The US military’s JTRS program began in the late 1990s as an attempt to unify its underlying communications infrastructure. The program was visionary – and very ambitious. Ongoing requirements creep was thrown into the mix, and the result was major delays and cost overruns that eventually led to the complete restructuring of the program.
The part of the program that aimed to create radios for aircraft and ships – the Airborne, Maritime/ Fixed Station Joint Tactical Radio System (AMF JTRS) – saw pre-system development and demonstration contracts issued to Team Boeing (Boeing, BBN Technologies, Harris, L-3 Communications, Milcom Systems Corporation, Northrop Grumman, Rockwell Collins) and to Team Lockheed (Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon) back in 2004, with an extension in 2006 that brought the totals to about $75 million each. Team Lockheed won the $766.2 million AMF JTRS development contract in March 2008.
AMF JTRS: Platforms and Prognosis
The idea behind JTRS was to create a family of radios for troops, vehicles, ships, et. al. that all shared a similar underlying architecture, could use Internet Protocol for data, and was a “software-defined” platform that relied on software rather than hardware to handle communication protocols. This would eliminate the Iraqi war phenomenon of multiple radios in each vehicle, in order to let the troops inside talk to various services etc. It would also make the equipment far more “future proof,” by allowing in-place upgrades to extend compatibility with American and foreign systems, add new communications waveforms, etc.
AMF JTRS devices will serve as gateways and provide interoperable voice and data communications for more than 160 platform types including fixed and rotary wing aircraft, submarines and surface ships, and fixed stations world-wide. The March 2008 DefenseLINK announcement specifically mentioned the following weapons system/platforms: USN aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers, and submarines; USMC operated helicopters and fixed wing aircraft; USAF fixed and deployable ground command and control systems; CH-47 Chinook heavy transport helicopters, H-60 Blackhawk family of helicopters, AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, MQ-8B Fire Scout Class IV UAVs, and the C-130 Hercules family of tactical transport aircraft.
Following the award of the $766.2 million AMF JTRS development contract to the Lockheed Martin-led team on March 28/08, the Boeing team said that it would not protest the award. “Following the AMF JTRS debrief, Boeing has decided not to protest the award,” said Boeing spokesman Mike Fanelli in an April 7/08 email sent to Inside the Air Force.
The MIDS terminal program serves as a vehicle for datalink radios that enable the single group-wide tactical picture offered by Link 16. A MIDS-JTRS program is underway to bring MIDS terminals into the JTRS framework. While MIDS-JTRS is related to AMF JTRS in terms of interoperability and execution, it is a separate program and will be the subject of separate contract awards.
May 11/10: Lockheed Martin announces that it has received contract options to purchase additional AMF JTRS equipment. To date, the total for exercised contract options for additional equipment is around $35 million.
Under the current options, exercised by the US Army and the USAF, the Lockheed Martin team will produce more than 150 pieces of equipment, including pre-production Small Airborne radio models, management & control units, power amplifiers and radio ancillaries. This equipment is destined for the first aircraft slated to receive AMF JTRS: the AH-64D Apache, CH-47D Chinook, and UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters; Air Force C-130 AMP and AC-130U fixed wing aircraft; and the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper. The Lockheed Martin team includes BAE Systems, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon.
Feb 25/10: Lockheed Martin announces an award for additional AMF JTRS equipment, to support early integration and testing. The contract will reportedly increase the number of engineering development models (EDM) bought by 60%, and is valued at $17.7 million to the team of Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon.
Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Services-Defense VP, Jim Quinn, says that the option allows the team to deliver AMF-Small Airborne size EDMs concurrently to the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force and AMF JTRS System Integration Labs, which will be used to test the AMF capability for platform specific missions. Platforms slated for early integration include US Army’s AH-64D Apache, CH-47F Chinook, and UH-60M Blackhawk helicopters, as well as US Air Force C-130 AMP Hercules and the Special Forces AC-130U gunship variant.
Jan 11/10: The Lockheed Martin team announces that it received a $29 million modification to the AMF JTRS contract for the porting, integration, and testing of 5 additional waveforms and associated cryptographic algorithms.
These waveforms are: Single Channel Ground-Air Radio System (SINCGARS), HAVEQUICK I/II, VHF FM, UHF line-of-sight AM, and UHF FM/PSK/CPM. These join the waveforms previously under contract to be incorporated into the network: Wideband Networking Waveform (WNW), Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW), Mobile User Objective System (MUOS), UHF SATCOM and Link-16. All waveforms will operate on both the Small Airborne and the Maritime/ Fixed Station Joint Tactical Radios.
Dec 10/09: The Lockheed Martin team announces the completion of the critical design review (CDR) for the AMF JTRS. The CDR represented the capstone of more than 6 months of reviews focused on assessing the AMF JTRS subsystem and system design maturity. Additionally, the review concluded that the AMF JTRS design is on schedule to meet government specifications, according to the Joint Program Executive Office Joint Tactical Radio System (JPEO JTRS).
Sept 19/08: Thales Communications announces its participation on the AMF JTRS team with Lockheed Martin. The Thales HF system solution for AMF JTRS leverages the Series 5000 product line for high-power, fixed station applications, and the ruggedness of the Thales Series 8000 to cope with the demanding environment of the maritime domain.
