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JTRS Now Aboard UAVs

The US Army has fitted Joint Tactical Radio Systems (JTRS) to Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in order to increase communication range, relay time and operational effectiveness.

Of those platforms currently taking to the skies of New Mexico, the Aerostat blimp and Shadow UAV have JTRS integrated, extending the line-of-sight network and enabling the delivery of real time data from air to ground, including video, voice and high resolution imagery.

JTRS Service Integration (Source: U.S. Navy)

Speaking about the project – termed NIE (Network Integration Evaluation) – Captain Jeff Hoyle, programme manager for JTRS Network Enterprise Domain at the U.S. Navy, believes the use of unmanned systems to enhance communications in this way has already demonstrated genuine results. “The aerial layer is working well,” he said of the efforts to widen the terrestrial network by propping it up higher with loitering aerial nodes. “It increases the range of the WNW (Wideband Networking Waveform) and SRW (Soldier Radio Waveform) and expands the overall network.”

While the Shadow UAV carries single-channel JTRS Rifleman Radios, the Aerostat blimp boasts a four-channel programmable JTRS Ground Mobile Radio on top of a two-channel JTRS Handheld Manpack Radio. JTRS allows the Army to build a reliable communications blanket between troops, command stations, and other mobile units within potentially inhospitable environments where satellites may not be to hand.

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