The U.S. Army’s Tac Net Proving Grounds



By Dean ~ August 24th, 2011. Filed under: SDR & SCA.

Defense Systems had a really interesting article covering the recent Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) conducted at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico and the (relatively) nearby Fort Bliss in Texas.

Image of an AN/PRC-154 Rifleman Radio handset

AN/PRC-154 Rifleman Radio
(Image Credit: General Dynamics C4 Systems)

While we do our very best with the design part of these things, the real proof is actually out in the sand, mountains and heat.  It’s very rewarding to hear that the radios really do work in the field (although I guess that the news wasn’t so good for GMR).

During the evaluation, the brigade’s soldiers worked with the equipment, but their goal was not to destroy or coddle it. “Our job is to employ these capabilities in a realistic situation. If it breaks, we’re going to take note of that,” Juergens said.

One of the primary goals of the NIE was stress-testing the Joint Tactical Radio Systems Ground Mobile Radio (GMR) and Handheld Manpack Small Form Fit radios. Because most battalions involved in the exercise were motorized, the HMS devices were mounted in MRAPs. Dismounted troops used some, and others were placed in command posts.

Image of the AN/PRC-154 Rifleman Radio

AN/PRC-154 Rifleman Radio
Image Credit: GDC4S

The HMS radios were used to simultaneously run three waveforms, the Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW), a satellite communications waveform and the Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System (SINCGARS). Besides testing the waveforms during operational conditions, the NIE examined how the HMS radios scaled and operated in a network. For this initial event, most of the work was focused on connecting and maintaining voice communications, said HMS program manager Col. John Zavarelli.

Testing the range and scalability of the JTRS waveforms was perhaps the most important part of the NIE, said Col. John Wendel, deputy program executive officer for network integration at the Army PEO-Integration.

The Wideband Networking Waveform (WNW) and SRW are the backbone of the JTRS communications networks. “It’s less about the program, the contract or the provider,” Wendel said. “It’s more about finally getting those waveforms mature so we can openly compete them with industry and port them onto hardware agnostic radios.”

I’ll resist the urge to quote the whole, rather long, article.  Just go read it.  You’ll be glad that you did.

There’s also a nice little editorial that lends a bit of a personal touch to the coverage of the evaluation.

We do Performance Engineering to ensure that these systems work as promised when it really counts.


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