Wednesday, October 20, 2010

JTRS handheld, manpack, and mobile military radio versions enter government test phase

by John McHale

The Joint Tactical Radio System Handheld, Manpack, Small Form Fit (HMS) system and Ground Mobile Radio system have entered government testing phase. General Dynamics C4 Systems in Scottsdale, Ariz., is the lead integrator on HMS and Boeing in Huntington Beach, Calif., leads the GMR effort.

“The JTRS HMS Program is in final integration and test,” says Joe Miller, director of JTRS military radio programs for General Dynamics C4 Systems. “A great number of technical challenges with size, weight, and power (SWAP) are behind us, as is arguably the biggest technical challenge optimization of the networking waveforms to meet scalability, latency, voice quality, throughput, and other performance issues. JTRS is a software-defined radio for military use.

“There are a few minor challenges ahead with completing environmental, electro-magnetic interference (EMI), and security tests -- however, these are viewed as relatively low risk,” he continues.” Remaining technical challenges beyond that focus on platform integration. This effort began in earnest for the U.S. Army Brigade Combat Team Integration Exercise (IBCT-IE) earlier this summer.”

The direction of JTRS technology remains the same, Miller says. “That said there has been a consolidation of radio form factors for embedded platform applications. As platform development has matured, system requirements have matured and tighter constraints have been placed on the radio. Unique requirements and form factors have been eliminated to achieve smaller size and lower weight.

“There has been significant discovery with regards to what it takes to run and scale an ad hoc Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW) network,” Miller notes. “The program was required to invest significant resources in optimization of this network. That capability was exclusively demonstrated on HMS in the BCT-IE this summer at White Sands Missile Range. In addition, the program has focused on getting initial capabilities to the field sooner so SRW, SINCGARS, and SATCOM have taken a priority over other waveforms.

Regarding waveform development “General Dynamics is currently under contract to develop the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) waveform” Miller says. “In addition, General Dynamics C4 Systems has a full suite of waveforms that they have developed, which are currently fielded on the Navy’s Digital Modular Radio.”

HMS and Rifleman Radio

The HMS Small Form Fit A (SFF-A) has also “entered production in support of the Tactical Unattended Ground Sensor (T-UGS),” Miller says.”Development has completed on the HMS two-channel Manpack Radio and the product is in final integration and test to deliver an initial capability including SRW. The Manpack is currently in contractor development test verifying compliance to performance, environmental, and EMI requirements. This testing will complete in October 2010 triggering entrance into a Limited User Test (LUT) starting in December and completing in the February 2011. The HMS Manpack will complete security verification testing (SVT) in March 2011 which is the final gate for NSA certification. Based on this schedule, the HMS Manpack will enter low rate initial production (LRIP) mid-2011.”

General Dynamics completed development on the HMS Production Rifleman Radio (PRR) and “the product is in final integration and test to deliver an initial capability including SRW,” Miller continues. “The PRR enters contractor development test in October 2010 to verify compliance to performance, environmental, and EMI requirements. The PRR will enter SVT December 2010 which is the final gate for NSA certification. In parallel with the Manpack LUT, the PRR will undergo a verification of corrected deficiencies test in February 2011 which will verify that the open issues from the Rifleman LUT have been addressed. Based on this schedule, the HMS PRR will enter LRIP mid-2011.”

GMR status

In addition to the GMRs Boeing produces the Wideband Networking Waveform (WNW), says Cheryl Sampson, external communications at Boeing. JTRS GMR is now in formal government testing, the final steps in the System Development and Demonstration phase prior to the decision on low-rate initial production.

JTRS GMR is part of the Brigade Combat Team Modernization (BCTM) network integration kits (NIKs) and underwent testing this summer, Sampson says.

During the tests the NIKs were composed of the Integrated Computer System and the JTRS GMRs and powered by the most current battle command software, according to a Boeing release. The NIKs integrate and fuse sensor data to form the common operational picture from the solider up through brigade level.

The NIKs were fielded on Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles that formed a network greater than 900 square kilometers and utilizing the most recent versions of the WNW and SRW, according to the release. The test demonstrated NIK-to-NIK communications using WNW at ranges exceeding 28 kilometers as well as on the move. The SRW also exceeded the threshold requirement for connection and transmission distance, Boeing officials say.

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