Lockheed Martin lands $900M Air Force pact

Lockheed Martin Federal Systems last week won a contract worth up to $900 million to modernize the Air Force's major information systems. The contract is a key component in the Pentagon's vision of seamless interoperability across Defense Department support systems.

Under the Global Combat Support System - Air Force (GCSS-AF) Lockheed Martin will take applications written on mainframes 20 to 30 years ago and re-engineer them for more cost-effective and flexible platforms to be deployed at 200 bases worldwide.

GCSS-AF also will establish the Air Force as a player in the Defense Information Infrastructure Common Operating Environment (DII COE) - a suite of commercial off-the-shelf software that DOD has identified as a standard platform for command and control applications. DII COE is designed to allow interoperability of data and communications across the services.

COE "creates a disciplined environment so applications can peacefully coexist - not only in theAir Force but throughout the entire Department of Defense " said Ken Heitkamp technical director for the Electronic Systems Center's Standard Systems Group at Maxwell Air Force Base-Gunter Annex Ala. "From my perspective that's not all just buzzwords that's real capability."

GCSS-AF - originally called Base-Level Systems Modernization - is a 15-year indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity contract with an initial value of $304 million. Unsuccessful bidders on the program include Computer Sciences Corp. PRC Inc. TRW Systems Integration Group Science Applications International Corp. and Robbins-Gioia Inc.

Lockheed Martin also is the contractor on the Army's Sustaining Base Information Services program a similar modernization effort.

Like SBIS GCSS-AF primarily involves software engineering with a strong focus on integrating commercial and government off-the-shelf technology the Air Force said. The program's evaluation criteria put a heavy emphasis on the bidders' software engineering expertise Heitkamp said.

"The idea is you understand the customer's problems well enough so you can first look at a COTS solution and not have to develop [from scratch] " said David Wales the GCSS-AF program manager at Lockheed Martin Owego N.Y. The contractor plans to work with the customer at Maxwell to define requirements and then develop the software in its Owego facility.

The Air Force plans to begin the effort by re-engineering and rehosting its supply system a process that is expected to take 24 to 30 months Heitkamp said. "If we do that well then we've put in place the infrastructure a large-scale application that is very important to the Air Force." During the first 12 months Lockheed Martin also will port a number of smaller applications to COE that do not require much re-engineering and deliver them to the bases. The idea is to "streamline the process of getting that COE out " Heitkamp said.

Other Air Force applications include systems for operation resources management cargo movement manpower data and transportation.

The concept of a COE is nothing new to the Air Force which first standardized on a core set of mainframe-based applications across its components in 1973. However even though those applications still serve the Air Force well the service needs the operational agility that comes with more-modern technology.

"We within the Air Force are deploying people at a more rapid pace than we ever have before " Heitkamp said. "They are using products in a peacetime environment and they need to be able to take that into [field] operations."

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