MIDS JTRS systems poised to bring IP networking to the aerial tier

By Barry Rosenberg-Macaulay

 Development of the Multifunctional Information Distribution System Joint Tactical Radio System (MIDS JTRS) networking terminal is bringing the Internet Protocol world of high throughput, image transferring, and video streaming with very low latency to the aerial tier of the battlefield. And, as importantly, it can do so over four different channels.

Channel One is for Link 16, leaving the three additional channels to operate any of the other JTRS waveforms such as the Soldier Radio Waveform and Wideband Networking Waveform or the waveform solution to the Joint Airborne Networking – Tactical Edge (JAN-TE) requirement.

“Each of the growth channels were qualified in development with the SINCGARS waveform so we already know that SINCGARS and Link 16 can operate together on our terminal,” said Navy CAPT Scott Krambeck, MIDS program manager. “With MIDS JTRS, we’re taking all the capability in MIDS-LVT terminal, miniaturizing it into a software defined radio, and adding digital growth channels to meet our joint warfighter requirements, which include JAN-TE.

MIDS is one of the five major programs within the JPEO JTRS Enterprise. The MIDS Program has two products: (1) the MIDS-LVT (Low Volume Terminal), a small-size non-software-defined radio that has been in production for 10 years and sold internationally; and (2) MIDS JTRS, a form, fit and function modification of the MIDS-LVT that includes the new channels and waveforms. 

(left) MIDS-LVT; Open and Modular Design; Secure Voice @ 2.4 Kbps & 16 Kbps; TACAN

(right) MIDS JTRS; MIDS-LVT Form-Fit-Function Replacement; Programmable 4- Channel Radio (Link 16 + 3); Reserved capacity to support wide band networking waveforms (SRW, WNW, JAN-TE)

MIDS JTRS has a Link 16 throughput of 1.1 MB/sec, which is ten times greater than MIDS-LVT. It is National Security Agency (NSA) certified with the Link 16 waveform and also includes frequency remapping, which allows MIDS JTRS to meet an agreement between DoD and DoT (Federal Aviation Administration) regarding frequency de-confliction.

Unlike the other JTRS programs, the MIDS program is specifically organized to include international partners, which include France, Italy, Germany and Spain.

Program of Record
Right now, MIDS JTRS is being integrated into its lead platform, the Navy’s F/A-18E/F Block 2 Super Hornet. That particular aircraft is one of the most advanced in the U.S. inventory, as it includes the AN/APG-79 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, the Advanced Crew Station (ACS), and the Advanced Mission Computers and Displays (AMC&D), which run on high order language.

MIDS JTRS has also been funded for integration onto other platforms, including the E-8 Joint STARS, RC-135 Rivet joint, EC-130H Compass Call, and the EC-130E Senior Scout. Other platforms for the future include the B-1 and B-52 bombers, the F-15E Strike Eagle for the Air Force and the EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft, the E-2D surveillance plane and the P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft for the Navy.

MIDS JTRS is presently in a limited production and fielding phase where it has authorization for a limited production of 41 terminals. These networking terminals began Initial Operational Testing and Evaluation (IOT&E) at China Lake in California, in July 2010 and ended testing in October 2010. The MIDS JTRS to be installed into the Super Hornets will be delivered to the Navy in the fall/winter of 2010.

The IOT&E report on MIDS JTRS is expected in December 2010 with a report from the Director of Operational Test & Evaluation that will soon follow. In early 2011 a Defense Acquisition Board is planned such that MIDS JTRS can enter into full production and fielding.