Army plans key radio system that operates in frequency band slated for auction

By Bob Brewin

July 10, 2012

The Army plans to buy broadband radios for tactical vehicles that operate in frequency bands the Obama administration intends to auction off for commercial use within the next decade.

When the service originally announced its procurement for the vehicle radio system in February, it planned to buy radios over a five-year period to plug communications gaps that soldiers identified in a network integration evaluation at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., in November 2011.

The Army said the new vehicle radio will connect the foxhole to brigade tactical operations centers and communicate with systems that connect brigades to battlefield networks.

The Army tweaked that procurement in an amendment released July 3, which said the service planned to buy an indefinite number of vehicle radios through 2022.

The vehicle radios will run the government-owned Soldier Radio Waveform -- software the Joint Tactical Radio System program developed during the past decade that defines bandwidth, modulation and frequency -- and will operate on multiple frequencies, including the 1755-1850 MHz frequency band, targeted for auction to commercial carriers by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration in March.

NTIA wants to move 20 federal agencies that have more than 3,100 individual frequency assignments in the 1755-1850 MHz band to new spectrum above 2 GHz. But, in its report on the auction and planned spectrum shift, the agency said moving the JTRS radios, which represent the core of the Army’s vehicle radio system, “is not achievable without significant engineering modifications.”

Paul Mehney, a spokesman for the Army's System of Systems Integration Directorate, said the Army is aware that NTIA plans to auction off the 1755-1850 MHz band and said the vehicle radios could be switched to other frequencies in what is known as the L-band. The Army specified the vehicle radios also should operate in the 1250-1390MHz and 1850-2000 MHz bands.


By Bob Brewin

July 10, 2012

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