Defense spending on C4I to hit $40B

Defense Department spending on command control communications computers and intelligence (C4I) will hit $40 billion in fiscal 1998 a $3 billion jump from fiscal 1997 a top DOD official said last month.

Fiscal 1998 spending for C4I will remain "robust" to support battlefield "information dominance " said James Soos deputy assistant secretary of Defense for C4.

Soos said intelligence programs will consume more than half - $23 billion - of the total 1998 C4I budget which includes spending on satellites. The budget for C4 programs and systems is pegged at $17.3 billion.Soos speaking at TeleStrategies Inc.'s annual Federal Telecommunications Conference in McLean Va. added that the information technology budget will run about $9.1 billion in 1998 or roughly on par with IT spending in recent years.

Ongoing and future C4I programs need continued heavy spending to field everything on the agency's wish list. DOD plans to spend more than $2 billion a year over the next 20 years on a military-owned and operated Global Broadcast System capable of delivering high-speed data imagery and video to terminals worldwide said Air Force Maj. Gen. Robert Dickman DOD's space architect. Peak spending on GBS could hit $3.5 billion a year elevating the cost of GBS to close to $50 billion.

Dickman predicted Defense agencies and the three services eventually would field 29 000 terminals to tap into the GBS satellites accounting for rough-ly half of the total program cost. Though commercial satellite operators and some systems integrators have pushed for a commercially based GBS Dickman stated flatly that the "commercial market will not support mobile netted protected or survivable communications services."

Now that the Defense Information Systems Agency has awarded all the key contracts for its worldwide telecommunications system called the Defense Information Systems Network-Continental United States the agency stands ready to roll out another series of procurements - thought to be worth as much as $4 billion - to fill out its communications strategy.

Air Force Col. John O'Meally DISA's DISN project manager said the agency plans to release this year a request for proposals for the DISN Telecommunications Services-Pacific (DTS-P) project as well as an RFP for DTS-Europe and DISN Switched Services-Europe. Awards for all the contracts are expected in 1998.

Although some telecommunications industry executives value the European contracts from $1 billion to $2 billion O'Meally said DISA has found a way to do it for less. DOD already owns and operates a microwave-based Digital European Backbone Network and O'Meally said the government could achieve 155 megabit/sec connectivity over that network "which is 93 percent of our requirements...by just switching out the radios.

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