Air Force pact builds global net

Every day the U.S. military moves tens of thousands of people and pieces of equipment, and keeping track of who and what is where is a problem.

To track people and cargo in near-real time, the Air Force last week awarded a $63.8 million contract to Northrop Grumman Corp. to build the Global Transportation Network 21 (GTN 21). The network is intended to improve an existing Web-based transportation tracking system that, according to the Air Force, checks the movement of supplies and people about 2 million times a day.

By providing the military with "nearreal-time visibility" of people and materiel on the move, the U.S. Transportation Command, which will operate the system, hopes to help commanders make operational decisions faster, according to officials. They plan to link GTN 21 to various transportation IT systems operated by the Defense Department, as well as those operated by civilian transportation companies that the military hires. The system is intended to monitor passengers and worldwide cargo.

Northrop Grumman's role in the project is to design the system's software, upgrade the existing system architecture and provide support for the upgrade, a company spokeswoman said.

Computer Sciences Corp., Harris Corp. and TRW Inc. also bid on the contract.

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