The US National Security Agency is vetoing European industrial participation in the development of the next generation of the MIDS Link 16 communications terminal on the grounds that its planned integration with the US Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) threatens to compromise US cryptographic software protocols.
The planned MIDS-JTRS terminal is designed to merge Link 16 and secure multiband radio communications systems into a single wideband, software driven unit to support enhanced network-centric warfare capabilities. Development is led by the US Navy's PMW-780 airborne networking programme office, with the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet the lead platform, for introduction after 2008.
MIDS-JTRS will replace the MIDS low-volume terminal, developed in a collaborative effort by the USN, France, Italy, Spain and Germany.
The PMW-780 office says the issue is seen as a test case for US releasability policy. PMW-780 deputy programme manager Capt Steven DesJardins told last month's IQPC Tactical Datalink conference in Brussels that the "real problem...is we are going from hardware cryptographic systems...to software for which there are no established policies. They have called the MIDS-JTRS programme the policy ice-breaker."
PETER LA FRANCHI/BRUSSELS
Source: Flight International