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JTRS
Joint Tactical Radio System - this page is a stub

The Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS), pronounced Jitters, is a highly acclaimed software-defined radio (SDR) initiative of the US Department of Defense (DoD), launched in 1997, that aimed to replace all existing hard­ware-based solutions. It is backward compatible with SINCGARS radios and HAVEQUICK frequency hopping. Due to budget overruns, technical problems, specification changes and full pro­gram restructurings, intro­duc­tion of JTRS was postphoned several times.

Official logo of the JTRS program

It was initially hoped that the first JTRS units could be introduced in 2010, but the first Request For Proposal (RFP) was not announced before June 2015. The goal was to start full production in 2017, but even that goal wasn't met [1]. JTRS is widely regarded one of the greatest acquisition failures of the US Department of Defense. Over a period of 15 years, no less than US$ 6 billion was spent, and not a single radio had been fielded [2].

Within JTRS, the aim is to provide a hardware-independent software-based framework that can be used to create applications — known as Waveforms — for any type of JTRS-compliant radio plat­form, regardless the manufacturer, with a minimal implementation/porting effort. Under direction of the US DoD, the requirements are defined in the Software Communications Architecture (SCA). The SCA is an open standard 1 that allows manufacturers to produce SCA-compliant SDR radios.

  1. Not open source.

Clusters
Initially, the work on JTRS took place in five clusters, each run by one of the Armed Forces. In 2005 and 2006, following a complete reorganisation and restructuring of the JTRS program, and assignment of a Joint Program Executive Office (JPEO), the projects were redefined and renamed.

# Description Org Later
1 Marine & Army ground vehicles, WNW, TACPs, Army helicopters Army GMR
2 Add JTRS capability to AN/PRC-148 MBITR SOC JEM
3 Maritime/Fixed radio (former DMR program) Navy AMF
4 Radios for Navy and Air Force aircraft and helicopters Air Force AMF
5 Handheld, man-portable and smaller radios Army HMS
JTRS product delivery
Initially, each of the US Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force and SOC) was responsible for its own projects within the JTRS system, as defined in the above Clusters. In 2006, as a result of lack of progress and coordination and severe budged overruns, a Joint Program Executive Office (JPEO) was established. The JPEO subsequently reorganised and restruc­tured the program, and re­assigned the budget. From then on, JTRS was composed of six Acquisition Categories (ACATs):

NED   Network Enterprise Domain
The JTRS Network Enterprise Domain (NED) was responsible for the development, sustainment and enhancement of interoperable networking and legacy waveforms. Its product line comprises: 14 Legacy Waveforms, 3 Mobile Ad-Hoc Networkig Waveforms, and Network Enterprise Services (NES).
GMR   Ground Mobile Radios — cancelled
The JTRS Ground Mobile Radios (GMR) was a key category that provides critcal commu­nications capabilities for all joint operations. It can emulate previous generation radios through software reconfiguration. It also offers new IP-based self-forming, self-healing and managed networking waveforms with increased speed. GMR radios are SCA-compliant and can be scaled between 1 and 4 channels – with multiple security levels – in the 2 MHz to 2 GHz 1 frequency range. Starting in June 2002, GMR was developed by Boeing, but due to budget overruns and lack of performance, the project was cancelled in October 2011.
HMS   Handheld, Manpack & Small form fit
The JTRS Handheld, Manpack & Small form fit (HMS) deals with physical hardware that is SCA-compliant and can be used in the field. It can host SCA-compliant waveforms known as applications. It offers Type 1 encryption in combination with UHF/SATCOM, SRW, HF, EPLRS, MUOS and SINCGARS. Various HMS solutions have meanwhile been fielded.
MIDS   Multifunctional Information Distribution System
The Multifunctional Information Distribution System JTRS (MIDS) is a secure, scalable, modular, wireless and jam-resistant digital information system. It provides real-time low-cost infomation and situational awareness via digital and voice communications within JTRS. MIDS currently provies TACAN, Link-16 and J-Voice to airborne, ground and mari­time joint and coalition warfighting platforms. MIDS-JTRS is a drop-in replacement (also known as FFF) for MIDS-LVT, funded by five nations.
AMF   Airborne & Maritime/Fixed station
The JTRS Airborne & Maritime/Fixed station (AMF) provides 4-channel, full-duplex SDR that can be integrated into airborne, maritime and fixed-station platforms. It implements 5 initial waveforms: UHF/SATCOM, MUOS, WNW, SRW and Link-16, providing simultaneous voice, data and networking capabilities (including video).
JEM   JTRS Enhanced MBITR
The JTRS Enhanced MBITR is a replacement for the handheld Multi-Band Intra-Team Radio (MBITR). The project was initially led by the SOC and adds JTRS capability to the handheld AN/PRC-148, which then becomes the AN/PRC-148 JEM. The development contract was awarded to Thales in March 2007. The device is in full production (2024).
  1. The upper end was later increased to support frequencies above 2 GHz.

