Data links and JTRS keep U.S. airborne communications market flying
A study released by Forecast International, Newtown, Conn., said that the U.S. airborne communications market will be worth some $2.63 billion over the next decade.
Data links and the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) will be driving spending in the U.S. airborne communications market from 2002 to 2011, the study said.
Data links allow aircraft to transmit information in real- or near real-time. Soon after the United States armed forces entered Afghanistan in October 2001, the U.S. Air Force said it was accelerating deployment of data links, such as the Multifunctional Information Distribution System (MIDS).
Although 228 F-15E aircraft will carry the MIDS, more than 400 F-15C models will receive MIDS by the end of the second quarter of 2003, said Mark Cowell, author of the Forecast International analysis.
Data links will be key components of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as well. The UAV proved its worth during the war in Afghanistan by supplying vital reconnaissance and targeting information to attack aircraft and command centers.
UAV demand has increased significantly since the U.S. defeated the Taliban in Afghanistan. Forecast International expects buyers to purchase some 4,700 unmanned aerial vehicles over the next ten years.
Spending on JTRS will account for 23 percent of total spending in the U.S. airborne communications market, the report said. The JTRS program objective is to provide the U.S. military with a standardized, open-architecture, software programmable radio.
Cowell said that the Rockwell Collins ARC-210 would fulfill the airborne component of the JTRS program.
“Its multimode properties and ability to be modified to meet future needs gives it many of the qualities required by the JTRS program,” said Cowell. “If not selected for the JTRS program, many of its features will most likely be used for the basis of the JTRS airborne radio.”
Rockwell Collins is a member of the Boeing JTRS team that won the JTRS contract in June. During the past few years, the ARC-210 radio has gained popularity with the U.S. armed forces and its allies. Currently, the U.S. military is installing the ARC-210 on several aircraft including the B-52 and the F/A18E/F.
The Forecast International report projects more than 80 percent of spending in the U.S. airborne communications market over the next decade will be on the MIDS and the JTRS. With the current proliferation of data links and the fielding of the JTRS by mid-term of the forecast period, the report said that the U.S. airborne communications market would remain strong in the coming decade.