Joint Tactical Radio System

Joint Tactical Radio System

The Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS, often pronounced "jitters") is planned to be the next-generation voice-and-data radio used by the U.S. military in field operations after 2010. Launched with a Mission Needs Statement in 1997 and a subsequent requirements document in 1998 (which has been revised several times), JTRS is a software-defined radio that will work with many existing military and civilian radios. It includes integrated encryption and Wideband Networking Software to create mobile ad hoc networks (MANETs).

The JTRS is built on the Software Communications Architecture (SCA), an open-architecture framework that tells designers how hardware and software are to operate in harmony. It governs the structure and operation of the JTRS, enabling programmable radios to load waveforms, run applications, and be networked into an integrated system. A Core Framework, providing a standard operating environment, must be implemented on every hardware set. Interoperability among radio sets is increased because the same waveform software can be easily ported to all radios.

The Object Management Group (OMG), a not-for-profit consortium that produces and maintains computer industry specifications for interoperable enterprise applications, is working toward building an international commercial standard based on the SCA.

JTRS Product Line

The JTRS radios will work with existing communication systems and grow to accommodate new requirements and technologies. JTRS is composed of 5 ACAT 1 programs and 1 ACAT 3 programs and are associated by multiple domains.

*Ground Domain
**GMR - formerly Cluster 1, run by the Army, was to equip Marine and Army ground vehicles, Air Force Tactical Air Control Parties (TACPs), and Army helicopters. Cluster 1 also includes the development of a Wideband Networking Waveform (WNW), a next-generation Internet protocol (IP)-based waveform designed to allow ad-hoc mobile networking. In 2005, the cluster was renamed Ground Mobile Radio (GMR) and the Air Force TACP and Army helicopter radios deleted.

**HMS - formally Cluster 5, led by the Army, is developing handheld, man-portable, and smaller radios. In 2006, it was renamed HMS, for Handheld, Manpack, and Small Form Factor. It is important to note that the JTRS HMS manpack is the only radio program of record that will deliver terminals supporting the next generation UHF TACSAT Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) program. 85% of all MUOS terminals are expected to be ground radios, so if JTRS HMS fails, MUOS (funded in the billions) fails as well - unless a COTS solution is developed...of course MUOS has also had it's share of problems, recently announcing yet another 6 month slip for launching it's first satellite.

*Airborne, Maritime, Fixed Station
**JTRS AMF - formerly Clusters 3 and 4: Cluster 3 aimed to develop a maritime / fixed radio. It was led by the Navy and grew out of the Navy's previous Digital Modular Radio program. Cluster 4, led by the Air Force, aimed to provide radios to Air Force and Navy fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. In 2004, Clusters 3 and 4 were combined into the Airborne and Maritime / Fixed-Station program. In 2006, the Army helicopter radio was added to this cluster.

In early 2008, JTRS AMF attained Milestone B after it received an additonal $700 million after cost estimates conducted by OSD's CAIG determined that the original amount, just over $500 million, was too little.

On March 28, 2008, Lockheed Martin announced March 28, 2008, that it was selected by the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) Joint Program Executive Office to design and provide tactical communications and networking gear for the Air Force, Army, Navy and other users. The initial System Development and Demonstration (SDD) contract value is $766 million. Subcontractors will include BAE Systems, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon. Work will be conducted at Scottsdale, Ariz.; San Diego, Calif.; Tampa, Fla.; Fort Wayne, Ind.; Gaithersburg, Md.; St. Paul, Minn.; Wayne, N.J.; Charleston, S.C.; and Chantilly and Reston, Va.

* MIDS-J. In 2006, the JTRS program took over the effort to improve the Multifunctional Information Distribution System Low Volume Terminal (MIDS-LVT) design, which was developed by a 5-nation consortium in the 1990s. This program was renamed MIDS-JTRS and has also experience cost growth and delays.

*Special Radios
**JEM. - formally Cluster 2 was renamed the JTRS JEM program, adds JTRS capability to the existing handheld AN/PRC-148 Multiband Inter/Intra Team Radio (MBITR) to create the JTRS Enhanced MBITR (JEM). Led by U.S. Special Operations Command, the development effort has certified and fielded the radio. [ [ Thales] ]

*Networking Enterprise Domain
**NED - JTRS Networking Enterprise Domain: This Program develops all the waveforms and network management software for all the JTRS radios.

