WEST 2012: JTRS HIGHLIGHTS ACHIVEMENTS
By Scott R. Gourley
Held in San Diego, California, January 24-26, 2012, ‘West 2012’ – co-sponsored by the Armed Forces Communications Electronics Association (AFCEA) and United States Naval Institute (USNI) – focused on the theme, ‘America’s Military at the Crossroads: What’s Out and What’s In for 2012 and Beyond?’
Reflective of that theme, representatives from the US Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) Joint Program Executive Office (JPEO) used the West 2012 venue to highlight status, recent program achievements, and upcoming challenges across the JTRS Enterprise Business Model.
According to Captain Jeff Hoyle, USN, JPEO JTRS Industry Engagement Manager, the JTRS model provides an excellent example of “How to buy technology faster.” a goal increasingly sought across Department of Defense arenas.
“The JTRS Enterprise Business Model is essentially like an ‘App Store,’” Hoyle explained. “It was an ‘App Store’ before Apple made ‘App Stores’ cool. We call our app store the JTRS Information Repository. And we have very specific types of applications – tactical networking applications – both for Joint and Coalition forces. Those tactical networking applications are housed in software in the JTRS Information Repository. The vendors you see around the room here want to integrate those applications into their radios for sale back to the DoD components and services. They can get access to those applications and integrate them into their radios – and have done so in significant numbers.”
“Our most successful application – our ‘Killer App’ if you will – to date has been the Soldier Radio Waveform,” he said. “That Soldier Radio Waveform was developed using government funding and was developed over a period of about a decade – it takes a long time to develop a tactical networking application that can be used in the field. It started out as a DARPA [Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency] project, called SLICE [Soldier Level Integrated Communications Environment] at one point in its lifetime, and now it’s called Soldier Radio Waveform. It has been hardened for use in the field and it has been used in the field. And today I can tell you that it is actually in Afghanistan, with an Army Ranger battalion, on [JTRS] HMS [Handheld, Manpack, Small form factor] handheld radios.”
“Not only did we develop the Soldier Radio Waveform, we acquired the government purpose rights to allow us to share that with any vendor or radio developer that has a legitimate U.S. Government purpose and we have done so,” he said.
“What that has allowed us to do is expand the scope of the competitive environment for available Soldier Radio Waveform implementing radios,” he added. “So, instead of just having Program Of Record radios that existed and were paid for by the government, developed by the government, and we essentially had to go back to that contract to buy those radios that we developed, we allowed industry to get access to that application, integrate it and innovate it into their hardware products, and then make those available for sale. By doing that we have expanded the ‘competitive base,’ if you will, for Soldier Radio Waveform capable radios by about three-fold, with no additional investment. The only additional investment that we’re making is in giving that software out to those vendors that have a legitimate government purpose. And many of them have gone through the process; integrated it; and have actually demonstrated that they can take the software from our application store and integrate it into their products more quickly than we can pay a vendor to integrate it into our products in a government Program Of Record. And because that portion of our business model has been so successful, that gives DoD and the services other options for how to procure those radios.”
Turning to the JTRS Ground Mobile Radio, Hoyle offered, “Many of you may have heard that we are no longer buying Ground Mobil