Air Force plan to cut its JTRS military radio program may acknowledge developments in private industry

By John Keller

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) plan to upgrade military radio communications by injecting software defined radio (SDR) technology into land, sea, and airborne RF transceivers is taking a hit with news that the U.S. Navy and Air Force are seeking to cancel their JTRS programs in an effort to save at least $1.8 billion.

The Air Force in its new five-year budget plan is proposing to eliminate its JTRS military radio program, and the Navy is proposing similar cuts to its JTRS radio communications initiative, according to published reports. The Air Force's five-year plan also calls for cutting a program to upgrade avionics software for the C-130 turboprop transport aircraft, as well as eliminating several other programs.

It just might be that JTRS is like the Army's Future Combat Systems (FCS) program -- too juicy a target to succeed, instead of too large a program to fail.

Not only that, however, but it seems clear that private industry -- on its own initiative and in response to market demand -- is outpacing the DOD on software defined radio technology that lies at the heart of JTRS.

In fact, it could well be that the DOD no longer needs the JTRS technology-development program at all. Nearly everything that U.S. military forces need in software-defined radio capability is available, or emerging, in the private sector.

Perhaps the Air Force's proposal to cut its JTRS initiative is an acknowledgement of superior industry development of software defined radio technology.

This is an indication, after all, of what the DOD intended in its shift to commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technology back in the early 1990s. DOD, with its COTS initiative, sought to harvest the best technologies from the private sector, rather than develop its own, which in the old days often resulting in re-inventing the wheel.

Software-defined radio these days has a lot of momentum behind it -- and not just from potential military applications. First responders, civil transportation, and even private communications stand to benefit from advances in SDR technology.

With so much attention, and so many resources from private investors going into software defined radio, it simply no longer makes sense for DOD to devote serious resources into this technology -- except where the military needs unique SDR waveforms or other technology that will not be available on the private market.

Improvements and additions to software-defined radio technology are common, from radio systems manufacturers like Harris RF Communications, Rockwell Collins, and Thales, to embedded signal processing specialists like Pentek, TEK Microsystems, and Nallatech, to real time software providers like Green Hills and LynuxWorks.

I think we'll see additional cutbacks in other DOD JTRS programs as top military leaders realize they can put resources into other more crucial areas.

The Air Force's newest five-year plan also proposes suspending the Boeing Wideband Global high-speed communications satellite system after the company finishes a constellation of six satellites; eliminating the Northrop Grumman Corp. program to build new engines for the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System aircraft, better known as Joint STARS; stopping the Boeing Small Diameter Bomb program -- a 250-pound satellite-guided munition; and building eight more Global Hawk long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicles, rather than 22 more of the unmanned aircraft as had been planned.

President Obama is putting pressure on DOD to reduce its long-term budgeting plans, and U.S. military leaders are scrambling to protect the programs they consider crucial to long-term national defense.

The Air Force's five-year plan is putting high priority on protecting the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Air Force's V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft, and an initiative to build a new aerial refueling tanker.

The DOD has asked the Air Force to reduce its budget by about $24.2 billion, or about 3.8 percent, from the current five-year plan. Air Force officials have been told not to cut spending on salaries, personnel housing, science and technology, building infrastructure.


-- Posted by John Keller,

Follow me on Twitter

Military & Aerospace Photos

Most Popular Articles

Related Products


F-SIM-LDR ARINC 615A Data Loader

AIT's F-SIM-LDR, or Flight Simulyzer Loader, is a complete ARINC-615A Data Loader development kit...

AceXtreme® Bridge Device - Smart Protocol Converter

DDC’s AceXtreme Bridge Device converts avionics messages in real time between Ethernet, MIL-STD-1...

Low Voltage Power Supplies for Avionics

Crane Aerospace & Electronics has over 50 years of experience in the design and manufacture of hi...

Transformer Rectifier Units (TRUs)

As the world’s leading supplier of Transformer Rectifier Units (TRUs) for commercial aircraft sin...


The RAR-USB is an ARINC 429 USB 2.0 adaptor that provides up to sixteen totally independent recei...

DW 251

DW 251 has been developed for specific use in aerospace and aircraft electrical and wiring applic...

Aircraft gearboxes

Positronic's Front Runner Connectors

The Front Runner Series offers a multiplicity of connector features which makes it a first choice...

ANET1553 / ANET429 Ethernet modules

New Ethernet Avionics Databus solutions for MIL-STD-1553A/B and ARINC429 are available. Test & Si...

