recommended reading

Battlefield networks remain Army's top modernization priority

The Army is asking Congress for $1.9 billion in 2013 to field two tactical communications systems, Barbara Bonessa, the service's deputy budget director, told reporters at a Pentagon briefing Monday. Bonessa noted the Army continues to view battlefield networks as its No. 1 modernization priority.

Both systems experienced problems in field tests at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., in 2011.

To support ongoing network modernization, the Army's proposed procurement budget includes $556 million for the Joint Tactical Radio System, which would cover the purchase of 5,900 8-pound short-range Rifleman Radios; 4,600 larger and longer-range backpack radios; and 110 Airborne and Maritime Fixed Station, or AMF, radios, Bonessa said.

The 2013 budget request also includes $893 million in procurement funding for the Warrior Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) Increment 2, the service's backbone tactical communications network. The money would pay for 2,166 terminals and associated equipment, enough to equip seven brigade combat teams, she said. In addition, he budget includes $278 million for research and development and $54.9 million for spare parts for WIN-T.

The second increment of WIN-T, developed by General Dynamics C4 Systems, is designed to provide commanders moving across a battlefield with broadband and voice communications via satellite or a relay through an unmanned aerial vehicle. Troops who tested the on-the-move capability of WIN-T at the Army network integration evaluation exercise at White Sands in November 2011 said the system had problems that made voice communications difficult.

Spec. Allison Ferrone, radio operator for the commander of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, which conducted the evaluation, said at the time, "voice comms over satellite are broken up. We can hear people crystal-clear, but they have a hard time hearing us." She attributed the breakdown to a problem endemic to any satellite system -- latency, or the time delay a signal experiences as it makes a 50,000-mile round trip up to a satellite and back down to the ground.

Michael Gilmore, the Defense Department's director of operational test and evaluation, said tests reported to Congress in January showed that the JTRS backpack radio, also developed by General Dynamics C4 Systems, experienced a range of problems in the June 2011 network integration evaluation at White Sands.

That radio "demonstrated problems with reliability, transmission range and voice quality that restricted the unit's ability to accomplish its mission. These same problems were observed during the curtailed period of developmental testing," Gilmore reported to Congress.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.