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Field tests in 2011 and 2012 reveal new flaws in JTRS manpack radios

WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, N.M.-The U.S. military's Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS)-the centerpiece of the Pentagon's software-defined radio technology of the future-has shown substandard performance in voice quality, reliability, and its ability to dissipate heat, say U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) officials.

J. Michael Gilmore, director of the Operational Test and Evaluation Directorate for the DOD, released a memo about JTRS manpack radio performance in recent Network Integration Evaluations, which found the military radio lacking. The memo states that the JTRS manpack radios for infantrymen 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); during the MOT&E, more than 60 essential function failures were recorded. Afterward, the Manpack PM identified 14 separate hardware and software flaws that the contractor had attempted to fix prior to the Sept. government development test (GDT).

General Dynamics C4 Systems, asserted that RF background noise was a factor in the test. An additional RF noise measurement was conducted. The measurement showed low background RF noise levels in the SINCGARS frequency band.

The September tests showed better SINCGARS performance, but four new hardware and software flaws were discovered. These new JTRS Manpack flaws will need to be addressed before it is ready to pass realistic operational tests, according to Gilmore.

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