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[infowar.de] Boeing bekommt Auftrag fuer Joint Tactical Radio System
Boeing gets the call for DOD radio
Software-based systems will eliminate incompatibilities among services
BY Dan Caterinicchia
July 1, 2002
The Army last week awarded Boeing Co. an $856 million contract to
spearhead the development and initial production of the first generation
of joint tactical radios, which will open the lines of communications
among the military services.
The Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) uses software-centric radios
that can be programmed to patch users into various radio frequencies.
Radios in use today were designed to work in a specific frequency range,
with each service using its own frequency.
Take a situation in which an Army sergeant, burrowed in his foxhole,
needs air support from an Air Force fighter jet and radios in his
Normally, communicating that information would take minutes and require
a middleman because the Army and Air Force radios operate on
incompatible systems and different frequencies. JTRS is aimed at making
that Army call go directly to the Air Force pilot.
"There are about 750,000 radios in the [Defense Department] today that
were basically developed in stovepipes," said Col. Michael Cox, deputy
director of the JTRS Joint Program Office. "JTRS is a basic change to
Cox likened the new software-defined radios to desktop computers on
which users can load different programs and quickly begin reaping the
In the case of radios, the focus is on waveforms ? that is, the
particular signal format a radio is designed to read. Unlike traditional
radios, which have been hard-wired to receive particular waveforms,
joint tactical radios can be programmed for any waveform in use today or
any that might be developed in the future.
Users can program JTRS radios to work with waveforms of current radios,
making Channel One available for communications in the 30 MHz to 88 MHz
communications range and Channel Two for satellite communications, Cox
"You can then connect the two channels for functionality that has never
been there in radios before," he said. "You can load the waveforms and
tie into the legacy radios and crossband or connect the different radios
John Pike, a former defense analyst at the Federation of American
Scientists and now director of the nonprofit GlobalSecurity.org, said
that when JTRS is fielded, "it's going to represent a major improvement
in battlefield communications."
He said the security concerns normally associated with wireless
communications on the battlefield are not really issues with JTRS
because "the military has decades of experience in radio communications
security and encryption and key management."
DOD officials worked with more than 30 partners from industry and
academia to develop the software communications architecture that
enables the waveforms to be loaded into JTRS, Cox said.
"What's clear is that the Army, like the rest of the services, is
moving toward the network-centric strategy of warfighting, which means
fewer people covering more ground and being more effective through the
sharing of information," said Jack Spencer, a defense analyst with the
Heritage Foundation, a Washington, D.C., think tank. "JTRS advances that
Spencer said JTRS would enhance the "interconnectedness" of all
elements of the combat force, though he acknowledged that such a goal is
many years away. He added that the foundation of DOD's ongoing
transformation efforts is a joint command, control and intelligence
infrastructure, which JTRS should also contribute to.
JTRS units could also support homeland security applications, Cox said,
noting that the program is open to other government agencies. The second
phase of JTRS development, or Cluster 2, which will focus on special
forces and warfighters, would be the most logical fit for those homeland
Boeing will be responsible for designing and integrating the JTRS
architecture, integrating existing waveforms and developing a new
wideband networking waveform.
According to Boeing, the system development and demonstration phase
should last nearly four years, with early operational testing expected
during the summer of 2004 and low-rate initial production expected to
begin in 2005.
Just the beginning
The Joint Tactical Radio System will replace existing radios with
software-programmable devices, enabling the different services to
communicate. Radios will be delivered in four clusters:
Cluster 1: Radios on ground vehicles and rotary wing aircraft.
Cluster 2: Handheld radios.
Cluster 3: Maritime radios.
Cluster 4: Air-based radios.
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