Raytheon snares Tri-band satellite deal from GTE

Raytheon Electronics Systems captured the Army's Tri-band Tactical Terminal contract worth a total of $157 million in a fierce four-way competition that included GTE Corp. which built prototype Humvee-mounted terminals under a $10 million contract.

The Army could order up to 275 of the Raytheon Tri-band terminals which provide easy access to military-owned X- band satellites as well as commercial C- band and Ku-band birds. The Tri-band terminals will replace a family of large truck-mounted X-band-only terminals now used by Army Signal Corps units. The Army plans to use the Tri-band terminals as key components of its evolutionary battlefield Warfighter Information Network system of the future.

The terminals can be easily transported on military aircraft and will allow deployed forces such as Army troops in Bosnia quick access to military and commercial satellites. In Bosnia U.S. forces could not easily access the broad-band pipes provided by commercial satellites until the Defense Information Systems Agency contracted for commercial terminals that were installed over a period of months.

Tactical communicators are eager to get their hands on the Tri-band gear. Col. Dennis Via commander of the 82nd Signal Brigade Fort Bragg N.C. which supports the 82nd Airborne Division - the Army's primary contingency reaction force - said the new terminals "will help meet the unique requirements of this division. They can be airlifted easier and give us access to the bigger pipes we need to support the requirements of the division."

Ed Velez project leader for the Army Communications-Electronics Command which managed the Tri-band program said the new terminals can be carried on a C-130 aircraft the smallest four-engine airlifter in the Air Force and can be set up and operating "within 30 minutes after roll-off."

The Marine Corps Navy SEAL units the U.S. Special Operations Command and the Joint Communications Staff Element - which provides communications for the central command - will all purchase terminals off the Tri-band contract Velez said.

Cecom expects Raytheon will deliver four prototype terminals for evaluation and testing by February 1998 with testing to be performed at Fort Bragg Velez said.

Once Raytheon starts delivering Tri-band production units the Army expects them to replace the large X-band-only terminals now used for Echelon Above Corps communications.

Warren Suss a Pennsylvania-based communications analyst called the Tri-band award "a major victory for Raytheon and a major setback for GTE which has a strong heritage as a supplier of Army tactical communications equipment."

GTE declined to comment. Harris Corp. and Lockheed Martin Corp. the other two bidders did not return calls asking for comment.

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