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ISSN 1416-300X Volume 11, Issue 3 December 2008

SINCGARS Powers Ahead

BATTLESPACE interviewed Delos ‘De’ Anderson, Senior Product Manager for SINCGARS at ITT’s huge Fort Wayne radio plant, regarded as the largest radio facility in the world.

“Have you seen a downturn in SINCGARS sales in the run up to JTRS deployment?” The Editor asked.

“No. We are currently producing 5300 a month, one every 3.5 minutes!” Anderson told the Editor. “And we can still increase production if required.”

“What are the current production numbers and how many SINCGARS are on order?”

“SINCGARS is the most successful tactical radio model ever produced. We have produced more than 400,000 of all types and 75,000 on order with a total order book which brings the number up to approximately 525,000. The Current Force is continuing to buy additional radios as the Army’s Combat Net radio of choice, which will, overtime, integrate into JTRS. The Army is currently fielding the latest version 1523-F to the National Guard and the Army Reserve. The US Marine Corps currently has 30,000 ITT SINCGARS fielded.”

“Is ITT expected to remain sole source for SINCGARS for the foreseeable future?”

“No, the Department of the Army will conduct a full and open competition for 55-56,000 SINCGARS radios next year.”

“Are you planning any SINCGARS enhancements to the existing range?”

“Yes, we are under contract for a Radio-Based Combat ID software which will soon be under evaluation in Arizona. Once proven, this system will be loaded into new radios with a software upgrade during routine maintenance. This Government-owned software will give the warfighter the capability to integrate and get ID responses to prevent blue-on-blue attacks. There is also a separate Responder Box with the same software features which can be fitted to a vehicle or other equipment which do not have radios. We are looking for a production order in early 2009.”

“How does it work?”

“We have developed combat ID software which is built into the SINCGARS radio or can be attached to a non-SINCGARS radio via this box. The system then broadcasts its position to a friendly aircraft, UAV or ground vehicle equipped with a SINCGARS radio or RBCI system. It is cheap and easy to fit and the fact that we have a large installed base makes this appealing. We hope to develop the system further to fit directly into an aircraft Sniper Pod. The next stage is to explore incorporating the system into FBCB2 so that Situational Awareness is logged on the system thus eliminating any potential fratricides.

“Can this system be exported under current ITAR restrictions?”

“We are moving in that direction and we have considerable NATO and UK interest in the system after their participation in Bold Quest.”

Radio Based Combat Identification (RBCI) is the latest capability added to the combat proven SINCGARS family of tactical radios. RBCI helps save lives by speeding up target location and identification. This is a software-only solution to the combat identification challenge. The SINCGARS family of tactical radios supported by Radio Based Combat Identification includes the ASIP, the Airborne, and the Spearhead platforms.

Using broadcast interrogations from land or airborne platforms RBCI equipped SINCGARS can correlate their location with that of interrogators to identify themselves as “friendlies” in a target zone. The interrogations consist of a set of GPS coordinates that are transmitted, processed and returned so that the engagement is transparent to the warfighter.

Similar to a traditional Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) system, individual targets can be interrogated or whole areas can be interrogated to detect the presence of friendly forces. The interrogation can also be relayed by an intermediate SINCGARS RBCI platform to extend the range to far-out or dug-in warfighters.

SINCGARS RBCI functions include interrogation broadcast, interrogation relay and interrogation response. Currently, all the RBCI functions are supported by the ground platform, only interrogator broadcast in the airborne platform and only interrogation response in the dismounted platform. In addition to SINCGARS RBCI, the Pocket Forward Entry Device (PFED) provides a graphical interface to display a common picture of the battlefield. Coupled with a Laser Range Finder (LRF) device, forward observers have the ability to “laze” a target area, automatically interrogate that area, and display the results on the PFED.

SpearNet radio

SpearNet was introduced to warfighters and others interested in obtaining network centric radio capability immediately.

At 11 ounces, the 5 1/4 inch long SpearNet is optimized for ease of operations with no knobs or displays for a soldier to worry about. The pocket-sized device utilizes ad hoc networking to bring individuals full situational awareness without the need of creating or monitoring network operations. SpearNet automatically organizes, maintains and even heals itself so warfighters are left free to concentrate on the battlefield.

