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Advances in the software defined radio market continue to overlap nicely with the DoD’s software radio efforts. For the DoD’s Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) program, many of the technology pieces are coming together with its organizational problems now in the past. Meanwhile, WIN-T—the Army’s on-the-move, high-speed, high-capability backbone communications network— is moving forward to become the network for reliable, secure and seamless video, data, imagery and voice services for the warfighters. With that in mind, the defense industry is entering into a new phase where huge R&D efforts are being concentrated on defense communications, as an increasing number of defense establishments realize the need for empowering their defense forces with the latest communications technologies available.
The long road to sophisticated software defined radios is finally getting real as the JTRS program moves into deployment phase. JTRS encompasses ground, airborne, vehicular, maritime and small form factor variants of the radio hardware; 17 Increment 1 waveforms for porting into the JTRS hardware; and network management applications. All JTRS products are being developed in a joint environment, enhancing hardware and software commonality and reusability. FY 2012 plans for JTRS include funding the design, development and manufacture of JTRS engineering development models (EDMs), and low rate initial production (LRIP), to include hardware and software, as well as sustainment of fielded radios and certified waveforms.
Much JTRS Activity
Just the last couple months have seen some significant steps forward with JTRS. Last month the Joint Program Executive Office for the Joint Tactical Radio System (JPEO JTRS) announced the completion of another round of Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) 12.1 New Equipment Training (NET) for members of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division at Ft Bliss, TX.
The training centered on JTRS equipment and systems that will be a part of the Army’s upcoming NIE 12.1 to include: Handheld, Manpack, Small Form Fit (HMS) Rifleman Radio and Manpack Radio, Ground Mobile Radio (GMR), and JTRS Enterprise Network Manager (JENM) and Soldier Radio Waveform Network Manager (SRWNM) (Figure 1).
A soldier uses a JTRS radio inside his vehicle to exchange information with upper command headquarters. The radio can emulate current force radios and use Internet Protocol waveforms WNW and SRW.
Taking place over the first couple weeks in November, NIE 12.1’s purpose is to assess network and non-network capabilities. Priorities of NIE 12.1 are to extend the network to the individual Soldier, advance mission command on the move, and continue to establish an Integration Network Baseline.
MIDS JTRS Contracts
On the contracts side, ViaSat was awarded engineering development orders valued at over $15 million for Multifunctional Information Distribution System Joint Tactical Radio System (MIDS JTRS) terminals for the U.S. government. The awards resulted from a cooperative procurement through the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR). The orders were awarded under the MIDS Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity contract initially executed in March 2010. The awards provide the first block cycle (BC1) information assurance modernization upgrades and additional enhancements for MIDS JTRS terminals.
MIDS JTRS (Figure 2) is a joint development of ViaSat and Data Link Solutions and provides a migration path from the MIDS-LVT to a certified, reprogrammable, software-defined radio architecture for tactical data links. The MIDS JTRS adds three programmable channels to the legacy Link-16 and TACAN capabilities of the MIDS-LVT. The three new channels are designed to host future advanced airborne networking waveforms. MIDS JTRS is “plug-and-play” backward compatible with MIDS-LVT so it can easily replace the MIDS-LVT, but remain interoperable.
The MIDS JTRS system adds three programmable channels to the legacy Link-16 and TACAN capabilities of the MIDS-LVT. Those channels are designed to host future advanced airborne networking waveforms.
Since their original introduction in 2000, MIDS-LVTs have provided secure, high-capacity, jam resistant, digital data and voice communications capabilities for a variety of platforms, including ships, aircraft, missile defense systems, and national and international command and control agencies. Over 8,100 MIDS-LVTs are on contract or have been delivered worldwide, with thousands of future installations and applications projected through 2021.
JTRS SRW Field Tests
Another significant milestone for JTRS occurred in September when the JTRS Reference Implementation Laboratory (JRIL) conducted a Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW) Interoperability Quicklook (SIQ) Field Exercise at SPAWAR System Center (SSC) Pacific Topside and Seaside facilities in San Diego. With assistance from the JPEO JTRS Technical Director, participating JTRS Program Offices and several commercial vendors, JRIL test engineers from SSC-Atlantic and SSC-Pacific successfully configured, executed and monitored lab and field tests using the latest version of SRW, SRW Network Manager (SRWNM) and JTRS Enterprise Network Manager (JENM).
The JTRS government test engineers successfully demonstrated the formation of a heterogeneous SRW Island comprised of six unique types of SRW-capable radio platforms including two radios developed under government contract by the JTRS Program: Ground Mobile Radio (GMR) and Handheld, Manpack, Small Form Fit (HMS) Rifleman Radio. Leveraging the JTRS Enterprise Business Model (EBM), the commercial vendors obtained the SRW waveform from the JTRS Information Repository and integrated the waveform into their radio products using internal funding. Commercial radios that participated in the interoperability event include ITT Soldier Radio-Rifleman, ITT Side Hat Radio, Harris AN/PRC-117G, and the Northrop Grumman Freedom radio.
