TAUNTON, Mass. — Under pressure from soldiers to get the system into the field quickly, Army leaders accelerated the Warfighter Information Network–Tactical (WIN-T) by awarding a contract to former competitors General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin, which will now cooperate to create the high-speed battlefield network that will be the communications foundation of the Army Future Combat System (FCS).
WIN-T — the Army's tactical extension of the Global Information Grid — designed to bring mobile bandwidth and networking capabilities to the battlefield as part of FCS. As such, WIN-T represents a crucial step toward what U.S. Department of Defense leaders call "force transformation."
The WIN-T program is worth $7 billion through 2018, and a possible $10 billion over its lifetime. The new contract cuts nearly a year off the anticipated development time. In August 2002 the Army awarded competing contracts to General Dynamics C4 Systems in Taunton, Mass., and Lockheed Martin Mission Systems in Gaithersburg, Md.
The two companies will conduct pre-system development and demonstration (SDD) for WIN-T by developing capabilities in parallel. The Army will down-select to one contractor in time for production in October 2005.
"This combined effort will allow us to settle the WIN-T network architecture within the next four months," says Col. Angel Colon, WIN-T project manager. He is part of the Fort Monmouth, N.J.–based Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications–Tactical.
"A single-baseline approach sets the conditions to incrementally provide capabilities to the Current Force," Colon says. "Soldiers will benefit from this combined effort because it opens the door for the latest in information technology to be fielded where real-time, quality information is most highly valued — with our deployed and combat-ready units."
Eventually, FCS soldiers will use WIN-T as networking glue between vehicles, commanders, and foot soldiers. The system will rely on a combination of land-based wired and wireless nodes, manned and unmanned aircraft, and satellite links. It will link existing communication systems with future platforms like the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS).
General Dynamics will serve as prime contractor, while Lockheed Martin is a major subcontractor responsible for approximately 50 percent of the effort.
"WIN-T will deliver critical technologies to current and future forces, providing a networked environment that can support the Army's on-the-move voice, video, and data communications needs," says Mark Fried, president of General Dynamics C4 Systems.
"Better access to information supports better decision-making, and the WIN-T network will help deliver that information when and where the Army needs it," Fried says.
The combined teams bring a "best of breed" approach to the program and enable the Army to synchronize WIN-T with current and future transformation programs, say planners at Lockheed Martin.
"We're extremely pleased to be supporting the Army on this important program to deliver on-the-move communications capabilities to the warfighter," says Dave Kelley, Lockheed Martin's WIN-T program executive.
"Together, the General Dynamics-Lockheed Martin team applies the very best of military and commercial communications expertise to the WIN-T system. The combined team will deliver the best available technology directly to the warfighter quickly and cost-effectively, helping to ensure that the WIN-T solution meets the Army's needs for decades to come."
It will still take the Army several years to field the final system.
"We'll get capabilities to the warfighter much sooner. It might not be the full-up WIN-T system right away, but we'll definitely put pieces of the system in their hands in just a few months instead of a year or more," says Matt Kramer, a Lockheed Martin spokesman. "That's important not only for the Army but for FCS and JTRS, so they can plan around a single architecture."
Under their previous contracts, both companies had announced teams of partners for WIN-T, but neither one would say whether they would maintain those teams for the new partnership.
"It's too early to speculate about the impact of the revised acquisition strategy on teammates," says Rob Doolittle, a General Dynamics spokesman.
General Dynamics partners for the original WIN-T contract were known as "Team MATRIX," including: BAE Systems in Wayne, N.J.; DynCorp in Chantilly, Va.; General Dynamics Communication Systems in Taunton, Mass.; General Dynamics Decision Systems in Scottsdale, Ariz.; Laguna Industries in Laguna, N.M.; Log.Sec Corp., Warrenton, Va.; Northrop Grumman Information Technology–Defense Mission Systems, Herndon, Va.; OPNET Technologies, Bethesda, Md.; Solers, Arlington, Va.; Veridian, Fairfax, Va.; and Verizon's BBN Technologies, Cambridge, Mass.
Lockheed Martin also refused to commit to future teammates.
"We've been in a competitive mode for two years, so now we have to sit down with the Army and General Dynamics," Kramer says. "It's going to take about four months to do architecture review and consolidation, then we'll take a look at the whole landscape, and see who brings the best value to the Army. Once we get a consolidated architecture and program in place, we'll put the suppliers and teammates in place with a best-of-breed approach."
Lockheed Martin's original partners were: ACS in Dallas; CACI, Arlington, Va.; Cisco Systems, San Jose, Calif.; Harris Corp., Melbourne, Fla.; Innolog, McLean, Va.; Integrated Solutions Inc.; Qualcomm, San Diego, Calif.; SRI International, Menlo park, Calif.; and Sytex, Doylestown, Pa.