Top Pentagon tester blasts JTRS manpack radio

General Dynamics needs to prove it works in the 'realistic' White Sand test environment, memo says.

The General Dynamics C4 Systems Joint Tactical System Radio manpack radio had far from the “exceptional” performance the company claimed in tests at the Fort Huachuca, Ariz., Electronic Proving Ground, J. Michael Gilmore, director of operational test and evaluation for the Defense Department, said in a scorching memo.

The manpack flunked tests at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., this spring and Chris Marzilli, president of General Dynamics C4 system unit, put the blame partly on a noisy RF environment at White Sands.

Gilmore, in his memo, torpedoed that claim by pointing out White Sands better represented real world combat conditions than what he called the “benign … test environment” at Fort Huachuca.

General Dynamics did fix some problems identified in the White Sands tests, but the latest round of tests at Fort Huachuca “revealed four new hardware or software flaws which the contractor will have to address to enable the radio to meet reliability requirements” when the manpack uses Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System (SINCGARS) waveform. A waveform is software that defines bandwidth, radio frequency, modulation, security and data rates.

Gilmore concluded that the manpack was not ready for combat use and emphasized that General Dynamics needs to prove it works in the “realistic" White Sand test environment.