U.S. NAV Y
Electronics Technician Seaman Cliff Bunnowsky checks
power inputs for ultra-high frequency (UHF) radios used
for ship-to-ship and shore communications in the UHF
radio room aboard the aircraft carrier USS John C.
Stennis in March 2007. As the Joint Tactical Radio System
is incorporated aboard ships, it will change how the radio
room functions, according to program officials.
The maritime devices and ancillaries will support
the Navy’s Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) — a
next-generation narrowband tactical satellite communications system — and its ultra-high frequency satellite communications (UHFSC).
For the “small airborne” portion of the technology,
the JTRS radio and ancillaries will support several
waveforms, including MUOS, Wideband Networking
Waveform, Link- 16 and soldier network waveform.
“If I am flying my Apache helicopter next to a Navy
ship that has a maritime box and I have a small airborne box with which I can talk to them, I can reach
the commander both on the ship and on the ground,”
said Jones, an Army experimental test pilot.
A ship, for example, would become a node on the
same network the Army and the Marine Corps share.
It would gain greater insight into how the ground
forces prosecute war, said Navy Capt. Jeff Hoyle, the
JTRS Network Enterprise Domain program manager.
“You would now have the ability to have much better situational awareness on what is happening on the
shore,” Hoyle said.
For example, the radio could be quickly repro-grammed from tactical communications to handling
medical emergencies, said Jones.
The maritime version of JTRS will have eight other
channels in the box for other waveforms besides
MUOS and the UHFSC, said Jones.
“We can put in legacy waveforms or future waveforms,” he said.
This design is intended to keep the radio technology fresh, enabling vast software upgrades that don’t
require a major overhaul of the underlying equipment.
MUOS will double the available bandwidth for the
ultra-high frequency satellite communications and
enable cell phone-like connectivity between all the Navy
users worldwide, including submarines, said Hoyle.
But MUOS is the least far along of the capabilities the
Navy is developing for the maritime and airborne portion of JTRS. This is primarily because so many aspects
need to be coordinated, from the satellite ground system to the actual satellite and the end users, said Hoyle.
Program management has formed the MUOS JTRS
management council for the undertaking, he added.
While JTRS will greatly change the way the Navy
communicates, it will also achieve another goal: scaling down radio rooms on ships and automating as
much of the technology as possible.
“Maritime platforms have a lot of channels,” said
Glenn Kurowski, Lockheed Martin’s program manager
for JTRS-AMF. “They have radio rooms full of equipment, which is Sailor-intensive to run.”
But one cannot just hand a box to the Navy,
“You have to have that capability in a form that can
economically be integrated onto the ship [with] the
racks, the isolation gear and all the cables,” he said.
“JTRS-AMF provides turnkey platform innovation kits.”
Ultimately, the program will change how the radio
room functions, Kurowski said.
“The Navy will be connected to everybody,” he said.
“The maritime world is looking at the economics of
providing common solutions that can be applied to
multiple ship types.”
As the integrator, Lockheed Martin faces some challenges, said Kurowski, particularly when it comes to
porting new waveforms. Airborne part size and power
of the radio box pose others, he said. Maritime radios,
on the other hand, are fitted in a rack size, where
power is not such an issue.
“You can put that on the challenge list, but it is not
as dramatic,” he said.
Platform integration also becomes difficult once
many radios are placed side by side, said Jeff Jones,
Raytheon’s program manager for JTRS-AMF. “They
start bleeding over each other,” he said, noting that
they need to be properly situated, with filters installed.
The Navy could exercise close to $1.5 billion in contract options that would buy additional models and