Because SpearNet can be programmed, warfighters can carry one device that offers them the ability to collaboratively plan their actions and network to a host of applications like intelligence reports and blue force tracking.

The SpearNet system is based on work carried out by ITT Industries on the HMT, EHMT and SUO SAS projects. Utilising the self-forming, self-healing waveform with Multihop and Wideband spread spectrum with multipath mitigation the system can transmit through buildings. This capability was clearly demonstrated by the company by sending digital photographs and voice from seven stories below in the street up to the conference room. In addition to these features the system has situational awareness with inbuilt GPS, which updates automatically.

Performance is second to none with >1.5 Mbps user data throughput with a range of up to 1km in urban areas. Other features include hands-free operation, near real-time text messaging and digital imagery forwarding. The radio weighs less than 11oz.

SpearNet has been launched at a critical time for the coalition forces in Iraq. With increasing requirements for urban operations, existing systems cannot function efficiently in built-up areas.

SpearNet’s functionality is based on the UHF spectrum which gives more agility and security for this type of radio. SpearNet is not a high assurance radio like the Thales MBITR or the Harris 152, thus the user does not require security clearance,” Larry Williams continued.

SpearNet offers the capability to form and re-form networks on the move and in formation headquarters. For the British market, ITT claims that SpearNet will meet the UK FRES requirement, providing secure voice communications on and off vehicles. And ITT also sees SpearNet as a serious contender for the UK FIST programme with it IP addressable capability.

In a headquarters, SpearNet will give users the ability to form instant networks running Office applications. It requires no base-station but transmits through multi-hopping across the full extent of the network. It can be connected to current UK BOWMAN through the HDCR radio and maintains high levels of security through operating. Each SpearNet set contains GPS, 8 pre-set channels and dual frequency monitoring.

“How is SpearNet progressing?”

“It has come a long way since its launch which you witnessed at AUSA in 2004,” Larry Williams said

“We have already made sales of SpearNet to the Spanish Army and the radios are literally jumping off the shelf as they are built. We see it as key part of any infantry system such as FIST in the U.K. where there has been considerable interest. In the U.S., Future Warrior is using an ITT radio. We have also deployed it under test with Systematic who have used it to great effect with their Boarding ID system.”

In July ITT announced that the Defence & Security (DS) division of EADS selected ITT Communications Systems to provide its SpearNet radio system for the Full-Scale Engineering Development (FSED) phase of Spain’s Combatiente del Futuro (COMFUT), a comprehensive military modernization program. The SpearNet radio will provide the backbone for voice, data and video communications for the Spanish Army. ITT will provide its SpearNet radio and related products, as well as perform engineering services, to support EADS during the development phase of COMFUT with a potential follow-on contract for production in the future. The Spanish Army’s COMFUT program is a dismounted soldier modernization program that, in addition to radios, includes new armor protection, rifle with night vision sights, chemical/biological protection suits, helmets, body computer, and other modern infantry requirements. In addition, SpearNet has been chosen for the Spanish Army’s FCS-type system, SAZEC, Sistema De Armas De Zona Effecto Contrapersonal. SpearNet systems complete the man-in-the-loop for SAZEC providing connectivity for the distributed sensor, weapon and robotic systems.

“How do you see ITT positioned in JTRS and FCS?”

“The ITT Soldier radio Waveform (SRW) is crucial to the overall success of FCS. The huge increase in purchases of SINCGARS is not the interim buy seen by some of our competitors it is because the Army has seen that SRW can fulfil a gap in the waveform requirements. We see SRW taking over a lot of the WNW role with GMR.”

“How is ITT placed in the airborne radio market?”

“We have always been strong in airborne radios with our ARC-201D in particular on Blackhawk and Apache helicopters.” De Anderson said. “However the EDO acquisition has given us added airborne capability. EDO is the world leader in airborne antennas and reportedly has an antenna on every aircraft type in production.”

