updated 06:00 pm EDT, Tue October 26, 2010
US Army working on cheap intel system for troops
The US Army may be capable of sending surveillance video images from aircraft drones to troops' cellphones within two years, a Tuesday report said. Called the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS), it should send images from the battlefield to soldiers waiting on the ground. The program is under development and is expected to be launched in 2014, said Tim Owings, deputy program manager for Army unnamed aerial systems.
Another option that would achieve the same means is self-contained 4G networks, Owings said at the yearly Association of the US Army conference.
Working on creating such an ultra-secure network are Textron, Raytheon, L-3 Communications Holdings and Sierra Nevada Corp. This option would result in smaller contracts, but they would help the Pentagon become more efficient and save money.
Such a system would be compatible with commercially available handsets, bringing down costs. Field testing could piggyback on a larger test of unnamed aerial systems and networks scheduled for September. Training troops would also be relatively simple and cost-efficient, as many troops are already familiar with smartphones.