Boeing lands Air Force deal

Boeing Co. will get $126 million to build the first of five 767s that will serve as experimental platforms for the U.S. Air Force's E-10A Multi-Sensor Command and Control Aircraft (MC2A) program.

Under the contract award announced Aug. 18, Boeing Air Force Systems, a unit of the company's Integrated Defense Systems division, will build the 767 at its Everett, Wash., plant for delivery in December 2005, a Boeing statement said.

Boeing's deal marks the third contract in the Air Force's 18-year, $58 billion effort to field a system that identifies enemy targets and coordinates U.S. fighters and bombers so they can attack more quickly than they do today.

The new E-10A MC2A aircraft will carry next-generation radar and command and control systems. The Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program radar, in development by Northrop Grumman Corp. since 2000 under a $303 million contract, tracks ground and air vehicles, and the Battle Management Command and Control (BMC2) system, a $400 million program, automates sensor data processing.

Air Force officials awarded the first E-10 MC2A contract in May to a team led by Northrop Grumman. The $215 million Weapon System Integration program calls for Northrop, Boeing and Raytheon Co. to install the new radar and command and control systems on the 767s.

Northrop Grumman, Boeing and Lockheed Martin Corp. are competing for the BMC2 program, for which the Air Force will issue concept study work next month and then award the final contract in April, said Northrop Grumman spokesman Jim Stratford.

The Air Force wants to field four E-10 MC2As by 2012, which could grow to a fleet of 60 by 2020. The new command and control system would replace six intelligence, surveillance and intelligence-gathering service aircraft, including the Airborne Warning and Control System and the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, according to the Web site of GlobalSecurity.Org, a Washington defense consulting firm.

The E-10A MC2A program is a key part of the Air Force's larger Command and Control Constellation concept that consists of land, air and space sensors that use common computer protocols and communications standards to share information.

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