Intercepts

BACK TO THE FUTURE. TRW Inc., which has the mega-contract for the Army's Force XXI battlefield digitization contract, has switched hardware companies to supply computers - with Applique command and control software - that are destined for installation in tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles and practically everything else that moves on the battlefield.

Harvey Carter, site manager for TRW at beautiful Fort Hood, Texas, told the Interceptor last week that the company has tapped Miltope Corp., developer of the Army's original Common Hardware/Software battlefield computers, as the new Applique supplier to replace gadgets and gizmos from Science Applications International Corp. The new battlefield computers were designed by Long Island, N.Y.-based Phoenix Group Inc., headed by Dick Pandolfi, who once ran Miltope. This definitely marks a turnaround for Miltope and Pandolfi, who lost out in the bidding war for the Army's Lightweight Computer Unit-II contract. Carter emphasized that this current production run will cover only limited fielding for the next big Force XXI test next year, with no final decision made yet on the design or manufacturer for the 60,000 systems needed to equip the entire Army.

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SPACE DEFENSE? The U.S. Space Command can claim victory in one of the toughest internecine battles in the Pentagon: wresting control of the very hot and topical computer network defense from the other commands vying for the task. Air Force Maj. Gen. John "Soup" Campbell, head of the interim Joint Task Force for Computer Network Defense, said Spacecom will soon assume overall responsibility for network defense, definitely a growth industry.

All of us here at Intercept Central - not privy to how decisions are made in the E-ring - are more than a bit curious about how an outfit that shoots large objects into space (when they don't blow up), ended up with the computer defense task. Anyone who has some insight into this decision should feel free to send me e-mail (antenna@fcw.com). Personally, I think Spacecom whined louder and longer than any of the other joint commands.

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VINSON VS. AUSSIES UPDATE. The Navy has acknowledged that systems on board its aircraft carriers can cause automatic garage door openers to go berserk, as occurred on a recent visit by the USS Carl Vinson to Hobart, Australia. But according to Capt. Kevin Wensing, chief image therapist for CINCPACFLT, "we had the freq first.... Garage door manufacturers know this, but since very few brands are ever affected, they are not going to change."

I do wish the Navy could figure out a way to attack car alarms that go off for hours in the middle of the night, with no response from the owners.

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NORFOLK-BOUND. Everyone, it seems, has decided to hold a conference in Norfolk, Va., this month, and I'll be there with my mobile Intercept unit, frequently filing to FCW's World Wide Web site (www.fcw.com). Here's the lineup: Army Small Computer Program conference, May 4-6; Navy Connecting Technology Conference, May 11-13; and the Defense Department Procurement Conference, May 25-28.

I'm part of the entertainment in the last one, appearing on a press panel, which could be a bit of fun for anyone looking for the chance to zing me.

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