JTRS must satisfy NSA info security criteria

The National Security Agency has imposed extensive information security criteria on the development of the long-delayed and over budget Joint Tactical Radio Systems program, which the Pentagon recently restructured, a top official at a JTRS contactor said.

Chris Brady, vice president for assured communications at General Dynamics C4 Systems, said a Defense Acquisition Board memo released this week on the restructuring of JTRS does not reflect the new NSA information security criteria. Those requirements are a significant change for the program.

General Dynamics is developing handheld, manpack small-form-fit (HMS) radios for the military services and the Special Operations Command. The company had to incorporate the new NSA standards into its designs in the past year, Brady said.

The company was able to incorporate the requirements into its radio designs early in the process and did not need to significantly revise its work, he said.

General Dynamics had to tweak hardware and software to ensure that the JTRS radios complied with stringent NSA Type I and Type II information security requirements to protect battlefield communications, Brady said. He declined to provide details.

Satisfying NSA’s requirements is a rigorous process in which companies must consider every design detail to receive certification, Brady said. All JTRS radios developed through the recently streamlined program will have to conform to the agency’s requirements, he added.

Ken Krieg, undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, issued a board memo March 31 that simplified the structure of the JTRS program, which hit $32 billion in total development and fielding costs last year.

That memo, released this week, states that JTRS’ top priority should be developing a networking capability, originally conceived in the late 1990s to develop software radios that communicate on a wide range of frequencies at data rates as high as 2 megabits/sec.

DOD planned to have about 180,000 JTRS software-defined radios replace 750,000 aging battlefield radios. The Army views JTRS as a main networking component of its next-generation Future Combat Systems architecture.

Krieg’s memo calls for JTRS to focus on development of three main software waveforms: a high data rate Wideband Networking Waveform; the Soldier Radio Waveform, which will be used in HMS radios that General Dynamics is developing; and a Joint Airborne Network-Tactical Edge Waveform.

The board, Krieg’s memo states, agreed with a management plan for JTRS that the JTRS Joint Program Executive Office at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command issued.

The office will develop JTRS radios in three domains: Ground; Airborne, Fixed and Maritime (AMF); and Network Enterprise. The ground domain includes HMS and vehicular radios, while AMF will provide radios for aircraft, shops and fixed sites. The networking domain will provide waveforms and gateways for common networking services.


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