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By Julian Nettlefold, Editor, BATTLESPACE

15 Feb 06. In our October AUSA Special Issue, we covered a media briefing by Lt. Gen. Steven Boutelle, the U.S. Army’s Communications supremo. Lieutenant General Steven W. Boutelle has been the Department of the Army Staff’s chief information officer/G6 since 2003.

The key point of his brief was one of standards, he said that it made sense to be standards based—not standardization, but standards. Everyone does not have to have the same device. “The decision to make IP a standard, although not the most efficient protocol, allowed us to quickly grow the transport network globally, from the fiber infrastructure, to the existing DISN, to the Teleports and into the commercial and military satellite worlds. The Army is looking at four standards: XML, WSDL, UDTI and SOAP,” he said

In this brief he said that JTRS would not be replacing all the systems currently in service but would more likely serve the high-end requirement, particularly the WNW requirement for the management of the network. However, less JTRS radios, meant a higher unit cost, thus a balance had to be achieved.

He went on to say that the next move was to get information directly to the soldier. The DoD is buying at least 400,000 ITT SINCGARS radios over the next few years, therefore it make sense to use this radio to build on this requirement.

Thus there has been considerable pressure from the military following experiences in Iraq to spiral forward procurement of new radios rather than wait for JTRS.

To meet these challenges, Raytheon Company and ITT announced during AUSA in February that they are collaborating on two new, highly affordable software communication systems, the MicroLight-3G and the Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio Advanced Improvement Program- Enhanced (SINCGARS ASIP-E).

The new products share common modules, waveform capabilities and operating environments. Pre-production units for user evaluation will be available later this year.

However with the combination of these two radios and existing systems such as the Raytheon Microlight 2G, chosen for the LandWarrior requirement, and of which 200 have been delivered, EPLRS of which some 14000 are in service, SINCGARS has fielded 173,000 units with 83,000 more on order, creates a formidable position to build on.

Raytheon’s MicroLight-3G is a wearable, software-defined radio that will improve military communication by linking individual warfighters to a Tactical Internet. ITT brings its Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW) to MicroLight-3G. The SRW upgrade complements the wearable radio’s already available Enhanced Position Locating and Reporting System (EPLRS) waveform. The SRW’s addition to MicroLight means that soldiers can send and receive secure communication, information and intelligence from all locations, including urban “canyons.” MicroLight-3G is a derivative of the 2G model, now fielded as part of the Army’s LandWarrior program.

ITT’s new SINCGARS ASIP-E adds “Side Hat,” a small ultra high frequency (UHF) expansion module, to the current SINCGARS ASIP configuration. The expansion module also contains the SRW and EPLRS waveforms so that the resulting SINCGARS ASIP-E offers very high frequency voice and UHF data communication channels for vehicular and manpack operations. This allows mounted soldiers to conduct both voice and data communications simultaneously — a capability extension that gives them immediate updates to command and control information and improves their ability to make critical decisions on the battlefield.

MicroLight-3G, with Raytheon’s EPLRS and ITT’s new SRW, is a wideband capability that we can deliver on an accelerated schedule to our troops. Additionally, the MicroLight-3G will be capable of interoperating with future JTRS platforms and is designed to embrace new technology as it comes on line

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