JTRS Radio Costs Rising Rapidly
The price tag to develop software waveforms for the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) jumped $339 million in the last quarter of 2004, according to a U.S. Defense Department report released last month.
DOD launched the JTRS program in the late 1990s to develop a family of tactical radios based on software-programmable architecture that have networking capabilities and can work on a wide range of frequencies at varying data rates. It has sometimes been described as a computer with a radio interface. DID has covered issues with the JTRS Cluster 1 program in some detail, including both the potential benefits if the system works and the April 26 “show cause” letter to Boeing that could result in contract cancellation.
The quarterly Selected Acquisition Report (SAR) released by the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics said total costs for Boeing’s JTRS Cluster 1 program for vehicle-mounted JTRS radios have now spiraled from a base-year price tag of $15.1 billion to $21.6 billion. General Dynamics’ JTRS Cluster 5 program, designed to develop handheld, manpack and embedded radios, saw its program costs increase from base-year price tag of $8.6 billion to $11 billion. The per-unit cost for JTRS Cluster 1 radios now sits around $270,000, while the JTRS Cluster 5 has an estimated per unit cost of $10,000.
JTRS waveform software has now cost $1.3 billion and overall program costs continue to increase, due in large part to requirements changes as the program has progressed and the challenges of developing cutting-edge technology. The quarterly SAR noted that the 34.5% increase in costs stemmed primarily from additional waveform development requirements. The report did not provide any additional details, but as DID has noted before, developing a networking waveform capable of supporting data rates up to 2 megabits/sec has been a hurdle for JTRS.
Robert Martinage, an analyst with the Center for Strategic & Budgetary Assessments in Washington, DC contends that rising JTRS costs are not really out of line with cost increases in past military programs of this nature. He added that the JTRS program still faces significant technology challenges, however, including the need to incorporate some 20 “critical technologies which are not mature” into the radios.
- Federal Computer Weekly (May 10, 2005) – JTRS costs leap higher
- DID (May 16, 2005) – Israel Aims for Net-Centric Warfare With Tsayad Program