JTRS heads for spiral development

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The Defense Department will develop the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) in increments to get some of the transformational capabilities of the radio that works like a computer to warfighters as soon as possible.

DOD will announce the new spiral development plan in an acquisition decision memorandum. The department is working on the memo, which should be released soon, said Ralph Moslener, JTRS program manager at Boeing, during an interview yesterday at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual winter conference. The company is overseeing development of the JTRS architecture, the new wideband networking waveform and the Cluster 1 ground vehicular radio.

Moslener expects at least two increments of JTRS. He said he is “pretty sure” the first radio will include the voice Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System (SINCGARS), the data Enhanced Position Locating and Reporting System (EPLRS), and the wideband networking waveforms. Boeing demonstrated the wideband networking waveform here. It provides voice, video, data, messaging, chat and teleconferencing capabilities simultaneously.

Moslener said the Cluster 1 program is making progress. Hardware exists and is in operation, he said. Boeing and its partner have loaded eight waveforms on the radio, he added.

Boeing has delivered seven developmental JTRS Cluster 1 radios to the Army for testing in the Future Combat System and will provide more by this summer. DOD owns about 750,000 tactical radios, many of which cannot communicate or be upgraded.

JTRS will eventually allow warfighters to operate 10 waveforms on one radio, and users can easily exchange them for the other 14 via software upgrades. The radio’s software architecture allows for easy uploading and reuse of its hardware casing.

Boeing won the JTRS Cluster 1 contract in 2001. But the program came under scrutiny last year when DOD issued the company a stop-work order and threatened a contract termination because of the slow development of the radio.

Raytheon and ITT may be tempting DOD to buy and field a JTRS-like radio by this summer. The two companies announced yesterday that they are collaborating to build the SINCGARS Advanced Improvement Program-Enhanced (ASIP-E) and the MicroLight-3G. The handheld vehicular radios will run Raytheon’s EPLRS and ITT’s SINCGARS and JTRS soldier radio waveform. The hardware can be reused.

“MicroLight-3G and ASIP-E establish a migration strategy that can put emerging JTRS capabilities in the hands of deployed forces far sooner than we previously anticipated,” said Lou Dollive, president of ITT Aerospace/Communications Division, in a statement.

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