JTRS manpack finally works

The radio flunked tests over the summer.

The Joint Tactical Radio System manpack developed by General Dynamics' C4 Systems turned in an “exceptional” performance in tests just completed at the Army Electronic Proving Ground in Fort Huachuca, Ariz., Chris Marzilli, president of the unit told me.

The radio flunked earlier tests over the summer at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., when running the Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System (SINCGARS) waveform. A waveform is software that defines bandwidth, radio frequency, modulation, security and data rates.

Marzilli blamed those poor results on the noisy RF environment at White Sands and poor configuration of the radio when installed in vehicles -- problems resolved in the Fort Huachuca tests.

When operating in the SINCGARS mode, the manpack had a peak range of 36 kilometers in the latest round of tests versus seven kilometers at White Sands. Voice quality showed improvement over its performance at White Sands tests, where testers said SINCGARS voice quality “was often poor, garbled and unintelligible.”

Based on the results of these tests, Marzilli said the Pentagon issued a low rate production order for 3,726 radios yesterday, valued at just under $300 million, according to industry and service insiders.

The manpack still weighs in at 14.6 pounds or a wee bit too heavy for my former radio operator back muscles, a problem Marzilli recognizes and wants to fix.

More tomorrow on this when I hear back from the Army.