DoD cancels JTRS GMR--long live JTRS GMR

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UPDATE Oct. 19, 2011: Military officials say the JTRS GMR sucessor radio may include the legacy SINCGARS waveform.

The Army won't make a planned buy of Joint Tactical Radio System ground mobile radios as designed by Boeing, acting Defense Department acquisition czar Frank Kendall informed Congress on Oct. 13.

In a letter (.pdf) sent to various congressional leaders and committees, Kendall said he will let the current JTRS GMR development contract with Boeing expire without renewal in March 2012.

Boeing received an approximately $2 billion contract in 2002 to develop software-programmable vehicle-mounted radios capable of handling seven legacy and advanced broadband waveforms. ("Waveform" is the term for the method of transmitting sound as a radio signal; it involves modulation and demodulation, message formatting, transmission protocol--and especially for the military, cryptography.)

Per-unit cost of the ground mobile radio segment of JTRS, which also includes hand-held and airborne and shipboard radios, grew too high once the Army reduced the anticipated quantity from 86,209 radios to 10,293, Kendall said.

"Based on growth in the unit procurement costs, I am terminating the program," Kendall wrote. DoD estimates placed the total cost of JTRS GMR at $19.5 billion.

However, the need identified by the DoD for JTRS GMR radios hasn't disappeared--so instead, the department will look to buy a ground mobile software radio that handles just two waveforms and is smaller is size, weight and power compared to the Boeing design. The new radio will lose the legacy waveform compatibility and be capable of handling the soldier radio waveform and wideband networking waveform, Kendall's letter states.

For more:
- download Kendall's Oct. 13 letter (.pdf)

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