JTRS-Airborne Maritime Fixed program designed
to connect Navy with Marines, Soldiers ashore
By ROXANA TIRON, Seapower Correspondent
The Navy is on the cusp of turning its ships, submarines and planes into communications nodes
that will enable the sea service to have its eyes
and ears on the Marines and Soldiers fighting on land.
The Navy is an integral part of the ambitious Joint
Tactical Radio System (JTRS) program, designed to revolutionize not only how the Navy communicates with
the other services and its own assets, but how it will
accommodate and use its radios. Shared radio architecture is part of a longstanding Navy plan to unify its disparate and far-flung communications systems.
Ultimately, the Navy will no longer be confined by
radios with a single purpose, but will be able to switch
waveforms and frequencies on the fly to keep track of the
U.S. military’s communications across the world.
“Maritime boxes [would] now be nodes in the
battlespace that can share and pass information with
other nodes on the battlespace,” said Army Col.
Raymond Jones, the program manager for JTRS-Airborne Maritime Fixed (JTRS-AMF).
The Navy’s radio overhaul is part of JTRS-AMF, the
first increment of an ambitious program that will eventually encompass all services. Jones’ deputy is Navy
Capt. Jeff Dunlap.
Lockheed Martin in March won
the $776 million contract for the
system development and demonstration phase of JTRS-AMF. The
defense giant is working with subcontractors General Dynamics,
Northrop Grumman, Raytheon
and BAE Systems to prove that the
program can be realized under a
compressed schedule in the next
The program will reach the
Milestone C production decision in
fiscal 2011, with low-rate production to follow in 2012, according to
Jones. If all goes as planned, full production would commence in 2014.
But the program faces its share of technical challenges, particularly when it comes to integrating the
new technologies with the old to keep continuity until
the entire force is able to be part of JTRS.
Jones remains optimistic.
“We are in good shape with regard to meeting our
milestones and thresholds,” he said.
The basic foundation for JTRS is a software-configurable radio that can move between different
form factors, which means it can accommodate various
shapes and sizes.
It includes integrated encryption and wideband networking software to create mobile ad-hoc networks —
a self-configuring network of mobile routers and associated hosts connected by wireless links.
The first ship to be outfitted with the maritime radio
is the planned DDG 1000, said Jones. But it will be
included on aircraft carriers, cruisers and submarines.
The airborne portion will outfit command-and-control
and service-support aircraft such as the C-130s, C-5s and
C-17s, as well as ground close-air-support and rotary-wing
capabilities, for example, AV-8B Harrier, CV- 22 Osprey
and Global Hawk and Predator unmanned aerial vehicles.
The Joint Tactical Radio System-Airborne Maritime Fixed (
JTRS-AMF) is part of the Navy’s overarching plan to change the way it
communicates with other services, as well as with its own assets.
■ JTRS is a software-configurable radio that can come in different shapes and sizes.
■ The system includes integrated encryption and wideband networking software.
■ The plan is to outfit DDG 1000 first, and later put the system
on aircraft carriers, cruisers and submarines.