work order on the JTRS Cluster 5 contract, which had been in effect since July 28, according to an Oct. 22 service statement.

"Soldiers need these radios for interoperability, networking and the increased throughput to keep ahead of the changing threat," said Army Lt. Col. Richard Housewright, product manager for the JTRS Cluster 5 program, in the statement. "We look forward to starting work and providing these capabilities as soon as possible."

Army leaders awarded a $295 million contract July 16 worth up to $1.4 billion to General Dynamics for the system development and demonstration phase of the JTRS Cluster 5 program. The contract provides for the creation of small, lightweight, software-defined radios for use by all warfighters in the military.

Company officials will modify commercial radio products and develop a two-channel JTRS radio carried by soldiers in a backpack, called Spiral 1. They then will design a one- and two-channel handheld JTRS radio and a variant, called Spiral 2, according to a July 19 service statement.

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 2 MHz to 2 GHz. 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.

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