Waveforms
The following waveforms were planned for JTRS, but only a subset has actually been implemented in JTRS increment 1. For a detailed description, please refer to the JTRS page on Wikipedia [1]. Currently, only increment 1 has been funded. Missing items are deferred to later increments.

Waveform Description
SRW Soldier Radio Waveform
SINCGARS SINCGARS CRN with ESIP, 30-88 MHz, FM, FH, SC
HAVEQUICK II Mailitary aircraft radio, 225-400 MHz, AM, FH
UHF SATCOM 225-400 MHz, MIL-STD-188-181/182/183/184 protocols
MUOS Including UHF TACSAT MUOS
EPLRS 420-450 MHz spread spectrum
WNW Wideband Networking Waveform
Link-4A, 11B, 16, 22 Tactical Data Links (TADIL), 960-1215 MHz (and above)
Civil Air Traffic VHF-AM, 108-137 MHz, 25 kHz (US) and 8.33 kHz (EU) channels
HF ISB with ALE, HF ATC, 1.5-30 MHz
VHF/UHF-FM LMR 50, 70, 150, 220, 400, 800 MHz bands, P25
Civil Maritime VHF- FM, 156 MHz band
SATURN 2nd gen. anti-jam Tactical UHF radio for NATO, 225-400 MHz PSK
IFF Mark X, XII/A with SIF and ATCRBS, ACAS, TCAS, ADS, 1030-1090 MHz
DWTS High-capacity ship-ship & ship-shore LOS, 1350-1850 MHz
WLAN 1.8, 2.4, 5 GHz ALW program 802.11
Cellular phone 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G, etc., Type 1-4 COMSEC, SCIP
MSS VHF/UHF MSS, Iridium, Globalstar, etc., Type 1-4 COMSEC
IBS-M TIBS, TDDS, TRIXS (future: CIB)
BOWMAN UK tri-service HF, VHF, UHF tactical communication system
Implemented in increment 1
Of the above projected waveforms, only the following subset was implemented in increment 1:

Waveform Application
SRW SFF, Manpack, AMF-Small Airborne, GMR
WNW GMR, AMF-Small Airborne
MUOS AMF-Small Airborne, AMF-Maritime, Manpack
Link-16 AMF-Small Airborne, MIDS-J
UHF SATCOM DAMA Manpack, GMR, AMF-Maritime
SINCGARS ESIP INC GMR
SINCGARS ESIP Handheld, SFF, Manpack, GMR
EPLRS Handheld, SFF, Manpack, GMR
HF SSB/ISB w/ALE GMR
HF SSB w/ALE Manpack
Legacy waveforms
These legacy waveforms must be supported by JTRS:

  • BOWMAN VHF
  • COBRA
  • EPLRS
  • HAVEQUICK II
  • HF SSB/ALE
  • NATO standardization Agreement 5066 (HF 5066)
  • Link 16
  • SINCGARS
  • UHF DAMA SATCOM 181/182/183/184
  • UHF LOS
  • VHF LOS
Soldier Radio Waveform   SRW
Within JTRS, the Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW) is a networking software (application) that aims to provide voice, data and video capabilities to small combat units and unmanned systems. It is the cornerstone of the Army's lower tier tactical network [3]. It was originally designed for 3 domains:

