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[Discuss-gnuradio] FCW: JTRS: Boeing gets the call for DOD radio

From: John Gilmore
Subject: [Discuss-gnuradio] FCW: JTRS: Boeing gets the call for DOD radio
Date: Wed, 08 Jan 2003 22:37:26 -0800

[Does anybody have any technical specs on these radios?  Clearly,
commercial development of similar stuff for civilians or human rights
workers could piggyback on the parts produced in volume for
these military radios.  --gnu]


  Boeing gets the call for DOD radio

  Software-based systems will eliminate incompatibilities among services

BY Dan Caterinicchia <mailto:address@hidden>
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 position.

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 
that concept."

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 said.

"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 idea."

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 
security missions.

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.

"Wireless on the battlefield" 
[Federal Computer Week, May 27, 2002]

"Firms added to Army FCS mix" 
[FCW.com, June 20, 2002]

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