PEO View: Army fast-tracks ground radios
- By Col. Dan Hughes
- Sep 08, 2008
The Joint Tactical Radio System’s Ground Domain includes two formfactor programs: the Ground Mobile Radio (GMR) program and the Handheld, Manpack and Small Formfit (HMS) program. GMR is our larger, four-channel, software-definable, multimode communications system designed to support warfighters in ground vehicles, such as Bradley armored fighting vehicles, M-1 Abrams main battle tanks, Humvees and Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles.
HMS includes our new handheld radios. One is the two-channel manpack, which is also our terminal for the Mobile User Objective System satellite.
The other is a small form-fit radio that is embedded into things such as intelligent munitions, unattended ground sensors, new little robots and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). We provide the ground domain layer of the transport capability for the future force, which provides a real networking capability that we don’t have in the force right now.
GMR and HMS are synchronized with Spin Out 1 of the Future Combat Systems (FCS). HMS has already provided three engineering development models (EDMs) that are part of a small UAV known as the Miniature Air Vehicle and capability that’s going into the Army Evaluation Task Force. EDMs of what is known as the rifleman’s radio will be delivered by November.
GMR is part of what is known in FCS as the B-Kit that fits inside the vehicles — it provides the networking transport for a vehicle’s systems with the Wideband Networking Waveform (WNW) and the Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW).
We also provide the capability to talk to the rest of the force with older communications systems, such as the Enhanced Position Location Reporting System (EPLRS) and the Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System (Sincgars), and provide a way to bridge the gap between the current force and the future force with these radios. Our responsibility is to provide these capabilities to the force as fast as we can at a good schedule and performance.
In the past month, we performed a 25-node test with HMS devices at Lakehurst, N.J., with systems coming into and out of the network to prove that the network could self-form and self-heal. We’ve also provided one of our manpack technical demonstrators to soldiers at Fort Gordon, Ga., and asked them to use it to see if we got the form factor right. We’ve received positive feedback from them, saying this was the kind of radio in terms of size, weight and capability that they need.
HMS seeks final certification before production and deployment in June 2009, when we’ll provide the capability for the rifleman’s radio, a single-channel wearable radio using SRW, into the field. We’ll also have some of our small radios ready for the FCS Limited User Test at that time.
GMR was used in the FCS Preliminary Limited User Test this summer, providing not only SRW communications but also existing interfaces to EPLRS and Sincgars, facilitating communications with the current force in addition to surrogate radios in sensors providing video and data feeds. We delivered 121 pre- EDM prototype test units of GMR for field testing and racked up more than 60,000 hours on Abrams, Bradley and Humvee vehicles using GMR with WNW, SRW, EPLRS and Sincgars. EDM deliveries for GMR are coming later this year.
The feedback from FCS testers is that we’re on the right path, and we’re looking forward to the test next summer.
Col. Dan Hughes is the ground domain program manager for the Joint Program Executive Office-Joint Tactical Radio System.