After a decade of development, the family of digital communications devices known as the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS, or “Jitters”) is approaching production. The JTRS architecture features “software reprogrammable” radios that can add new types of signals simply by downloading computer code rather than installing new hardware, making them intrinsically cheaper to maintain and upgrade. All the radios in the family share common interface standards that facilitate communication among diverse users and units so the joint force can operate in an agile, integrated fashion. The most capable variants, such as Boeing’s Ground Mobile Radio, will support a “wideband networking waveform” that can transmit megabits of data per second across the battlefield, easily bypassing geographical and manmade obstacles by turning every node in the network into a relay for signals. I have written an assessment of the Joint Tactical Radio System’s operational potential and political challenges for Forbes that can be found here.
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