Putting JTRS through its Paces
According to the JTRS JPEO, the objective of the field exercise was to evaluate the effectiveness of recent SRW patches and parameter updates on platform interoperability and performance in a field environment. Both static and mobile configurations were examined. Each vendor provided multiple radios, which permitted the formation of networks containing up to 14 nodes. Initial test results indicate that all participating radios were able to form a network and exchange Internet Protocol (IP) data and Combat Network Radio (CNR) voice in an interoperable manner.
This SIQ test provided initial validation of SRW’s ability to interoperate across multiple radio platforms. The SRWNM also successfully monitored the configured network throughout the testing, enabling critical insight to the health and status of the heterogeneous SRW network. The success of these tests have been touted by officials as a win for the JTRS business model. That model was a paradigm shift for defense communications in its move away from sole source, stove-piped, point-to-point proprietary systems to a highly competitive, interoperable, networking environment.
Successful completion of the SIQ event lays the groundwork for the upcoming Army’s Network Integration Exercise (NIE) 12.1 as mentioned earlier. Four of the six JTRS radios tested as interoperable over-the-air using SRW during this event will also be participating in that exercise. Priorities of NIE 12.1 are to extend the network to the individual Soldier, advance mission command on the move and continue to establish an Integration Network Baseline. JPEO JTRS plans to continue partnering with Army and commercial developers to conduct JTRS waveform interoperability testing in support of future NIE events.
Vehicle Mount Solution
Facilitating the vehicle side of SRW JTRS, General Dynamics C4 Systems has built a piece of gear called the Sidewinder Vehicle Mount (Figure 3). The unit equips vehicles that do not have communications capability with tactical radios operating in the Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW) network. An accessory for the networking AN/PRC-154 Rifleman radio, the Sidewinder quickly transitions the radio from a body-worn radio to a vehicle-mounted radio, augmenting its power and extending its range. Just as quickly, the Rifleman radio can be removed from the Sidewinder while maintaining connectivity with the tactical network.
The Sidewinder Vehicle Mount unit equips vehicles that do not have communications capability with tactical radios operating in the SRW network. Used in conjunction with the networking AN/PRC-154 Rifleman radio, the Sidewinder quickly transitions the radio from a body-worn radio.
The Sidewinder’s hardware assembly includes the 20W power amplifier from another JTRS HMS radio, the AN/PRC-155, and connectors that work with the vehicle’s existing intercom systems and are compatible with standard mounting trays that most vehicles already have in place. The Sidewinder/Rifleman radio combination has been selected by the Army for evaluation at the upcoming NIE 12.1 event.
WNW Software Support
Another critical JTRS waveform, Wideband Networking Waveform (WNW) has undergone significant developments. WNW does the heavy lifting needed to quickly and efficiently move large amounts of data from the core of the network to the tactical edge. Last month General Dynamics C4 Systems was awarded the Wideband Networking Waveform Software In-Service Support contract by the U.S. Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, to support, maintain and add new capabilities to the Wideband Networking Waveform (WNW). WNW provides the bandwidth capacity needed to move large amounts of data through the U.S. military’s tactical network. The five-year, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract has a maximum potential value of $64.5 million if all options are exercised. Software support and maintenance will increase reliability and improve performance of WNW software thus increasing capabilities within the tactical network. Planned WNW enhancements include increased scalability and throughput adding capability for commanders while on the move.
WIN-T Rolls Forward
A step up in scope from JTRS is another key military networking program: the Warfighter Information Network – Tactical (WIN-T). WIN-T is the Army’s on-the-move, high-speed, high-capability backbone communications network, linking warfighters in the battlefield with the Global Information Grid (GIG). This network is intended to provide C4ISR support capabilities. The system is being developed as a network for reliable, secure and seamless video, data, imagery and voice services for the warfighters in the theater to enable decisive combat actions.
The WIN-T program consists of four increments. Last year the Army awarded General Dynamics C4 Systems a contract to enable a General Dynamics-led team to begin Low Rate Initial Production of the Warfighter Information Network – Tactical (WIN-T) Increment 2. Increment 2 (Figure 4) equips vehicles with on-the-move broadband communications enabling command and control from anywhere in the battlespace. The fiscal year 2012 procures and continues to field WIN-T Inc 1 to the Army, with a Ka satellite upgrade. WIN-T Inc 2 is currently in Limited Rate Initial Production (LRIP) in anticipation of its Initial Operational Test in FY 2012. WIN-T Inc 3 continues in its Engineering, Manufacturing and Development (EMD) phase to deliver the full networking on the move, including the airborne tier of the program.
Two Point of Presence vehicles are shown here during the six-week WIN-T Increment 2 Production Qualification Test-Government (PQT-G) event this summer at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.
In March the Army awarded delivery orders to a General Dynamics-Lockheed Martin team to procure Warfighter Information Network – Tactical (WIN-T) Increment 2 systems for five additional brigade combat teams (BCTs). The Army has now ordered Increment 2 systems for a total of eight BCTs under a three-year contract that was awarded in March 2010. The first WIN-T Increment 2 fielding is scheduled to take place this month.
General Dynamics C4 Systems