Reader Question Re: JTRS – What is a Software Definable Radio?

This is jumping the gun as I’m still developing the JTRS articles, so hang with me as we develop this relatively complex technology and synthesize it into something that is digestible by a non-technical reader.

The Joint Services presently own a plethora of radio communications equipment all of which are limited to specific functionality and expensive to maintain. The Joint Tactical Radio System or JTRS attempts to greatly reduce the number of discrete radio types and models by implementing a software definable radio (SDR).

Think of the SDR as a computer running a number of emulations interconnected by a standard multithreaded operating environment like UNIX (this is an example to help you visualize the concept).

You’ll hear the term waveform used in conjunction with the JTRS project. As the term is used in JTRS a waveform represents the entire functionality of an existing communications product. For example, SINCGARS radios are used extensively by ground forces. The JTRS product will be able to load, in software, a SINCGARS waveform. Under the control of this software load, the JTRS radio will emulate all of the functionality of a SINCGARS radio. That functionality includes the codec, encryption, modulation and frequency band as well as the frequency hopping characteristics.

JTRS is a complex technology but hang in there and I’ll get you through it.

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