BMC2 award coming soon

Industry officials expect the Air Force soon will issue a request for proposals for the Battle Management Command and Control (BMC2) system.

The service will award the $400 million contract in August to Boeing Co., Lockheed Martin Corp. or Northrop Grumman Corp., according to defense industry officials. BMC2 is supposed to automate the data processing of enemy targets detected by sensors and radar that can penetrate clouds and trees. The computer system will reside on a new airliner called the E-10A Multi-Sensor Command and Control Aircraft (MC2A).

Air Force officials planned to issue the BMC2 proposal in January and the contract award this month. But the service delayed starting the procurement by four months, said an industry official familiar with the situation.

In September 2003, the Air Force awarded $4 million study contracts to Boeing, Lockheed and Northrop to design BMC2. The system will combine computer networks on six existing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance-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.

Lockheed's BMC2 system recently demonstrated via computer simulation that it could track and target speeding cruise missiles and elusive ground targets, an April 21 company statement reads.

In August, Air Force officials issued a $126 million deal to Boeing to build the first of five 767s to serve as experimental aircraft for the broader MC2A initiative, an 18-year, $58 billion effort to field a system that identifies enemy targets and then coordinates jet fighters and bombers so they can attack more quickly than they do today. The service wants to field four E-10A MC2As by 2012, and that could grow to a fleet of 60 by 2020.

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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