MIDS JTRS now fielding on its first airborne platform

The Air Force’s Joint STARS airborne surveillance aircraft is the first service platform to be fully integrated with the Multifunctional Information Distribution System Joint Tactical Radio System (MIDS JTRS), reports the 66th Air Base Group public affairs office at Hanscom Air Force Base, MA.

The Joint STARS Communications and Network Upgrade program recently installed, tested and fielded the first MIDS JTRS terminals. The first MIDS JTRS-equipped Joint STARS aircraft was delivered in late February to the 116th and 461st Air Control Wing at Robins AFB, GA.

"Fielding the first fully integrated Joint STARS MIDS JTRS-equipped aircraft represents the culmination of a cooperative effort between three separate program offices: the Joint STARS developmental program office, the Airborne Networks program office, also located at Hanscom, and the Navy Multifunctional Information Distribution System program office in San Diego," said 2nd Lt. Samantha Sarkis, Joint STARS CNU program manager, who was quoted in an article written by the 66th Air Base Group PAO.

MIDS JTRS replaces the Joint Tactical Information Distribution System class two terminals currently operating on the rest of the Joint STARS fleet, and provides secure data and voice communications between airborne, ground and seaborne platforms, enhancing communication and battle management capabilities. It also is compatible with a Link 16 network, which is the primary tactical data link exchange for air-to-air and air-to-ground communications.

Link 16 provides military units and platforms with a secure data network for the exchange of near-real time tactical data, including text messages, imagery and digital voice. In addition, the MIDS JTRS form factor is half the size and weight of the current class two terminals, while using half the power consumption.

"These reductions are important, especially aboard an aircraft," said Sarkis in the Air Force article. "MIDS JTRS is twice as reliable as the current JTIDS Class 2 terminal with shorter mean-time-to-repair and reduced life-cycle cost."

Retrofit of 15 more MIDS JTRS systems into the Joint STARS aircraft are expected to be completed by early 2015.

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