Problems and restructuring

The JTRS program has been beset by delays and cost overruns, particularly GMR, run by Boeing. [ [ The Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) and the Army’s Future Combat System (FCS): Issues for Congress] ] . Problems included a decentralized management structure, changing requirements, and unexpected technical difficulties that increased size and weight goals and made it harder to add the required waveforms.

In March 2005, the JTRS program was restructured to add a Joint Program Executive Office, a unified management structure to coordinate development of the four radio versions. In March 2006, the JPEO recommended a new management structure, reducing the scope of the project, and extending the well as additional funding. The JPEO's recommendations were accepted and the program reduced requirements and increased it's funding, essentially delivering less for more money. But the "less" that the JTRS program focused on - and continues to focus on - is the most challenging aspect of JTRS - transformational networking. Put simply, the goal is to make tomorrow's radio a telephone, computer and router - all in one box and capable of transmitting throughout the spectrum of 2MHz to 2GHz. This is exteremely hard to do - hence the continued cost growth and schedule slips..

A September 2006 Government Accountability Office report said these changes had helped reduce the risk of more cost and schedule overruns to "moderate." [ [ Restructured JTRS Program Reduces Risk, but Significant Challenges Remain] ]

The U.S. military no longer plans to quickly replace all of its 750,000 tactical radios. The program is budgeted at $6.8 billion to produce 180,000 radios, an average cost per radio of $37,700. Due to the delays in the program, the DOD has been forced to spend an estimated $11 billion to purchase existing tactical radios, such as the U.S. Marine Corps' Integrated, Intra-Squad Radio, the AN/PRC-117F and the AN/PRC-150.

In Jul 2008, the head of OSD AT&L conducted a JTRS "deep dive" to review the program, which has continued to experience cost growth. As a result of this 10-hour session, the JTRS 2-channel handheld radio (one of multiple product lines in the JTRS program) was canceled. Additionally, the JTRS Ground Mobile Radio program will require hundreds of millions in addtional funding. This program, which was orignially funded at approx $370M has now exceeded well over $1.4B although the capabilities it will be required to support have been reduced.

JTRS Radios Fielded

On June 22, 2007, the Joint Program Executive Office issued the first JTRS production contract. It gave Harris Corporation $2.7 billion and Thales Communications Inc. $3.5 billion for first-year procurement and allowed the firms to compete for more parts of the five-year program. Harris could make up to $7 billion; Thales, $9 billion. [ [ Harris, Thales Compete Multi-Billion JTRS Radio Procurement ] ]

Harris will offer the handheld Falcon III AN/PRC-152(C), a COTS product; and the AN/VRC-110 50-watt vehicular radio. Thales will most likely offer the MBITR JEM and AN/VRC-111 vehicular radio. Neither of these two radios are true JTRS radios, because neither meet all the requirements in JTRS Operational Requirements Document (ORD) 3.2 or ORD 3.2.1 amendment, and because both were developed outside of the JTRS program, then upgraded to meet minimum standards set forth by JPEO JTRS and OSD.

The JTRS Enhanced MBITR (JEM), or AN/PRC-148, was originally developed under a USSOCOM requirements document (as the MBITR). It was placed under the JTRS program in 2002 (as Cluster 2) and underwent engineering changes to make it JTRS SCA compliant. Both of these radios are currently in use with the U.S. military.

The first JTRS ORD-compliant radios are expected to go into limited rate production (LRIP): the MIDS-J and Small Form Fit A radios. Both are expected to enter LRIP in fiscal year 2009 (FY09).

The JTRS Ground Mobile Radio, Manpack and Handheld Radios are expected to enter LRIP in FY11. The JTRS AMF-Small Airborne and Maritime radios are expected to enter LRIP in FY12.


