The Pentagon has awarded defense heavyweight Lockheed Martin the contract for next-stage development of the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS), a new-generation radio technology that will replace dozens of legacy systems throughout the U.S. military (PDF).
Initial design and development costs for this phase, called Airborne Maritime and Fixed Station, will run $800 million to $1.2 billion, with a potential $10 billion more for full production later. Boeing and Lockheed Martin worked on separate preliminary designs for the new programmable, tactical radio system, but only Lockheed nailed the contract.
The Department of Defense initiated the JTRS program in 1997 to bring military communications into the network-centric digital age. The program, which could ultimately result in the replacement of hundreds of thousands of radios, has been plagued by massive cost overruns (PDF) and lack of vision. This contract signals a major step forward.
Incorporating advanced software and network capabilities for secure voice, text, and video communications that can operate across the frequency spectrum, the AMF JTRS is expected to enable any ad hoc mobile wireless network of vehicles and planes to connect instantly using the Wideband Networking Waveform.
That is, if it's not obsolete by the time it hits the quartermaster's shelf.