Recent tests discover new flaws in JTRS manpack radios

GD Manpack radio

WHITE SANDS, Nev., 27 Oct. 2012. J. Michael Gilmore, Director of the Operational Test and Evaluation Directorate for the United States Department of Defense, recently released a memo about the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) manpack radio and its performance in recent Network Integration Evaluations.

The memo states that the JTRS dismounted manpack radios have had inconsistent voice quality, poor reliability, and heat problems during tests in June 2011 and March 2012. Because of these flaws, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Developmental Test and Evaluation said that the Manpack radio was not sufficiently mature to conduct the planned multiservice operational test and evaluation (MOT&E) May 2012.

During the May MOT&E over 60 essential function failures were recorded. Afterwards the Manpack PM identified 14 separate hardware and software flaws that the contractor had attempted to fix prior to the September government development test (GDT). The contractor, General Dynamics C4 Systems, asserted that RF background noise was a factor in the test.

In the memo, Gilmore said "the noise floor in the White Sands Missile Range desert is similar to that of fort Huachuca and less than what would be found in the common urban terrain the radios are expected to operate in, among a full brigade's worth of emitters." After the assertion that RF background noise was a problem, an additional RF noise measurement was conducted. The measurement showed low background RF noise levels in the SINCGARS frequency band, "directly disproving the contractor's assertion that RF noise was an issue during the test", according to Gilmore.

The September GDT in September showed better SINCGARS performance, but the test was performed in a benign test environment. Due to the benign test environment, Gilmore said, "it [the test] was insufficient to conclusively demonstrate that the flaws seen during the MOT&E have been satisfactorily addressed." Four new hardware and software flaws were also discovered in the September tests.

The memo states that the new JTRS Manpack flaws will need to be addressed before it is ready to pass realistic operational tests.

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