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Joint Tactical Radio System Handheld, Manpack,
Small Form Fit (JRTS HMS)
Joint Tactical Radio System Cluster 5

JTRS Cluster 5 (subsequently Joint Tactical Radio System Handheld, Manpack, Small Form Fit (JRTS HMS)) was managed in conjunction with the United States Army's Program Manager for the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (PM WIN-T), part of the Program Executive Office, Command, Control and Communications-Tactical (PEO-C3T) at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. The Communications Electronics Command (CECOM) at Fort Monmouth was the contracting agency. As of 2007 a Joint Program Executive Office provided a central acquisition authority and balanced acquisition actions across the services, while product offices were developing radio hardware and software for users with similar requirements. The JTRS HMS product office, within the JTRS Ground Domain program office, was developing the handheld, manpack, and small form radios.

Cluster 5 was initially to oversee acquisition development and production of JTRS handheld and manpack units and forms suitable for embedment into platforms requiring a Small Form Fit (SFF) radio. Cluster 5 will include several variants of the Small Form Fit radio and two versions of the handheld radio - a single channel model and a two-channel model (with the objective of producing a three-channel version). The manpack radio will have two configurable channels (with an objective of four configurable channels).

To meet Service needs for expeditious delivery of handheld and manpack capabilities, Cluster 5 would use a spiral development process. The initial product spiral would conform to JTRS Operational Requirements Document (ORD) version 2.3 threshold requirements. The program would evolve to ORD version 3.2 requirements in the subsequent spiral. In addition, JTRS waivers were not required by Services to procure the initial spiral of the Cluster 5 handheld and manpack products.

By meeting a subset of the full ORD requirements, Cluster 5 would deliver militarily useful capabilities that satisfy Joint Service needs. Spiral 1 would comprise delivery of a COTS/NDI dual-channel manpack radio that complies with JTRS ORD 2.3. The radio would be SCA 2.2 compliant. Spiral 2 would expand spiral 1 capabilities for the dual-channel manpack (both mounted and dismounted), develop 1 and 2 channel handheld capabilities, and initiate and complete small form fit development, in addition to the Spiral 1 waveforms.

Small form fit sets would be able to store at least two waveforms. Handheld sets would be able to store at least six waveforms. The manpack JTR sets would be able to store at least 10 waveforms. All Cluster 5 sets would have GPS capability, and would be capable of automatic retransmission and routing.

The US Army awarded a contract to General Dynamics for the System Design and Development phase of the JRTS Cluster 5 radios on 16 July 2004. The JTRS Cluster 5 SDD contract was worth $295 million with a potential value in excess of $1.4 billion through 2011 if all options were exercised.

A 2007 assessment by the Government Accountability Office held the maturity of JTRS HMS critical technologies as questionable. The program reported to the GAO that 3 of its 6 critical technologies were mature at the time indicating that progress has been made since system development began in 2004 when only one of its critical technologies was mature. The remaining critical technologies were approaching maturity. However, in most cases, the reported maturity was not justified because the technologies either were not demonstrated in a realistic environment or they were not demonstrated using an adequately functioning prototype. Nonetheless, the program office believed that the delivery of early prototypes in late October 2006 indicated that significant progress has been made.

The restructuring of the program combined with requirements relief allowed for the maturing of JTRS HMS critical technologies. The program expected all 6 of its critical technologies would mature sufficiently to begin low-rate production deliveries of the small form radios by the end of FY09 and for the manpack/handheld radios by the end of FY10. However, meeting the requirements of the JTRS HMS radios would continue to be a challenge because of their small size, weight, and power constraints. Program officials expected that the requirements relief provided by the restructuring would help to address these issues. In particular, the restructuring reduces the number of JTRS HMS radio variants from 15 to 9. Reducing the number of variants would provide relief in the hardware design and platform integration work. In addition, the restructuring reduced the number of waveforms from 19 to 5 required to operate on the various HMS radios, which was expected to reduce power demands, thereby reducing the size and weight demands.

Importantly, JTRS HMS radios would also not be required to operate the Wideband Networking Waveform. The Wideband Networking Waveform provided key networking capabilities to JTRS, but carried with it a large power requirement. As an alternative, JTRS HMS radios would operate the Soldier Radio Waveform, which was a low-power, short-range networking waveform optimized for radios with severe size, weight, and power constraints such as dismounted soldier radios and small-form radios. The initial version of the Soldier Radio Waveform had been successfully integrated onto early prototypes. While the waveform had demonstrated some functionality, program officials noted that it would take some effort to transition the waveform from a static laboratory environment to a realistic operational platform. In particular, program officials were concerned about the waveform's security architecture and how this could affect integrating it onto a JTRS radio. Given these concerns, the waveform's development schedule may be ambitious. The contract to further develop this waveform was awarded early in FY07.

The GAO assessment noted that a design review had been scheduled for February 2007. Although the production decision for HMS radios had been delayed for 2 years, the restructuring of the JTRS program appeared to put the program in a better position to succeed by emphasizing an incremental, more moderate risk approach to developing and fielding capabilities. The success of the first "spin-out" of Future Combat Systems was dependent on the delivery of select JTRS HMS radios that operate the Soldier Radio Waveform.

While the restructuring reduced program risk, the long-term technical challenges discussed previously had to be overcome for the program to be successfully executed. In addition, the JPEO was assessing different options to enable network interoperability between JTRS networks and anticipated that development of this effort would start in 2007.

The restructured JTRS HMS program was divided into two phases. Phase I would include select small form variants, while Phase II would include small form radios with enhanced security, as well as handheld and manpack variants. As of a 2008 GAO assessment, Phase I included two critical technologies, both of which were approaching maturity. Critical technologies for Phase II had yet to be defined. Developing multiple layers of communication security and obtaining National Security Agency certification continued to be a challenge. In addition, while the key networking waveform had been integrated onto JTRS HMS radios in a static laboratory environment, program officials reported that it would take additional efforts to transition the waveform to a realistic operational platform. Furthermore, achieving size, weight, and heat dissipation requirements for the two-channel handheld radio remained a significant challenge.

Phase I development intended to maximize the use of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components and products. As such, the program reports in 2008 that only two critical technologies, logical partitioning and software power management, for Phase I products. Both technologies were approaching maturity and were expected to be fully mature to support the program's scheduled low rate production decision in 2009.

Phase II development would encompass a customized design. Critical technologies and associated technology maturity levels for Phase II would be defined in a technology readiness assessment scheduled to begin 12 months prior to the Phase II low-rate production decision in-process review scheduled in 2008 for April 2010. The program expected that all critical technologies for Phase II would mature sufficiently to begin low-rate production deliveries by the second quarter of FY11.

Developing multiple levels of communication security and obtaining security certification from the National Security Agency was a challenge for JTRS HMS. The security challenges persisted, in part, because waveform software was being developed while security requirements were still evolving. The program expected early prototypes of the 2-channel hand-held to be available in early FY08.

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