Chief of Signal Comments

Joint Tactical Radio System: a key communications enabler for the objective force

The past two issues of Army Communicator addressed our Warfighter Information Network-Tactical and the satellite-communications systems that will provide warfighters an advanced communications network supporting tactical command, control, communications and computer requirements in the interim (2007) and objective (2010) forces. This issue will complete the triad and discuss the importance of the Joint Tactical Radio System for our future force.

This link to the current systems and doctrine will allow a graceful transition to JTRS that will minimize effects of programmatic perturbations while moving steadily toward full JTRS fielding. Through its open-system design, JTRS will encourage industrial competition for developing new hardware/software by mandating public-domain design standards.

The JTRS family will host a new wideband-network waveform to meet needs for high data volume and velocity and to enable highly flexible, mobile ad hoc networks. When operationally desired, a JTRS set configured for multinet operation will be programmed to act as a dynamic packet switch between its configured nets to route data packets to their destination using any of the nets’ resources. In this way, the available capacity of all networks is virtually pooled for automatic and dynamic assignment to warfighters based on predetermined user priority and message precedence.

From the perspective of radio connectivity and data throughput, the JTRS "internetwork" of legacy radio nets provides the tools to leverage advantages and minimize disadvantages inherent in legacy systems’ design. JTRS sets using the WNW will be installed in WIN-T assemblages to provide gateway services between JTRS users and WIN-T subscribers.

These new radio sets will be configurable by the operator, via software loading in the field, to operate a variety of waveforms to send and receive voice, data and video. For example, users could configure a single JTRS set to operate in four different nets at the same time by emulating Single-Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System on one channel, a Spitfire SATCOM radio on a second channel, an Enhanced Position-Location Reporting System on a third channel, and the new WNW on a fourth channel. Furthermore, a JTRS set that operates in a SINCGARS network will appear to be SINCGARS to other net members.

In this configuration, a commander could talk to two other commanders in geographically isolated enclaves by crossbanding his SINCGARS network (Channel 1) through a SATCOM network (Channel 2). At the same time, situation-awareness data can be flowing through a data network and populating "Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below" terminals on Channel 3, while a video feed from an unmanned aerial vehicle is sent to the commander’s command-information console in the tactical-operations center on Channel 4. The data and video traffic on Channels 3 and 4 are transparent to the commander as he converses on Channels 1 and 2.

The mobile ad hoc networking capabilities inherent in the WNW – combined with the capability to operate and crossband several channels simultaneously – present the warfighter with tremendous operational flexibility. He will be able to access all voice, data and video resources from anywhere in the battlespace, untethered from the TOC or command post. He will be free of the force-protection burden of soldiers on high ground since terrestrial relays and retransmission sites will no longer be necessary. He doesn’t need line-of-sight to the "distant end." Since every JTRS set is a "node" in the network, his data simply and automatically routes and retransmits from set to set to get to the designated destination, using range extension via high-frequency or SATCOM waveforms when required.

JTRS is a major step forward in tactical-radio technology that will mute the old refrain we’ve all heard throughout our service: "We can’t interoperate with … the Marines … the Navy … the Air Force … the civil authorities … the unit on my left … the coalition … the allies … the State Department. …" JTRS will reduce interoperability between tactical radio networks to a simple matter of loading and executing software modules that fit mission needs.

As the Army transforms, JTRS, WIN-T and SATCOM will be key enablers for achieving information dominance. They will be the cornerstones and building blocks for accomplishing the Signal Regiment’s vision as we drive to an objective force with superior lethality and survivability.

Acronym QuickScan
JTRS – Joint Tactical Radio System
SATCOM – satellite communications
SINCGARS – Single-Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System
TOC – tactical-operations center
WIN-T – Warfighter Information Network-Tactical
WNW – wideband-network waveform

dividing rule

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