JPEO Tackles Schedules and Costs

JTRS Program Review & Vision Guide

JPEO JTRS Simultaneously Tackles Schedule, Cost and Risk to Keep JTRS on Track

By Barry Rosenberg-Macaulay

TDThe ability of the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) program to provide warfighters with timely dissemination of battlespace command and control, intelligence, air, navigation, and combat identification information depends on two transformational approaches.

“First and foremost, bringing mobile, ad-hoc networking to the tactical warfighter will provide a revolutionary new capability,” said Dr. Rich North, Technical Director of the Joint Program Executive Office (JPEO) for the Joint Tactical Radio System. “Next, the flexible, easily upgradeable infrastructure provided by software defined radios will provide the warfighter with opportunity to take advantage of new technology developments with the ability to add new capabilities to JTRS products in the field.”

With JTRS being such a high-profile program over the years, the JPEO Technical Director is tasked with three main goals, all of which pertain to the key areas of schedule, cost and risk.

They include: (1) provide effective oversight of each of the five JTRS ACAT-1D programs; (2) help the Program Managers successfully deliver JTRS products to the services, and ensure that these products integrate seamlessly into service platforms; and (3) resolve systems engineering challenges that cross
multiple program lines, which includes passing lessons learned from one program to another.

An Emphasis on Risk Reduction

Addressing those challenges are all part of the process of managing risks that can throw the program schedule off its mark and lead to increased costs. To manage such risks, the JPEO has established rigorous system engineering processes guided by its Systems Engineering Plan (SEP). 

“One of the key aspects of this systems engineering process is our functional IPTs (integrated product teams),” explained North. “Under the leadership of senior subject matter experts on my technical staff, these teams work across the JTRS programs to ensure that challenges in their areas of responsibility are quickly worked to resolution.”

Those primary areas are information assurance, standards, requirements, systems engineering, and science and technology.

An example of how the systems engineering process helped Program Managers work through an issue that could have impacted schedule or cost involved the design of a common software loading device for JTRS products. North explained.

“Our functional IPTs identified the lack of a single device capable of loading terminal software, waveform configuration data, and information assurance data into the JTRS terminals. The item was raised as an enterprise risk, and various people were tasked with developing a design for a low-cost solution that could be deployed in the near to mid-term. Working closely with PEO C3T a design was developed that leveraged the existing Simple Key Loader device.”

A Foundation Built on Standards and QA

The foundation of JTRS standards is the Software Communications Architecture (SCA), which guides the development of all JTRS software, both for waveforms and terminal operating environments. In addition to the SCA, the JPEO has established a set of standard software interfaces (or application programming interfaces) and software development guidelines to further enhance the portability of JTRS software between JTRS radio products. 

“To develop these standards, JPEO JTRS holds regular technical exchanges with DoD industry partners to leverage the collective knowledge throughout industry in radio, wireless networking, and software development areas,” said North. “We have found that coordinating the development and approval of standards with a broad range of individuals results in more robust standards.

And in the area of quality assurance, JTRS products must meet specified warfighter requirements such as Operational Availability, mean time between failure and other logistics support measures.