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JTRS Ground Radio Takes Budget Axe

by: Matthew Potter
October 17, 2011

Category: bad news, Boeing, Companies, Congress, Department of Defense, development program, Events, Federal Budget Process, IT, production program, Restructuring, Services, U.S. Army | RSS 2.0

Boeing (BA) formally received word from the U.S. Department of Defense that the proposed new radio for use in vehicles and by ground troops would be terminated. Boeing was performing on a contract to develop the system for production and qualify potential vendors for this part of the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) which will also have ship and air based versions. JTRS has been in development for several years to replace the U.S. and it’s Allies SINCGARS radio.

The decision was made due to concerns that the procurement costs the system would be much higher then originally thought. At this time as part of the overall budget plans the U.S. is making to try and reduce not only their annual deficits but the total of over $14 trillion in existing debt the Defense Department and the Services are under pressure to come up with a large amount of cuts. Some estimates are as high as $100 billion a year.

While a lot of work had gone into JTRS the program was at an easy stage to end. The contract with Boeing was set to end early next year as it transitioned to production. This means termination costs will be limited. It also means that a great deal of the work already done may be used by the new radio program already announced. That means the DOD will get some return for their investment.

Reportedly the Army had recommended termination as part of their budget proposal as the JTRS recently tested in a large exercise had many issues. These were not necessarily related to the design or construction but did indicate that the radio might have future issues when it went into service.

Canceling production of this program will save billions each year but there is still a requirement for a new radio and a new effort is part of the plan. Money from the current JTRS effort will be transferred to a new line to begin again. The new plan focuses on designing capabilities and then asking manufacturers to make systems that can work with the software rather then building a whole new hardware piece.

In order to make the kind of cuts being talked about the U.S. military will lose many more new programs as well as soldiers, ships, aircraft and support personnel. The example of the U.K. comes to mind which if the U.S. is similar will see the loss of a great deal of capability.

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