WARFIGHTERS AND WAVEFORMS: JTRS PROGRAM WORKS TO BALANCE BOTH CURRENT AND FUTURE NEEDS
By Scott R. Gourley
Against a background of milestones, continuing accomplishments, and changes within the JTRS program, government and industry planners are working to balance immediate warfighter communications needs with near term networking capabilities. While a myriad companies used the October Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) annual meeting to highlight their own recent achievements and capabilities in this finely balanced arena, some excellent representative examples of these ongoing activities were found at Boeing, Harris, and ITT.
Ralph Moslener, Program Director for the Boeing JTRS Ground Mobile Radio (GMR), provided an AUSA briefing to spotlight the current status surrounding that program activity. Significantly, the update also emphasized a number of programmatic marketing points with both veiled and direct comparisons to other possibly competing radio applications.
Moslener explained that GMR development is “nearing completion,” and has moved from “pre engineering development” to “engineering development models” of the four channel radio.
“We have just about finished the design activities,” he said. “The operating environment software, which makes the radio run, is much like ‘Windows.’ And the code has been frozen for the final version of that. All of the waveforms have been frozen with the exception of SRW [Soldier Radio Waveform], which will happen very shortly. And we are getting ready to enter the testing phase of the program.”
The testing phase will begin with contractor testing, followed by government testing, leading up to a planned ‘Milestone C’ decision in the first quarter of calendar year 2011.
“The radio that we produce meets user requirements. That means that as the contract was let, and as it has evolved over time, the radio has to meet a set of government requirements. At the ‘Tier Zero’ [Performance Requirements Document (PRD)] level that’s about 2000 requirements, which is about four tie what the entire FCS program had to meet at the Tier Zero level. Then our requirements filter down from there to where there about 40,000 requirements that we have to meet,” Moslener said.
“So when you hear that ‘other options as far as hardware meet the JTRS requirement’ it is highly unlikely that they do that,” he cautioned, urging briefing attendees to “make ‘apples to apples’ comparisons of what they really bring to the table.”
Moslener went on to highlight the spectrum of command and control “needs” that have been identified by Army Brigade Combat Team (BCT) commanders, including Mobility (C2 on the move + network tailoring); Security (multiple independent levels of security); Flexibility (configuration to support the mission); Quality of Service (making sure that the right message gets through); Network Efficiency / Network Management (including speed and latency); Reliability; Network-Enabled Productivity; Cross banding (“breaking the boundaries of spectrum and hardware”); and Usability (ease of network entry and exit).
“So we have looked at some of those capabilities with the current force, or ‘legacy’ capabilities, to see how they stack up,” he noted. “And in most cases there are bandwidth limitations. Primarily, for what they were designed for, they work pretty good. But a JTRS GMR that is running both WNW and SRW waveforms is able to do all of that.”
“We are a system that allows connectivity to the Global Information Grid – voice, video and data,” he added. “We have already hooked up to a UAV in an ad hoc manner down at Ft. Huachuca. There was a bird in the air. We asked if we could look into [the capability]. We did that. And we were able to take that UAV video data and transmit it out to other vehicles that were equipped with the GMR running WNW. We can also do routing and retransmission so we can get the information in on one waveform and put it out on another waveform.