Just a few years ago, the U.S. Army was sending compact discs with software updates through the mail, a process that could take weeks or even months in some cases, but its software sustainment efforts have improved dramatically and continues to do so, according to Jennifer Swanson, director, Software Engineering Center (SEC), Army Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM).
The U.S. Army’s Communications and Electronics Command, or CECOM, located at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, is engaging in a robust asset management program to make sure command, control, communications, computing, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C5ISR) technologies are ready for troops around the world, said Maj. Gen. Mitchell Kilgo, USA, CECOM commander.
The U.S. Army upped the tempo when Gen. Mark Milley, USA, fired off his first message to the force in August 2015 as the newly sworn-in Army Chief of Staff: “Readiness for ground combat is—and will remain—the U.S. Army’s No. 1 priority.” Today, Gen. Milley is the chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Army has rebuilt its tactical readiness through a transformational process that it is now expanding to focus on strategic readiness.
Next week, the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division will begin testing a software repository that allows the downloading of up-to-date software systems and patches. The effort is one of thee major initiatives to resolve the service’s challenges in updating and securing systems to enhance operational readiness.
Maj. Gen. Mitchell Kilgo, USA, commanding general, Army Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM), reported the effort during the final day of the virtual Army’s 2020 Signal Conference, which is hosted by AFCEA.
To ensure greater supply availability of certain technologies, the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command is pursuing a concept not widely used in the military, reports Maj. Gen. Randy Taylor, USA, commander of the organization and senior commander of Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. The command has started a pilot program that will allow the service to option intellectual property rights in specific hardware and software contracts, Gen. Taylor says.
The Army’s road to readiness runs through Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) and the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, in the opinion of Maj. Gen. Randy Taylor, CECOM’s commanding general. The advantages of the command—aside from the beautiful 144 miles of shoreline on the Chesapeake Bay in Aberdeen, Maryland, and the 400 American bald eagles that also live there— is that it may be the one place in the military where research and development in science and technology; technology development; testing; acquisition; fielding; and sustainment are all at one installation.
Maj. Gen. Randy S. Taylor, USA, has been assigned as commanding general, U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command and Aberdeen Proving Ground, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.
Not only does the Army want new capabilities to deal with dynamic changes in the warfighting realm, it also faces the challenge of obsolescence in many of its existing communications-electronics systems. Technologies designed decades ago are still carrying the freight for information that increasingly is sent in a format far different from the equipment that must deliver it to the warfighter and decision maker.
General Dynamics C4 Systems, Scottsdale, Arizona, was awarded a $78 million cost-plus-award-fee indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for software development and software maintenance efforts for the Command Post of the Future System. The U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, is the contracting activity.
General Dynamics C4 Systems Incorporated was awarded a $3.7 billion firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee, level-of-effort, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract. The award will provide for the procurement of the Command Hardware Systems-4. The U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, Contracting Center, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, is the contracting activity.
QinetiQ North America, McLean, Virginia, recently announced that the U.S. Army has awarded the company a time and materials continuation task order valued at $22 million if all options are exercised, to support the Unit Level Logistics System - Aviation, Enhanced [ULLS-A(E)]. The Software Engineering Center, Fort Lee, Virginia, awarded the task order through GSA Region 4 off the Alliant Government-Wide Acquisition Contract. ULLS-A(E) is an automated aviation logbook and maintenance and logistics management system, which allows Army aviation units to perform and track maintenance and supply operations in accordance with The Army Maintenance Management Systems-Aviation.
Syracuse Research Corporation, North Syracuse, New York, was awarded a more than $6 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the improvement services in support of the lightweight counter-mortar radar units. The U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, Contracting Center, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, is the contracting activity.
SRC Incorporated, North Syracuse, New York, was awarded about $9 million for an omni-directional weapon location radar prototype that is a 360-degree counter-fire prototype that offers full-hemispherical coverage. The U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, is the contracting activity.
ITT Communications Systems, Fort Wayne, Indiana, was recently a $569 contract modification to deliver Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System ancillary equipment, spare parts, and repair and engineering services. The U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, is the contracting activity.
Niitek Incorporated, Dulles, Virginia, has been awarded a more than $11 million contract for support services for the Husky Mounted Detection System, including system installation, training, and sustainment services to maintain fielded systems. U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, Contracting Center, Fort Belvoir, Virginia, is the contracting activity.
Raytheon Network Centric Systems, Dallas, Texas, was awarded recently awarded a $25 million contract to provide for the foreign military sale of driver's vision enhancer and commander vision enhancer for the Saudi Arabian national guard. The U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, Contracting Center, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, is the contracting activity.
Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Sensors, Akron, Ohio, was recently awarded an $85 million contract for the procurement of 42 MX-20 lite sensor B-kits; 21 MX-20 lite installation A-kits; five upgraded ground control stations and associated gondolas, to include required software upgrades; and 10 STARLite installation A-kits in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, is the contracting activity.
Modus Operandi, Melbourne, Florida has been awarded a contract by the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command to develop a system that identifies critical words and phrases for intelligence analysis, and maintains lists of these key words. The Vocabulary - Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (V-ISR) project, will address the challenges associated with processing overwhelming amounts of intelligence data. The V-ISR project will use advanced, machine-learning techniques to recognize new terms and automatically categorize them within lists that will be constantly updated.
Harris Corporation has been awarded a potential $475 million order to supply military and land mobile radio systems to international partners of the U.S. State Department and U.S. Department of Defense. The five-year contract was awarded by the U.S. Army's Communications Electronics Command and covers the Harris RF Falcon II and Falcon III radio portfolio Multiband Networking, and RF-7800S Secure Personal radios, as well as public safety and professional communications land mobile radios.
