JTRS SQUEEZED ON ALL FRONTS
By Julian Nettlefold, Editor BATTLESPACE
15 Feb 06. In our October AUSA Special Issue, we covered a media briefing by Maj. Gen. Steven Boutelle, the U.S. Army’s Communications supreme. 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.
Since that time 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 urgent needs Raytheon Company and ITT announced during AUSA 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.
“Is this move signalling that your two companies are meeting JTRS head on?” BATTLESPACE Editor Julian Nettlefold asked.
“We see this move as meeting an urgent requirement from our customers,” John Kirkwood of ITT told BATLESPACE. “These radios can be supplied within existing requirements as technology enhancements, thus the need for complex new procurements are ruled out, making the process, quicker, easier and cheaper.”
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.
“We estimate that we can deliver in12-18 months once the button is pushed, “ Kirwkood continued, “The ASIP-E has a Side Hat for which we are already fitting the bhooks on the latest run of SINCGARS.”
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,” said Jerry Powlen, Raytheon vice president of Integrated Communications Systems. “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.”
“This is a watershed event for warfighters,” said Lou Dollive, president of ITT Aerospace/Communications Division. “MicroLight-3G and ASIP-E establish a migration strategy that can put emerging JTRS capabilities in the hands of deployed forces far sooner th