Next-generation aircraft carrier to run Microsoft

Next-generation aircraft carrier to run Microsoft

By Bill Murray

GCN Staff

JULY 27—The Navy's next-generation aircraft carrier will use Microsoft Windows-based operating systems to run its communications systems, aircraft and weapons launchers, and other ship electronics, after Lockheed Martin Corp. officials chose Microsoft earlier this month.

Newport News Shipbuilding is constructing CVN 77, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, for the Navy, in Newport News, Va. The shipbuilder chose Lockheed Martin to develop the carrier's integrated warfare systems in January, said Jerri Fuller Dickseski, a company spokeswoman. Following a seven-year shipbuilding effort that will begin in February 2001, CVN 77 is expected to enter the fleet in 2008, she said.

Lockheed Martin officials selected Microsoft as a subcontractor on July 13, said Rich Lockwood, director of advanced naval and command, control, communications, computers and intelligence programs for Lockheed Martin Naval Electronics and Surveillance Systems in Moorestown, N.J. Working with Windows 2000 and its successor operating systems 'should reduce lifecycle crewing and maintenance costs, as well as procurement costs,' he said. 'They will be running Windows or 'Son of Windows' by the time this ship deploys.'

Using a particular operating system to run a score of operations, rather than several legacy systems, will let the Navy train its sailors to use one OS, Lockwood said. In the Navy, 'there's been a consistent mindset to take costs out from the beginning,' when designing ships.

Lockheed Martin officials chose Microsoft in part because of the company's 'experience in computers, networks and systems,' Lockwood said. 'We felt that Microsoft had a lot of insight' that could help Lockheed Martin stay current with commercial technology, he said.

'This is a new area for us,' said Keith Hodson, a Microsoft Federal spokesman. 'Windows-based products have not traditionally been associated with DOD-specific mission-critical applications.'

Lockheed Martin will use Microsoft operating systems for operator workstations in flight crew ready rooms, as well as systems including radar, aircraft and weapons launchers, sensors, ship network connectivity and aircraft control. The Navy also will use Microsoft software to run more mundane programs such as sailor fitness reports, Lockwood said.

Lockheed Martin's Newport News subcontract is worth about $500 million over seven years, Lockwood said, but he said he didn't yet have an estimate for the Microsoft subcontract.

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