Arriving on a fast track

Army officials last week boasted about the speed with which its new ground-based surveillance system was delivered.

"Three years from initial planning, we're rolling out the first production vehicle," said Edward Bair, the Army's program executive officer for Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors, whose office developed and managed the Prophet system. "That's virtually unheard of with the current acquisition process."

The key to success was taking an integrated product team approach, said Ronald Gorda, senior vice president of Titan Corp., the Prophet contractor. Under that approach, users and contractors worked closely with program managers during the development process.

Gorda said such teams sometimes do nothing more than engage in glorified negotiations, but in this case, Titan officials and Army users were involved, and the company solicited feedback at strategic times to make changes based on the service's needs. "The users were literally crawling over the equipment," Gorda said.

The first Prophet will be fielded to the Interim Brigade Combat Team at Fort Lewis, Wash., in September, Bair said.

The initial Prophet contract awarded one year ago was valued at about $7.9 million for six systems, and the Army has just exercised its first option for 31 more units, Gorda said. If all the options are picked up, the contract will be worth about $58 million for 83 systems.

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