The combined capabilities of ITT and EDO results in a highly capable organization, uniquely qualified to design both competitive and complex antennas and systems inclusive of phased arrays, controllers, direction finding systems with receiver front ends, butler matrices, built-in-test, as well as platform integrated composite radiating structures.

Technology includes military or commercial installations on fixed wing aircraft, ships, submarines, helicopters, tiltrotor aircraft, Remotely Piloted Vehicles (RPV's), electronic pods, as well as ground fixed and mobile platforms. The complete product line encompasses well over one thousand products, and no other manufacturer has more antennas in current operation. This strong technology base combined with high volume production manufacturing truly presents the optimum combination of design capability and cost competitiveness to our customers.

“We are developing a new business in support of our antenna products in service with the US Navy, Army and USAF. We have established a service centre at San Diego.”

“Is the US Navy taking ITT radios?”

“Yes we are beginning to field the naval version of the NTDR with the US Navy. As you know it has performed very well as the HCDR data network radio with the Royal Marines and we have considerable interest from other navies. The NTDR is also fielded with the Stryker Brigades, where it works in conjunction with EPLRS providing TOC-t0-TOC data connectivity under an ad hoc self-forming network. These will eventually be replaced with the JTRS HMR radio with the WNW waveform. We are also developing a new version of our Standard Fit Side Hat radio, originally developed with Raytheon with General Dynamics for the HMR Program.

“Do you see a gradual erosion of your market position when JTRS is deployed?”

“No, the DoD no longer envisages the Big Bang approach to JTRS deployment. We are working closely with our JTRS colleagues to see a gradual transition to JTRS. In addition we see our Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW) as crucial to the success of JTRS.”

The SRW software application will operate on JTRS sets to provide voice, data, and video tactical communications services in support of network-centric operations. 

In April ITT was awarded a $7,585,314 cost-plus-incentive-fee modification to a previously awarded contract for Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW) by The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center. The cumulative amount of the contract including this modification includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to an estimated $92,366,305. Work will be performed in Clifton, N.J., (90 percent) and Fort Wayne, Ind., (10 percent) and is expected to be completed by Nov. 2008. If all options are exercised, work could continue until Jan. 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. 

The Future

A year is a long time in defence terms and 2008 could be seen as the year when ITT with the EDO acquisition under its belt and the crucial FAA ATC contract rise to become the major defense electronic system supplier in the United States.

Already ranked Number 10 in the list of contractors, ITT is carving out a strategic niche in electronic systems.


MicroLight Infantry Radio

Earlier this year Raytheon gave BATTLESPACE an update on its software radio activities during a recent interview with Tim Strobel, Technical Director, Raytheon Datalink Programs and Jeff Jones, Manager Raytheon JTRS Programs.

Tim Strobel gave BATTLESPACE an update on the EPLRS MicroLight radio currently being fielded for the reinvigorated U.S. Army Land Warrior Program.

“In 2007 Land Warrior received a considerable makeover with the system being slimmed down and thus reducing the overall weight by several pounds,” Strobel said.

The EPLRS MicroLitght 2nd Generation radio provides tactical internet connectivity for the Land Warrior ensemble fielded to Stryker units. The M2G radio is a small, Internet Protocol-based, data radio that can be used for a host of applications. It exploits the EPLRS networking waveform. The version with the Universal Serial Bus interface has received Type-1 certification with the National Security Agency and is used in the LW program. There is also a version with an Ethernet interface.

"Our goal, out in Fullerton at our Datalink program, is to ‘Network Individuals’," said Strobel. “In particular, two [markets] that we see as unmet markets: dismounted infantrymen and netted sensors. And that's where we're trying to go with MicroLight. MicroLight has been used by Thales in its recent fielding for the U.K.’s FIST Programme. The FIST version is the Non-Type 1, DH500 exportable version. There is also considerable interest from Australia and Canada. Encryption is consistent across all platforms, thus the system is interoperable. The radio also has a unique MeshNetworking waveform which does not require line-of-sight. The radio automatically stores forward information and forms a self-forming, self-healing network giving up to 8 hops over many kilometres with up to 2kms on a single hop. Embedded GPS allows the radio to automatically report its position.”