March 28/08: Lockheed Martin Integrated Systems and Solutions of Chantilly, VA won a $766.2 million contract to design and develop the Airborne and Maritime/ Fixed Station Joint Tactical Radio System. The contractor shall develop 42 engineering development models of the small airborne configured system. While the initial engineering development models for the maritime sets will be configured for destroyers and the small airborne sets generically configured, there are options for additional sets configured for additional waveforms and weapons system platforms.
This contract includes an option for low rate initial production of 45 maritime/fixed stations sets and 104 small airborne sets. Additional options allow for additional sets configured for additional communications waveforms and other weapons systems/platforms. At this time $75.2 million has been committed. Hanscom AFB, MA issued the contract (FA8726-08-C-0008).
March 30/07: Boeing announces that its industry team has submitted its bid to design and develop the Airborne and Maritime/Fixed Station Joint Tactical Radio System (AMF JTRS) for the U.S. Department of Defense.
Jan 26/07: The U.S. Department of Defense releases its Request For Proposals for system design and development of its Airborne and Maritime/ Fixed Station Joint Tactical Radio System (AMF JTRS).
Oct 16/06 Boeing announces a successful Delta Preliminary Design Review of its team’s AMF JTRS solution. The review measured the program’s progress on development specifications, system design, architecture, key component technologies and risk reduction, and is designed to confirm that the team is ready to proceed to the System Design and Development phase. Boeing’s AMF JTRS team displayed mockups of their hardware design and demonstrated prototype radios running both legacy voice communications and the Wideband Networking Waveform (WNW), which enables Internet-like capabilities. Demonstrations ranged from design and development to manufacturing capacity and planning, supply chain management and Interactive Electronic Technical Manual capabilities. The team also provided a multi-node networking demonstration using virtual and hardware-based radios. The lab-based demonstrations also featured the WNW and Boeing’s Heterogeneous Networking capability with legacy and low latency edge networking using Rockwell’s Tactical Targeting Networking Technologies.
Oct 16/06: Lockheed Martin announces that its AMF JTRS team has successfully completed its Pre-System Design & Development (SDD) efforts 1 month ahead of schedule. The kinds of activities undertaken would be similar to the Boeing efforts above. This ends the 3rd and final phase of the team’s Preliminary Design Review (PDR).
April 3/06: Boeing Co. in Miraloma, CA received a $19.4 million cost plus fixed fee contract, in exchange for continuing program risk reduction and design maturation activities around AMF JTRS. At this time, $3.9 million has been obligated. Work will be complete October 2006. The Headquarters Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom Air Force Base, MA issued the contract (FA8709-04-C-0010/P00013).
March 17/06: Lockheed Martin Corp. in Manassas, VA receives a $20.1 million cost plus fixed fee contract, in exchange for continuing program risk reduction and design maturation activities around AMF JTRS. At this time, $4 million has been obligated. Work will be complete October 2006. The Headquarters Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom Air Force Base, MA issued the contract (FA8709-04-C-0011).
June 7/05: Lockheed Martin announces a successful major system design review on the Airborne, Maritime and Fixed Station (AMF) component of the military’s Joint Tactical Radio Systems (JTRS) program. During the review, held from May 17-19/05, the company demonstrated key technologies that comprise the core of its proposed AMF JTRS solution, and laid out its planned architecture and design approach for the system.
Sept 8/04: The Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom Air Force Base, MA issues a pair of cost plus fixed fee contracts for Pre-System Development and Demonstration (Pre-SDD) for the Airborne and Maritime/Fixed Station Joint Tactical Radio System (AMF JTRS). This a a preparatory effort designed to scope out the challenges ahead and reduce development risks. The overall objective of the Pre-SDD effort is to design for the overall AMF JTRS, define key requirements and associated system architectures, and identify key platform interface requirements that will minimize platform integration, operation and support, and future technology insertion costs. This modification incorporates increase of signal power, a change in the generation of civilian signal, and testing and other effort required for the attainment of the final design verification milestone.
Solicitations began February 2004, negotiations were complete August 2004, and work will be complete by December 2005. Winners included:
- The Boeing Co., BMC3&SS in Anaheim, CA ($54.6 million, FA8709-04-C-0010). Boeing’s team actually includes Rockwell (radio design, fixed site radio integration and platform integration support); Harris (radio design, information assurance, maritime radio system integration and platform integration activities); L-3 (maritime platform integration, the control and management subsystem, specific airborne integration and airborne network support); Northrop Grumman (network management). BBN and MILCOM (comprehensive, seamless wireless network architecture and maritime installation support).
- Lockheed Martin Integrated Systems and Solutions in Manassas, VA ($51.4 million, FA8709-04-C-0011). Lockheed Martin’s release describes the program as “potentially worth in excess of $1 billion.” Meanwhile, an April 2004 release describes its team:
“BAE Systems is a leader in advanced software-defined networking communications, and has deep experience with the platform integration of maritime radio communications. Northrop Grumman Space Technology – Radio Systems provides software-defined radios for today’s most advanced aircraft, the F/A-22 and the F-35, while Raytheon, also a provider of airborne radios, led development of the JTRS Software Communications Architecture (SCA). General Dynamics C4 Systems is a leader in secure communications and software-defined radio technology systems that are included in today’s communication radio rooms and also bring significant security architecture and waveform experience. Others, including Thales, Scientific Research Corp., NOVA Engineering and Cisco Systems, Inc., will provide domain expertise.”
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