Heart of JTRS

JTRS Program Review & Vision Guide

By Barry Rosenberg-Macaulay

The Heart of JTRS: Network Enterprise Domain Develops Waveforms for Interoperable Networking 

HoyleIt’s often said that it is the guts of the matter that count. In the case of the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) it might be the hand-held or vehicle-mounted radios that get pictured in magazines, but the real evolutionary networking and communications capabilities happen on the inside with the various waveforms being developed.

It is those waveforms that are the guts of JTRS, and the Network Enterprise Domain (NED) office that collectively manages those waveforms is at the heart of the interoperable networking capability of JTRS.

“Our mission is to deliver portable interoperable mobile ad hoc networking waveforms and network enterprise services to enhance tactical war fighting capabilities,” said Navy CAPT Jeff Hoyle, NED Program Manager. “We deliver all the software that makes all the JTRS radios capable. Without the software, they’re just delivering high tech space heaters and hand warmers.”

NED develops and delivers the three, primary, interoperable, networking waveforms-the Wideband Networking Waveform (WNW), the Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW) and the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) waveform-as well as 14 different legacy waveforms (UHF SATCOM, SINCGARS, Link 16, EPLRS and others) in order to maintain current force interoperability.

NED is also responsible for network manager products and enterprise network services software, which provides routing, mobility, infrastructure, information assurance, quality of service, voice and legacy services. They’re not purely waveforms, so the program office created a category called Network Enterprise Services, to manage them.

Waveform Update & Commercialization

SRW Version 1.0C has completed its formal qualification test and is available in the JTRS information repository. The SRW waveform is being developed for the JTRS Handheld, Manpack and Small Form Fit (HMS) radio. In addition, NED will deliver by the end of the year the SRW Network Manager 1.0R to support the HMS Rifleman Radio.

In 2010 there will be a more capable SRW Network Manager, which will provide a planning and monitoring functionality that is called SRW Network Manager 1.0 Plus, which is intended for all radios that have an SRW capability.

Importantly, SRW Network Manager 1.0 Plus is not just for JTRS program-of-record radios. It will also be available to vendors that want to port the SRW waveform to their own radios under their own internal research and development budgets.

“Our mission is to deliver portable interoperable mobile ad hoc networking waveforms and network enterprise services to enhance tactical war fighting capabilities,” said Navy CAPT Jeff Hoyle, JTRS NED Program Manager.

“We have several vendors who are interested in porting the SRW waveform at their own expense for eventual sale back to the government,” said Hoyle. This is a key tenant of the JTRS Enterprise Business Model, which is to expand competition over time.”

As part of that effort, those vendors are being included in development of the SRW Network Manager so that, from a government perspective, any radio that has an SRW capability can be managed with the SRW Network Manager.

“That’s important to make the competitive playing field as level as possible,” said Hoyle.

Because of that, the Joint Program Executive Office (JPEO) JTRS expects a robust competitive environment to develop in the future.

“We envision that vendors outside the program of record will take these waveforms and network services software from the information repository after demonstrating to the JPEO JTRS that they have a legitimate government purpose to add them to a product that they are already selling to the government or to integrate them into a new product that they would like to sell to the government.

“The vision is that an SRW Network Manager could provide support for any Army brigade regardless of the mix of radios they have, as long as they include the SRW waveform. For example, a brigade could operate radios from a variety of different vendors and they could all be managed through the same SRW Network Manager.”

In addition to the SRW waveform, the WNW waveform is coming up on its formal qualification test, expected to be completed November this year. (Earlier versions of the waveform are available in the JTRS information repository.) The WNW Network Manager will also complete its testing in the same timeframe. The WNW waveform is geared initially to the JTRS Ground Mobile Radio (GMR) program.

Recently, an earlier version of the WNW waveform (Version 3.1A) was demonstrated in 30 nodes at a naval base in Charleston, SC, using a GMR pre-engineering development model.

“It gave us the opportunity to prove that we could learn lessons even while we were testing and make modifications to the algorithms in a real world environment,” said Hoyle. And we did that in a couple of occasions, where we were able reload software, boot up the radio and take advantage of a new waveform enhancements in the field.

“We could have done that anywhere in the world. If the radios were fielded to Afghanistan, for example, we could make waveform software improvements that were specific to that mission even while those radios were deployed.

The next large-scale field test for the WNW waveform will be as part of the GMR system integration test in the early part of 2010. That will be a 35-node test, followed shortly by a limited user test and multi-service operational test, which will be in the neighborhood of 80 nodes. Those will all be GMR engineering development model nodes, which have faster processors than the radios used for the 30-node demo in Charleston. These upcoming tests will use the most recent version of the waveform, Version 4.0, which will undergo formal qualification testing on this fall.

The MUOS waveform is on a slightly longer timeframe, with formal qualification testing scheduled to complete in February of 2011. The first platform that will have a MOUS capability is the HMS Manpack.

The Ability to Maintain & Upgrade

In addition to delivering those waveforms, NED is also developing a mechanism to maintain and upgrade them over their life cycle. Program Managers expect that as part of the porting efforts of these products to the various platforms there will be modifications that need to be made, so they’re putting into place open-competition contracts to maintain the waveforms over the long term.

“One of the significant advantages of the JTRS radios is that they are software defined,” said Hoyle. “We can make a lot of changes in the field without having to bring the radios back into a maintenance environment. Specifically, we need to have the ability to maintain and fix bugs that are found in software in the field, to upgrade that software, and, importantly, to enhance its capabilities over time.

“We’re delivering several brand new networking waveforms with capability that warfighters have never had before. Once they’ve had a chance to use the radios in the field, we expect them to have new and better ideas of how we can do things differently in order to enhance functionality and mission accomplishment.”

For example, Hoyle said that there are already requests to enhance the SRW waveform to provide better capability for telemetry operations. Specifically, that would be to operate unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and unattended ground vehicles (UGVs), and provide higher and targeted throughputs to address the video surveillance capabilities of UAVs and UGVs,

“That would be more of a point-to-point capability that is optimized for telemetry operations between a controller and a specific UAV or UGV, as compared to the current optimization, which is for a networking capability among lots of different soldiers,” explained Hoyle. 

NED Delivers

NED develops and delivers portable, interoperable, transformational networking waveforms (e.g., WNW, SRW, MUOS), Legacy Waveforms to maintain current force interoperability (e.g., UHF SATCOM, SINCGARS, EPLRS) and network management and enterprise services software to fully enable JTRS’ mobile, ad hoc networking capability. NED products will produce the networking capability that allows U.S. warfighters from all military service branches to access and share relevant and timely information.  This program is the heart of the interoper-able networking capability of JTRS.