DRS C3 7 Aviation Company, Horsham, Pennsylvania, was awarded a more than $19 million contract for ground surveillance hardware and services for the government of Egypt. The U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, Contracting Center, Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, is the contracting activity.
NIITEK Incorporated, Dulles, Virginia, recently received a $38 million contract to provide 64 Husky mounted detection systems to be deployed to Afghanistan. The U.S. Army Communications and Electronics Command, Contracting Center, Fort Belvoir, Virginia, is the contracting activity.
Booz Allen Hamilton, Red Bank, New Jersey, was recently awarded a $31 million contract for 350 Wolfhound systems, as well as managing, producing, testing, validating, delivery, and supporting the services and products associated with the Wolfhound systems. The U.S. Army's Communications Electronics Command Acquisition Center, Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, is the contracting activity.
The Boeing Company, Huntsville, Alabama, was recently awarded an $88 million contract for Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System aircraft, which encompasses a 24-month engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) base effort for four units with an option for an additional two EMD units and more options for a total of six low rate initial production units and interim contractor logistics support. U.S. Army Communications Electronics Command Contracting Center, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, is the contracting activity.
General Dynamics C4 Systems Incorporated, Taunton, Masschusetts, was recently awarded a $187 million contract modification to raise the contract ceiling to $2.68 billion. Items to be procured under this contract are Common Hardware Systems-3. U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command Contracting Center, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, is the contracting activity.
Harris Corp., Rochester, New York, was awarded a $78.5 million contract for Foreign Military Sales of radio base stations, vehicle mounts, and man packs to the government of the Philippines. The U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command Acquisition Center, Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, is the contracting activity.
L-3 Communications Westwood Corp., Tulsa, Oklahoma, was recently awarded a $175 million contract modification by the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command to provide 30 and 60 kilowatt tactical quiet generator sets to provide the necessary and critical power for command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment and combat support systems. The modification was issued to increase the contract ceiling amount to $376 million with an estimated completion date of March 1, 2011.
The U.S. Army’s current tactical network delivers a wide range of capabilities for warfighters, including unprecedented communications on the move. But the complexity can overwhelm commanders who have countless critical tasks to complete and soldiers’ lives in their hands. Future tactical networks will automate many processes and may be smart enough to advise commanders, similar to JARVIS, Iron Man’s computerized assistant.
The complexities of the U.S. Army’s networks and spectrum allocation processes interfere with the need to reassign units to different tasks, creating major delays and presenting serious challenges. To solve the issue, researchers intend to deliver a wide range of technologies, including automated spectrum planning and allocation tools and smarter radios, that will use spectrum more efficiently, network more effectively and provide commanders the flexibility to reorganize as needed.
U.S. Army officials are standardizing the information technology architecture on many current and future ground combat vehicles. The effort is designed to reduce the size, weight and power of electronics; reduce life-cycle costs; and improve interoperability while providing warfighters all of the data and communications capability required on the modern battlefield.
Melding the disciplines of spectrum combat will enable greater flexibility and more capabilities.
The growth in battlefield electronics has spurred a corresponding growth in electronic warfare. In the same manner that innovative technologies have spawned new capabilities, electronic warfare is becoming more complex as planners look to incorporate new systems into the battlespace.
Force support will change with both stateside relocation and a new way of functioning.
Support to the U.S. Army warfighter’s communications and electronics assets will be taking a new direction as the Army redeploys back to the United States following more than a decade of combat deployments in Southwest Asia. Years of field maintenance will transition to base support, and the many commercial devices incorporated into battlefield operations will require a new approach to service and sustainment.
Officials work to provide a new cloud approach across the service as well as the Defense Department.
U.S. Army officials estimate that by the end of the fiscal year, they will go into production on a new cloud computing solution that could potentially be made available across the Defense Department and could eventually be used to expand cloud capabilities on the battlefield. The platform-as-a-service product incorporates enhanced automation, less expensive software licensing and built-in information assurance.
The whole becomes greater than the sum of the parts in a networked software engineering realm.
A network built after its major move to a new base is allowing the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command to link diverse communications systems into an overarching network. This enables capabilities ranging from debugging software updates before they are sent to the front to a multinational exercise for validating operational activities.
Aberdeen Proving Ground becomes the home of high-techology development, validation and deployment.
Consolidating its communications-electronics assets in a single location has given the U.S. Army vital resources and flexibility that it needs to address its changing information technology demands during a time of transition. This transition is twofold: not only is Army communications absorbing new commercial technologies and capabilities, the Army itself also is facing substantial changes as a force that has been overseas for more than a decade is redeploying back to its U.S. bases.
The march of digitization has changed the mission of a longtime U.S. Army maintenance and repair depot from fixing broken radio systems in a warehouse to supporting troops using the newest software-driven communications devices in the field. This support ranges from testing or even manufacturing new gear in partnership with industry to integrating new information systems in combat zones.
NIE efforts do not pan out as expected; neither do some other rapid procurement approaches.
The U.S. Army’s Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) events are not working as well as anticipated in moving new technologies into the force, say two Army officials. This lack of success is accompanied by drawbacks in rapid acquisition strategies that may lead to a change in traditional acquisition approaches for communications and information systems.
Bryon Young, executive director, Army Contracting Command - Aberdeen Proving Ground, explains that the NIE process creates problems by attaining some of its goals.