Related Companies

CES - Creative Electronic Systems SA

Has been designing and manufacturing complex high-performance avionics, defense and communication boards, subsystems ...

Boker's Inc

Boker's, Inc. can manufacture your flat washers, spacers and shims with an outside diameter from 0.080" to 12" and ma...

DLS Electronic Systems Inc

Provides EMC/EMI & Environmental testing to MIL-STD 461-A-F, MIL-STD 810 & RTCA DO-160-C-G, Boeing, Airbus FAA AC20-1...


Highly innovative, integrated time-critical solutions of an information mission management and command and control sy...

Digital Systems Engineering Inc (DSE)

Harsh-duty ruggedized flat-panel display design and manufacturing for airborne, military, and marine surveillance app...

Speel Praha Ltd

Offers avionics systems, including aircraft monitoring systems, crash-protected solid-state flight data/cockpit voice...


Designs and manufactures ruggedized printers and Ethernet switches used in demanding military and defense application...

Tata Technologies Ltd

Combines a global network of innovation experts, program managers and highly skilled engineers for aircraft engineeri...


Provides LED push button display switches and control solutions, subsystems, and rugged keyboards and keypads for com...


Supplies high-density, high-reliability Interpoint microelectronics, DC/DC converters and EMI filters to the aerospac...
Wire News provided by   

Press Releases

Low Viscosity, One Part Cyanoacrylate Is Non-Toxic and Meets ISO 10993-5 Specifications

Master Bond MB250NT is widely used for a variety of applications ranging from repair to high speed producti...

Thermally Conductive, Two Component Epoxy Passes USP Class VI Tests and ISO 10993-5 Specifications

With biocompatibility and cytotoxicity certifications, Master Bond EP21AOLV-2Med is often selected for bond...

One Component, Snap Cure Epoxy Features High Strength Properties

Suitable for a variety of applications in the electronic, aerospace and OEM industries, Master Bond EP3SP5F...

One Part Epoxy Resists up to 500°F and Meets NASA Low Outgassing Specifications

Master Bond Supreme 12AOHT-LO is a one component epoxy for a variety of bonding and sealing applications in...

VICTORY Shared Processing, Fire Control Computer, and Switch for Ground Vehicles Introduced by Curtiss-Wright

Curtiss-Wright Corporation today announced that its Defense Solutions division has introduced a new fully i...


Curtiss-Wright Corporation’s Defense Solutions division applauds Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) o...

Curtiss-Wright’s New Rugged Mobile IP Router Subsystem Features an Integrated Cisco® 5915 ESR Router

Curtiss-Wright Corporation today announced that its Defense Solutions division, a Cisco® Systems Solution T...

GE Announces First Sub-Credit Card-Sized Multi-Function High Definition (HD) Video Tracker

HUNTSVILLE, AL.— OCTOBER 13, 2014—GE’s Intelligent Platforms business today announced at AUSA (October 13-...


Meeting the Gen3 backplane challenge with OpenVPX and COTS

Tight Pentagon budgets mean military systems must stay in the field for longer than ever before. This doesn't mean obsolete technology, however. Today's military electronics are being upgraded constantly, an...
Sponsored by:

Design Strategy Considerations for DO-178C Certified Multi-core Systems

Join Wind River to learn how system architecture and design choices can minimize your DO-178C certification challenges.

Sponsored by:

Flying, Sailing or Driving - The Rugged, Embedded Intel-based Server that goes where you need it!Flying Sailing or Driving

Leveraging the power of server-class processors is no longer relegated to the confines of data centers. Through several innovations, Mercury Systems has ruggedized Intel’s server-class chips for deployment. ...
Sponsored by:

All Access Sponsors

Mil & Aero Magazine

April 2015
Volume 26, Issue 4

Download Our Apps




Follow Us On...


Military & Aerospace Electronics

Weekly newsletter covering technical content, breaking news and product information

Cyber Security

Monthly newsletter covering cyber warfare, cyber security, information warfare, and information security technologies, products, contracts, and procurement opportunities

Defense Executive

Monthly newsletter covering business news and strategic insights for executive managers

Electronic Warfare

Quarterly newsletter covering technologies and applications in electronic warfare, cyber warfare, optical warfare, and spectrum warfare.

Embedded Computing Report

Monthly newsletter covering news on embedded computing in aerospace, defense and industrial-rugged applications

Unmanned Vehicles

Monthly newsletter covering news updates for designers of unmanned vehicles