Army wants to accelerate WIN-T and bring on a single contractor

The Army has asked the Defense Department to let it speed up contracting for its massive battlefield network project.

The service wants to pick up the pace on the $10 billion Warfighter Information Network-Tactical to bolster combat capabilities, especially in Iraq.

Last September, the Army awarded contracts worth $68 million to General Dynamics Corp. and $63 million to Lockheed Martin Corp. to model and simulate WIN-T systems.

Army CIO Lt. Gen. Steven W. Boutelle said he is pushing to alter the WIN-T acquisition strategy so that one of the contractors can sign a deal for the next phase sooner. The original schedule called for a contract award in late 2005.

'We feel it's time to go to a single contractor and bring it in quicker,' Boutelle said recently at Army IT Day in McLean, Va., sponsored by the Northern Virginia chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association. 'Let's move on faster. Otherwise, we'll get an irrelevant architecture.'

The Army must speed up the schedule, he said, because troops in Iraq need the network's capabilities as soon as possible, not a few years down the line.

Through WIN-T, the Army plans to build a high-speed, high-capacity infrastructure for wired and wireless voice, data, video and imagery communications for soldiers on the battlefield. WIN-T will be the backbone of the Army's Future Combat Systems initiative to connect weapons and transport systems via a single network.

Voice over IPZ

Army brass hope to have capabilities such as voice over IP when the 3rd Infantry Division returns to Iraq later this year.

WIN-T will replace the Tri-service Tactical Communications system, based on military technology from the 1970s that signal battalions still use. The network will be part of the users' platforms and not dependent on the Signal Corps for communications links.

WIN-T will require interfaces with other Defense combat systems as well as the FCS, Joint Tactical Radio System and, ultimately, equipment for Objective Force Warrior, the Army's high-tech vision for 21st-century combat forces.

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