Defense authorization bill goes to president

The Senate last night passed a fiscal 2004 Defense authorization bill that sets instructions for several major military technology projects.

Although President Bush in September signed a Defense Department appropriations bill for 2004, the authorization bill includes lawmakers' recommendations for DOD funding needs this fiscal year.

The bill, which passed 95-3, authorized $20.6 billion for the Air Force for R&D and testing and evaluation. It also authorized $9.5 billion in R&D funds for the Army, $14.8 billion for the Navy and $18.4 billion for other Defense Department projects.

Of all the money for R&D and T&E, the bill called for $11 billion to go to the Defense Science and Technology program, which would cover basic and applied systems research and advanced technology development.

For some IT efforts, the bill makes specific demands on DOD:

  • Joint Tactical Radio System: DOD must establish a plan for the development of JTRS under a single program office.

  • Future Combat Systems: Congress limited spending to $170 million for developing networked weapons and vehicles until lawmakers receive an independent review of FCS and a milestone review by the Defense Acquisition Board.

  • Network-centric communications: DOD must develop a high-speed, high-bandwidth comm system for military operations. The department must identify areas for advanced wireless communications, develop a plan for improved spectrum use and implement robust security and encryption.

  • Blue Force Tracking: DOD and the Joint Forces Command must report on joint experiments to evaluate technologies to identify friendly and enemy troops on the battlefield.

  • The bill also approved the name change of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency to the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency.

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