Joint Tactical Radio System

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The Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) was planned to be the next-generation voice-and-data radio used by the U.S. military in field operations.

However, the project was cancelled in October 2011 by the United States Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics, who stated that:

Our assessment is that it is unlikely that products resulting from the JTRS GMR development program will affordably meet Service requirements, and may not meet some requirements at all. Therefore termination is necessary.[1]

The funding for the project was allowed to expire in March 2012.


Launched with a Mission Needs Statement in 1997 and a subsequent requirements document in 1998 (which has been revised several times), JTRS is a family of software-defined radios 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 program has been beset by delays and cost overruns, particularly Ground Mobile Radios (GMR), run by Boeing.[2] Problems included a decentralized management structure, changing requirements, and unexpected technical difficulties that increased size and weight goals that made it harder to add the required waveforms.

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 Program of Record[edit]

The Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) has evolved from a loosely associated group of radio replacement programs to an integrated effort to network multiple weapon system platforms and forward combat units where it matters most – at the last tactical mile. In 2005, JTRS was restructured under the leadership of a Joint Program Executive Officer (JPEO) headquartered in San Diego, California. The JPEO JTRS provides an enterprise acquisition and management approach to successfully and efficiently develop, produce, integrate, test and field the JTRS networking capability.

The JTRS Enterprise is composed of five ACAT 1D programs of record - Network Enterprise Domain (NED), Ground Mobile Radios (GMR), Handheld, Manpack, & Small Form Fit (HMS), Multifunctional Information Distribution System (MIDS) JTRS, and Airborne, Maritime Fixed/Station (AMF) and one ACAT III program - Handheld JTRS Enhanced Multi-Band Intra-Team Radio (JEM).

JTRS Network Enterprise Domain (NED)[edit]

JTRS NED is responsible for the development, sustainment, and enhancement of interoperable networking and legacy software waveforms. NED’s product line consists of:

JTRS Ground Mobile Radios (GMR)[edit]

JTRS GMR are a key enabler of the DoD and Army Transformation and will provide critical communications capabilities across the full spectrum of Joint operations. Through software reconfiguration, JTRS GMR can emulate current force radios and operate new internet protocol-based networking waveforms offering increased data throughput utilizing self-forming, self-healing, and managed communication networks. The GMR route and retransmit functionality links various waveforms in different frequency bands to form one internetwork. GMR can scale from one to four channels supporting multiple security levels and effectively use the frequency spectrum within the 2 megahertz to 2 gigahertz frequency range. The radios are Software Communications Architecture compliant with increased bandwidth through future waveforms and are interoperable with 4+ current force radio systems and the JTRS family of radios.

Now that the GMR contract has been completed, the Army plans to leverage knowledge gained from the GMR Program in the upcoming Mid-Tier Networking Vehicular Radio solicitation.[3]

JTRS Handheld, Manpack & Small Form Fit (HMS)[edit]

JTRS HMS is a materiel solution meeting the requirements of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks and Information Integration/DoD Chief Information Officer for a Software Communications Architecture (SCA) compliant hardware system hosting SCA-compliant software waveforms (applications).

The JTRS HMS contract is structured to address Increment 1, consisting of Phases 1 and 2. Increment 1, Phase 1 will develop the AN/PRC-154 Rifleman Radio sets and embedded SFF-A (one channel), SFF-A (two channel) and SFF-D (one channel) versions. The AN/PRC-154 Rifleman Radio sets and SFFs will utilize the Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW) in a sensitive but unclassified environment (Type 2). In order to mitigate program waveform porting and integration challenges, the SRW application, which is managed by the JTRS Network Enterprise Domain, was developed on a Waveform Development Environment with HMS as the lead platform for porting.

Increment 1, Phase 2 will develop the two channel manpack, two channel handheld, and embedded SFF-B, versions that are all Type 1 compliant for use in a classified environment. Waveforms on the phased sets include Ultra High Frequency (UHF) Satellite Communications, Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW), High Frequency (HF), Enhanced Position Location and Reporting System (EPLRS), Mobile-User Objective System (MUOS), and Single Channel Ground to Air Radio System (SINCGARS).

Multifunctional Information Distribution System (MIDS) JTRS[edit]

MIDS is a secure, scalable, modular, wireless, and jam-resistant digital information system currently providing Tactical Air Navigation (TACAN), Link-16, and J-Voice to airborne, ground, and maritime joint and coalition warfighting platforms. MIDS provides real-time and low-cost information and situational awareness via digital and voice, communications within the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) Enterprise. The MIDS Program includes MIDS-LVT and the MIDS JTRS Terminal. MIDS-LVT is in full rate production and MIDS JTRS is in evolutionary development and limited production. MIDS JTRS is a “form fit function” replacement for MIDS–LVT and adds three additional channels for JTRS waveforms as required by joint and coalition warfighter.

JTRS Airborne & Maritime/Fixed Station (AMF)[edit]

AMF will provide a four-channel, full duplex, software-defined radio integrated into airborne, shipboard, and fixed-station platforms, enabling maritime and airborne forces to communicate seamlessly and with greater efficiency through implementation of five initial waveforms (i.e., Ultra-High Frequency Satellite Communications, Mobile User Objective System, Wideband Network Waveform, Soldier Radio Waveform, and Link 16) providing data, voice, and networking capabilities. JTRS AMF is software-reprogrammable, multi-band/multi-mode capable, mobile ad hoc network capable, and provides simultaneous voice, data, and video communications. The system is flexible enough to provide point-to-point and netted voice and data, whether it is between Service Command Centers, Shipboard Command Centers, Joint Operations Centers or other functional centers (e.g., intelligence, logistics, etc.). AMF will assist U.S. Armed Forces in the conduct of prompt, sustained, and synchronized operations, allowing warfighters the freedom to achieve information dominance in all domains; land, sea, air, space, and information.

JTRS Product Delivery[edit]

JTRS Network Enterprise Domain (NED)[edit]

JTRS Ground Mobile Radios (GMR)[edit]

The GMR contract was completed 31 March 2012.

JTRS Handheld, Manpack & Small Form Fit (HMS)[edit]

Multifunctional Information Distribution System (MIDS) JTRS[edit]

JTRS Airborne & Maritime/Fixed Station (AMF)[edit]

Consolidated Single Channel Handheld Radios (CSCHR)[edit]


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:

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)

Problems and restructuring[edit]

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 changing the management structure, reducing the scope of the project, extending the deadline, and adding money. The JPEO's recommendations were accepted.

The program is focusing on the toughest part: transformational networking. The JTRS radio is to be a telephone, computer and router in one box that can transmit from 2 MHz to 2 GHz.

A September 2006 Government Accountability Office report said these changes had helped reduce the risk of more cost and schedule overruns to "moderate."[4]

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. Program delays forced DOD to spend an estimated $11 billion to buy more existing tactical radios, such as the U.S. Marine Corps' Integrated, Intra-Squad Radio, the AN/PRC-117F and the AN/PRC-150.[citation needed]

On June 22, 2007, the Joint Program Executive Office issued the first JTRS-Approved radio (not JTRS-Certified) 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.[5]

In July 2008, the head of OSD AT&L conducted a 10-hour program review after costs continued to grow. Additionally, the JTRS Ground Mobile Radio program, originally funded at around $370 million, has now exceeded $1 billion despite reduced requirements.

In 2012, after the first 100 General Dynamics Manpack radios showed "poor reliability", the US Army placed a $250 million order for nearly four thousand more of them.[6]


During the Iraq War, the USMC developed their own system using commercial off the shelf technology, combining satcoms with wifi, that has worked ever since.[7][8]


External links[edit]