Current military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and the transformation of the force structure to adopt Network Centric Warfare (NCW) are driving digital tactical military communications. The focus of Congressional and Pentagon efforts is responding to immediate operational needs for ground forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. Naval and air tactical communications have secondary priority while Iraq remains active. Platforms and systems such as satellite communications that have direct support for troops on the ground remain a priority.
The military services require improved connectivity to support improved situation awareness, better command decisions, faster targeting, and increased efficiency. Tactical military communications feature new technologies and sophisticated networked systems to enable soldiers and commanders to develop a common operational picture and shorten the "sensor-to-shooter" kill chain.
A large component of tactical communications efforts are focused on systems integration work to bridge existing radios and to incorporate new technologies as they become available. Some transformational communications technologies remain relatively immature and acquisition cycles are too long and inefficient.
The armed forces are experiencing difficulties with tactical radio systems. Software Defined Radio [SDR], multi-layered access and security and long lasting lightweight power supplies have not progressed as quickly as anticipated. Current systems are reacing end-of-service life, and intense operational use has accelearted normal attrition. The Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) is not yet available, and schedules and funding have been delayed.
These capabilities gaps are being filled by replacing and upgrading current radios such as SINCGARS, and through interim radios with some SDR features. The gap between current equipment and the timeline for the next generation of SDR has presented an opportunity for interim tactical radio and network solutions. Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) solutions are often sought to save time and money. These systems frequently have open architectures that ease integration with current and future systems.
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