News From Washington

SINCGARS Radios to Retain Dominance

According to a recent analysis conducted by Teal Group Corp., the well-established Single-channel Ground and Airborne Radio System (SINCGARS) will retain its dominance over many of the proposed new digital radios into the next decade. An estimated 300,000 radios valued at $2.5 B will be built over the next 10 years –– more than double the 200,000 radios produced up to the end of 1997. The SINCGARS, which is the standard secure combat net radio used by the US Army, Navy and Marine Corps, includes a family of manpack, vehicular and airborne VHF/FM radios featuring a high resistance to surveillance, interception and jamming. It has also been sold to several foreign countries, including Saudi Arabia and those in Eastern Europe.

Factors that are boosting SINCGARS production include follow-on orders for ITT Corp.’s half-sized Advanced Lightweight SINCGARS System Improvement Program radios as well as the US Army’s order for 68,000 new radios worth $350 M in 1997 and 1998. Additional SINCGARS development is expected to result from the UK’s £2 B Bowman radio program, which is being developed by ITT’s Archer team (comprising Siemens Plessey and Racal).

Due to concerns about the availability of the next generation of digital radios, Teal is forecasting that another 4000 Enhanced Position Location Reporting System digital data radios will be built from now until 2003, tripling the US Army’s initial order. In addition, the US Marine Corps and ANG/AFRES are accelerating and increasing their orders following success in Army digitization exercises.

According to David Rockwell, lead analyst for Teal Group’s Military Electronics Briefing, the Joint Tactical Radio program eventually may round up the current service-specific plans such as Digital Modular Radio, Programmable Digital Radio, Multiband Multimode Radio and Future Digital Radio, but it is uncertain when production will begin and the inevitable push-pull for commonality will slow the process further. Due to a lack of funding, Rockwell does not expect production to begin until the middle of the next decade.

Lawsuit Filed over FBI’s Wiretap Equipment Rules

Acting on behalf of the wireless telephone industry, the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) and the Personal Communications Industry Association (PCIA) have filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) seeking relief from FBI wiretap requirements that the associations believe go beyond the intent of Congress. The groups describe the FBI specifications as "arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion and not in accordance with law." The issue raised in the lawsuit regards installation of wiretap equipment by telephone companies.

In 1994 (with the enthusiastic support of the telecommunications industry), Congress passed the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), which was intended to upgrade law enforcement’s surveillance tools in the digital age. One of the Act’s provisions stated that the cost of upgrading equipment (up to $500 M) installed or deployed as of January 1, 1995 would be borne by government and the cost of equipment deployed after that date would be borne by the telephone companies. The subject of the lawsuit claims that the FBI has redefined the meaning of "deployed" to suit its needs and shift the cost to the consumer.

According to the CTIA and PCIA, system build out had not occurred or equipment was not shipped in some instances because the Federal Communications Commission had not issued licenses. The FBI claims that this equipment is ineligible because it was not in service as of December 31, 1994. The FBI also asserts that if, in the course of normal business, eligible equipment is upgraded, it is no longer covered under the new FBI definition.

The associations believe that the FBI’s requirements cannot be met for two reasons: At the time the CALEA was passed, standards had not yet been formulated to define what constituted compliant equipment, and the FBI was more than three years away from promulgating its capacity requirements that also defined what type of equipment was to be used. Currently, the FBI is empowered to fine companies $10 K per day/violation for equipment that does not meet its requirements.

Air Force to Speed TCAS Installation Process

According to the Associated Press via NewsEdge Corp., the Air Force is speeding up its program to install the Transponder Collision-avoidance System (TCAS) on many of its aircraft. The system, which currently is required on commercial aircraft, alerts pilots to nearby aircraft and indicates what protective action should be taken. A top Air Force general reportedly claimed that such a system could have prevented the midair collision of a German Tupolev 154 and a US Air Force C-141 that occurred off the coast of Africa in September 1997. Thirty-three people were killed in that accident, including nine Americans.

Defense Secretary William Cohen promoted the installation of the devices at a recent Pentagon meeting, saying the Air Force has been instructed to act as soon as is technically feasible. Defense Department spokesman Kenneth Bacon said the Air Force plans to increase spending from $600 M to $1.6 B to install the TCAS and a number of other safety devices in aircraft over the next decade. In response to reports that the Air Force had delayed installing the devices, Cohen noted that the law bars the service from making such updates to aircraft due to be retired within five years. Waivers to that law may be sought to update those aircraft.

Under the terms of the program, 2500 aircraft would feature the TCAS by 2008. Currently, only 300 of the Air Force’s aircraft are equipped with the system.

$80 B Planned for ATM over the Next Decade

A recent Allied Business Intelligence report, "Air Traffic Management Systems: Changes and Opportunities in Global ATC Equipment Markets," describes massive plans estimated at $80 B that will be carried out over the next 10 years to upgrade and expand air traffic control (ATC) systems into what is becoming an international air traffic management (ATM) system. The global market for radar systems is expected to expand from $2 B to $4 B per year in less than a decade and ATM software is expected to grow to $2 B per year within five years.

Early successes with Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation signals have made GPS the cornerstone of new ATM architectures. Thus, a significant market exists for ATC equipment for the move to a global system. The report projects the growth of key electronic ATC equipment segments in nine regions worldwide, and the reasons for recent shifts in growth rates for various geographic regions are analyzed. The burgeoning market for software includes routines that assimilate data streams, en route centers, TRACONs and airport sensors to supply information into zoomable area displays on ATC terminals, providing true airspace management capabilities. New software developments also are improving the ability of controllers to monitor airport traffic.

Early Federal Aviation Administration results from differential GPS trials led to the deployment of a wide area augmentation system (WAAS) array that will be operational in North America this year. Near-term developments will take the system to Category I precision and WAAS will quickly become a billion-dollar market. Operational tests of a prototype local area augmentation system also are scheduled for this fall. Once deployment begins, this more accurate alternative to instrument landing systems is expected to experience furious growth. In the meantime, growth is predicted to continue for precision runway monitors since they are the only other tools available for safe, simultaneous parallel runway use. For additional information, contact Allied Business Intelligence at (516) 624-3113 or e-mail: