Army splits WIN-T work

General Dynamics Corp. officials will oversee the development and installation of the Army's Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) system with help from Lockheed Martin Corp., according to the service's top information technology official.

Army officials recently sent contract letters to the two companies, notifying executives of the decision. The service still must send a letter to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, said Lt. Gen. Steve Boutelle, the Army's chief information officer, speaking at a recent meeting of the Industry Advisory Council.

In a change of acquisition strategy, General Dynamics and Lockheed will work together to build WIN-T, which is designed to provide Army personnel and warfighters with more mobile communications, using several platforms and sensors. Army officials originally planned to choose only one company to develop and install the $10 billion battlefield communications system.

Boutelle said General Dynamics will lead the program and Lockheed will serve as the directed subcontractor. He hinted last month that the two companies would work together, with one leading the initiative.

General Dynamics and Lockheed officials declined to comment until they

finalize the contract paperwork. Tim Rider, spokesman for the Program Executive Office-Command, Control and Communication Systems Tactical, the Army office overseeing the procurement, said he could not provide further comment.

Last month, an official at one of the companies said that General Dynamics would serve as the prime contractor but added that both companies may end up getting the same amount of money.

General Dynamics built the Army's current battlefield communications system, the Mobile Subscriber Equipment-Tri-Service Tactical Terminal. But that 1980s-era system, designed to fight Soviet Union forces in the mountainous environment of Europe, could not keep pace with the widespread operations in Iraq last year. As a result, U.S. and coalition forces relied on secure, commercial satellite communications purchased at the last minute at high prices.

Boutelle said the Army sped the procurement and development of WIN-T because soldiers need mobile voice, video and data communications that let them operate in rugged environments. He said soldiers need some of those technologies now, not four years from now.

For example, Army officials will start installing technologies next month that are planned for use with WIN-T by the 3rd Infantry Division. The force from Fort Stewart, Ga., will start training at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., on the new systems that include voice over IP and small satellite terminals that provide large amounts of bandwidth. The technologies will also allow logisticians to track parts more quickly and easily, Boutelle said.

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