JTRS was originally planned to use frequencies from 2 megahertz to 2 gigahertz. The addition of the Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW) waveform means the radios will also use frequencies above 2 GHz. Waveforms that will be supported include:

* Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW)
* Single Channel Ground Air Radio System (SINCGARS) with Enhanced SINCGARS Improvement Program (ESIP), 30-88 MHz, FM, frequency hopping and single frequency
* HAVE QUICK II military aircraft radio, 225-400 MHz, AM, frequency hopping
* UHF SATCOM, 225-400 MHz, MIL-STD-188-181, -182, -183 and -184 protocols
* Enhanced Position Location Reporting System (EPLRS), 420-450 MHz spread spectrum
* Wideband Networking Waveform (WNW) (under development)
* Link-4A, -11B, - 16, -22/TADIL tactical data links, 960-1215 MHz+
* VHF-AM civilian Air Traffic Control, 108-137 MHz, 25 (US) and 8.33 (European) kHz channels
* High Frequency (HF) - Independent Side Band (ISB) with Automatic Link Establishment (ALE), and HF Air Traffic Control (ATC), 1.5-30 MHz
* VHF/UHF-FM Land Mobile Radio (LMR), low-band 25-54 MHz, mid-band 72-76 MHz, high-band 136-175 MHz, 220-band 216-225 MHz, UHF/T 380-512 MHz, 800-band 764-869 MHz, TV-band 686-960 MHz, includes P25 public safety and homeland defense standard
* civilian marine VHF-FM radio, 156 MHz band
* Second generation Anti-jam Tactical UHF Radio for NATO (SATURN), 225-400 MHz PSK Anti-jam
* Identification Friend or Foe (IFF), includes Mark X & XII/A with Selective Identification Feature (SIF) and Air Traffic Control Radar Beacon System (ATCRBS), Airborne Collision Avoidance System (ACAS) and Traffic Alert & Collision Avoidance System (TCAS), and Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Addressable (ADS-A) and Broadcast (ADS-B) functionality, 1030 & 1090 MHz
* Digital Wideband Transmission System (DWTS) Shipboard system for high capacity secure & nonsecure, line-of-sight (LOS), ship-to-ship, and ship-to-shore, 1350-1850 MHz
* Soldier Radio & Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN), 1.755-1.850, 2.450-2.483.5 GHz, Army Land Warrior program 802.11
* Cellular telephone & PCS, includes multiple US and overseas standards and NSA/NIST Type 1 through 4 COMSEC (SCIP)
* Mobile Satellite Service (MSS), includes both VHF and UHF MSS bands and both fielded and emerging low Earth orbit and medium Earth orbit systems and standards, such as Iridium, Globalstar, et al. Includes capability for NSA/NIST Type 1 through 4 COMSEC, 1.61-2 [2.5] GHz. May allow use of geosynchronous satellites with special antenna.

* Integrated Broadcast Service Module (IBS-M). Currently three legacies UHF military broadcasts (TIBS, TDDS, and TRIXS) which will be replaced in the future with a Common Interactive Broadcast (CIB).
* BOWMAN, the UK Tri-Service HF, VHF and UHF tactical communications system.

Several of the above waveforms will not be supported in JTRS Increment 1 and have been deferred to "later increments". Currently, only Increment 1 is funded. The requirements document for JTRS Increment 2 is under development. JTRS Increment 1 threshold waveforms include:

"Waveform/Applicable radios (based on JTRS ORD Amendment 3.2.1 dtd 28 Aug 06)"
* SRW: Small Form Fit, Manpack, AMF-Small Airborne, Ground Moble Radio
* WNW: Ground Mobile Radio, AMF-Small Airborne
* MUOS: AMF-Small Airborne, AMF-Maritime, Manpack (funding was recently added for the manpack)
* Link-16: AMF-Small Airborne, MIDS-J
* UHF SATCOM DAMA: Manpack, Ground Mobile Radio, AMF-Maritime
* SINCGARS ESIP with INC: Ground Mobile Radio
* SINCGARS ESIP: Handheld, SFF, Manpack, Ground Mobile Radio
* EPLRS: Handheld, SFF, Manpack, Ground Mobile Radio
* HF SSB/ISB w/ALE: Ground Mobile Radio
* HF SSB w/ALE: Manpack


External links

* [ Software Communications Architecture Homepage]
* [ Joint Tactical Radio System program]
* [ Joint Tactical Radio Expected To Meet Special-Warfare Needs]
* [ JTRS pages at]

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