Air Force awards BMC2 study contracts

The Air Force awarded study contracts worth $4 million each to Boeing Co., Lockheed Martin Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp. to design the command and control system for the service's near $60 billion E-10A Multi-Sensor Command and Control Aircraft (MC2A) program. The Battle Management Command and Control System (BMC2) automates the data processing of enemy targets detected by ground moving target indicators and radar that can penetrate clouds and tree cover. The Air Force will award a $400 million contract in April for the best BMC2 design.

Under the study contract, Boeing, Lockheed and Northrop Grumman will develop proposals and integrate requirements and architectures with other systems in the MC2A aircraft, Col. Joseph Smyth, MC2A Program Office director, said yesterday in a statement.

"Each proposed BMC2 suite needs to fit within the confines of the 767 aircraft that has limited size, weight, power, cooling, center of gravity — all of those things that make for a very tightly connected weapon system," Smyth said.

The Air Force on Aug. 18 awarded Boeing a $126 million contract to build the first of five 767s that will serve as MC2A experimental platforms. The company's Integrated Defense Systems division will build the 767 at its Everett, Wash., plant for delivery in December 2005.

The study deals announced this week mark the fourth set of contracts awarded 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 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 aircrafts, including the Airborne Warning and Control System and the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, according to the Web site of GlobalSecurity.org, an Alexandria, Va.-based 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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