  1. SS
    Soldier System
  2. UGS/IMS
    Unattended Ground Sensor / Intelligent Munitions Systems 1
  3. NLOS-LS
    None-Line-of-Sight Launch System 1
In most cases only the first domain (SS) is considered, as it supports combat communications between dismounted soldiers and their support ground and air vehicles [3]. Interoperability with other networking waveforms, such as the Wideband Networking Waveform (WNW), is a key aspect of SRW design. It is designed to operate as a mobile ad-hoc network (MANET), enabling commu­ni­cations through a self-configuring intrastructure-less network of mobile nodes. In the SRW/SS domain, these nodes operate in the 225-2500 MHz band, and offer three modes of operation:

  1. CC
    Combat Communication
  2. EW
    Electronic Warfare (anti-jamming, ECCM)
  3. LPI/LPD
    Featureless Low Probability of Intercept / Low Propability of Detection 1
In addition, SRW provides push-to-talk (PTT) Combat Radio Network (CRN)-like voice communication service for CC and EW modes, allowing the use of call groups.

  1. May not be implemented at present.

ESIP Waveform
The Enhanded SINCGARS Improvement Program (ESIP) is a waveform that improves performance of SINCGARS ASIP upgraded radios. It is said to improve the overall performance of voice and data transmission, with a 90% reduction in network fragmentation, while maintaining 100% backward compatibility with earlier SINCGARS models. The ESIP waveform also provides automatic re­trans­mission for voice and packet data networks, using other SINCGARS units to extend its range.


Contractors
  • Boeing
    Boeing Integrated Defense Systems, headquartered in St. Louis (Missouri, USA), was responsible for the development of the Ground Mobile Radios (GMR) program, using the following subcontactors: Northrop Grumman, Rockwell Collins, BAE Systems and Harris (support). The development program suffered from many delays and budget overruns. It was initially scheduled to run until March 2012, but was terminated prematurely in 2011.

  • Thales
    JTRS HMS radios are jointly developed by Thales and General Dynamics. They are the successors to the PRC-148 and PRC-152 single-channel handheld radios, and implement secure voice/data and SRW. Thales received US$ 3.5 billion for first-year procurement and was allowed to compete for more parts of the 5-year program, allowing them to make up to US$ 9 billion. The PRC-148 JEM is in full production (2024).

  • General Dynamics
    JTRS HMS radios are jointly developed by Thales and General Dynamics. General Dynamics was also the developer of Manpack radios. The first 100 units were delivered in 2012 but reportedly showed poor reliability. Nevertheless, the Army ordered 4000 additional units. In addition, General Dynamics has developed the AIM II and JTRS AIM cryptographic pro­cessors, which are used in JTRS radios developed by Thales and General Dynamics.

  • Harris
    Harris was also awarded a contract for the developent of HMS, worth US$2.7 billion for first-year procurement, and was allowed to compete for more parts of the 5-year pro­gram, allowing them to make up to US$ 7 billion. In addition, Harris acted as a sub­contractor for Boeing (in an advisory role) during the GMR development.

  • Lockheed Martin
    On 28 March 2008, Lockheed Martin was selected to develop tactical communications and networking gear for Air Force, Army, Navy and other users. The initial System Develop­ment and Demonstration (SDD) contract was worth US$ 766 million. The following sub­con­tractors are listed: BAE Systems, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon.
Subcontractors
Literature
  1. Software Defined Radio Solutions
    Mark Turner, Harris Corporation, 15 November 2005.

  2. The Joint Tactical Radio System: Lessons Learned and the Way Forward
    Jacques S. Gansler, William Lucyshyn and John Rigilano.
    Center for Public Policy and Private Enterprise.
    UMD-AM-11-199. Revised February 2012.

  3. Analysis of Soldier Radio Waveform Preformance in Operational Test
    M.S. Marwick. Institute for Defense Analysis (IDA).
    IDA paper P-5245. May 2015.
References
  1. Wikipedia, JTRS
    Retrieved 18 April 2024.

  2. Wikipedia, SINCGARS
    Retrieved 18 April 2024.

  3. M.S. Marwick, Analysis of Soldier Radio Waveform Preformance in Operational Test
    Institute for Defense Analysis (IDA).
    IDA paper P-5245. May 2015.
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Crypto Museum. Created: Thursday 02 May 2024. Last changed: Sunday, 05 May 2024 - 09:30 CET.
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