Friday, March 11, 2011

Key Army radio system has a 72 percent failure rate

Story by Bob Brewin on

The Defense Department's top weapons tester told lawmakers at a hearing Wednesday that a key component of the Army's battlefield network now in development failed 72 percent of the time in tests last year. The network is the centerpiece of the service's modernization strategy, according to testimony by Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli at the same hearing.

The Ground Mobile Radio version of the Joint Tactical Radio System worked so poorly in secure voice mode that the combat unit conducting the tests last year at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico had to rely on runners for communications, something "the Army has not done since World War II," J. Michael Gilmore, Defense's director of operational test and evaluation, said at a hearing of the Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces of the House Armed Services Committee.

The Army plans to install the Boeing-developed Ground Mobile Radio in its tactical vehicles, as well as use it to transmit broadband data across the battlefield along with voice communications, Chiarelli said. But the Army needs to demonstrate it can work in a 20- to 30-node network in tests at White Sands this summer, Gilmore said.

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