Army award for WIN-T is nigh

The Army is expected within the next few days to name General Dynamics Corp. as the prime contractor for the multibillion-dollar Warfighter Information Network-Tactical program.

The deal, described as a realigned contract, calls for Lockheed Martin Corp. to serve as principal subcontractor, according to Lt. Gen. Steven W. Boutelle, Army CIO.

'Award is probably the wrong answer. The contracts were aligned, with General Dynamics as the prime contractor, and Lockheed Martin Corp. as a subcontractor,' Boutelle said.

Since last September, General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin have been working on models and simulations of prototype WIN-T systems. They have been competing under existing contracts valued at $68 million to General Dynamics and $63 million to Lockheed Martin to win the much larger deal for design and development of the network.

Tim Ryder, a spokesman for the Army's Communications and Electronics Command in New Jersey, said a single award has not been made. Ryder said both teams are still competing 'until such time as a new, realigned contract is in place.'

'There's been no change to the contract status,' Rob Doolittle of General Dynamics said. 'Officially, we're still competing.'

Soon, very soon

But according to several sources, the paperwork is set to be signed any day now, naming General Dynamics as the prime. The contracting team will then build the WIN-T system during the design and development phase.

The Army, which expected to award the development deal in late 2005, asked the Defense Department to expedite the process to bolster combat capabilities, especially in Iraq.

WIN-T, which will replace the 1970s-era Tri-service Tactical Communications system still used by signal battalions, will be the backbone of the Army's Future Combat Systems. FCS will connect weapons and transport systems via a single network.. The Army's plans for WIN-T call for a high-speed, high-capacity infrastructure for wired and wireless voice, data, video and imagery communications.

The battlefield communications system is to be integrated as part of users' platforms, and not dependent on the Signal Corps for communications links.

In the short term, Army leaders hope to have capabilities such as voice over IP when the 3rd Infantry Division returns to Iraq later this year.

WIN-T also is to be connected with other Defense combat systems in addition to FCS, the Joint Tactical Radio System and, in the long term, equipment for the Objective Force Warrior initiative.

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