Developed to support the Army's "Land Warrior" program, the radio comes in two configurations: secure but unclassified; and Type 1 encryption. The secure but unclassified configuration measures 6.9 inches x 3.2 inches x 1.6 inches and weighs 17.2 ounces. Type 1 encryption adds four additional ounces. The system is powered off the Land Warrior battery. Designed as a software programmable radio, MicroLight brings Voice over Internet Protocol, collaborative planning and the ability to network commercial host applications to the battlefield. Initially, the radio will be configured to run the EPLRS waveform, a core Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) waveform that will provide a path toward JTRS Cluster 5. The next step in MicroLight's development is compliance with the Software Communications Architecture so that the radio can support other essential communication waveforms.

The MicroLight Type 1 encrypted model is in service as part of Land Warrior, with one Battalion fielded with 500 radios. An additional Brigade was equipped early in 2009. This Brigade will be deployed to Iraq.

"It's a small but powerful network radio that cuts several pounds from a soldier's equipment load,” Strobel said. “With MicroLight, soldiers carry one radio, one set of batteries, and one antenna. No other radio offers so much capability in such a small a package. The MicroLight's design is a true 'system on a chip' that includes embedded processors running a real-time operating system, networking software, signal processing and more. Raytheon is the first to develop a software defined radio utilizing the Xilinx Virtex II Pro PowerPC and MicroBlaze soft processor core, on a single field-programmable gate array.”

According to Strobel, the software-defined MicroLight hosts the EPLRS high capacity data waveform. He added that in the large radios that waveform goes up to a megabit per second, and that same data rate has been carried over to the MicroLight. Additional waveforms are currently being integrated under company funding.

“When running the EPLRS waveform, MicroLight will allow Land Warrior troops to communicate among themselves and with other members of the Army's Tactical Internet.” Strobel said.

Demonstrations of MicroLight started in April 2004 with the Department of the Army submitting a JTRS waiver request to the Office of Secretary of Defense for 5986 radios the same month.

MicroLight Developments

In September this year, BATTLESPACE was given an update to the MicroLight Program by Bob King, Handheld Product Line Manager, Raytheon Company at its Fullerton facility.

“How has MicroLight developed since the Department of the Army started its trials?” the Editor asked.

“The Program has come a long way since then and we have developed a new version, DH500, a more advanced version of the MicroLight Second Generation.” King said.

“Is this the version being fielded in Iraq?”

“No the MicroLight Second generation or DM200 (called the RT_1922 by the US Army) is the version fielded by the U.S. Army. The Army purchased 500 for trials in 2006 which were fielded in theatre with 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment of the 4th SBCT. Earlier this year the DoD funded a new Brigade of Land Warrior which will be equipped with 1000 RT-1922s.

“The latest version, which we are trialling all over the world, is the DH500.”

“How does DH500 vary from the DM200?”

“Both radios have the EPLRS waveform and thus allow for ‘time of flight measurement’ which allows the radio to be used and located in non-GPS areas such as built up areas and in buildings. The DM200 has the Type 1 crypto, thus it is fully interoperable with the thousands of EPLRS radios in service. The DH500 has a non-Type 1 AES-256 highly secure crypto and is thus exportable under ITAR regulations. However DH500 is completely hand-held with a new keypad and display which allows for better flexibility and more settings.”

“Can you run streaming video over the radio?”

“Yes, this is a key to the new radio and the cause of a lot of DoD and international interest. The DH500 has built in USB and Ethernet interfaces and thus can be easily hooked up to a video camera and laptop. It’s 1 megabit per second data rate make for a clear streaming video across a large network with the receiving node being as many as 8 hops away.”

“Which countries have expressed interest?”

“Last week we were down-selected by the UK FIST IPT where we will go the next stage of putting our bids in by October 14th, with Main Gate in early 2009. We have radios on trials with a number of customers. Australia is of particular interest where we are bidding to become the comms bearer to Elbit who has been selected for the Land 125/75 Requirement.”

“What other countries are expressing interest?”

“As you know most countries are looking at infantry systems but the main interest is coming from Canada, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Korea with Singapore putting its requirement on hold for the time being.” Bob King concluded.

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