Army Revolutionizes WIN-T Program
Army Revolutionizes WIN-T Program
- By Patience Wait
- Mar 16, 2001
The Army has radically restructured the $5.2 billion Warfighter Information Network-Tactical program by expanding its scope to emphasize next-generation communications technologies.
The revised WIN-T program has added a research and development phase to the competition and has increased the emphasis on mobile communication and off-the-shelf technologies.
The planned 15-year WIN-T contract will serve as the backbone of the Army's various tactical command and control systems, replacing the existing Tri-Service Tactical Communications/Mobile Subscriber Equipment. It will extend a new generation of sophisticated communications devices down to the battalion level, according to Tom Nugent, deputy program manager for WIN-T at the Army's Communications and Electronics Command at Fort Monmouth, N.J. The changes to the program were announced in February.
WIN-T now includes two phases: a new research and development phase and a production phase, Nugent said. "The R&D is required, since we are redefining the communications architecture to reflect the new way we will fight," he said.
Among the companies expected to compete for the contract are AT&T Corp., Basking Ridge, N.J.; Boeing Co., Seattle; General Dynamics Corp., Falls Church, Va.; Lockheed Martin Corp., Bethesda, Md.; Raytheon Co., Lexington, Mass.; and TRW Inc., Cleveland.
Value: $5.2 billion over 15 years
Mission: Replace existing communications architecture and equipment for combat operations
RFP for phase one: Jan. ? March 2002
Prospective Contractors: AT&T Corp., Boeing Co., General Dynamics Corp., Lockheed Martin Corp., Raytheon Co., TRW Inc.
Prospective contractors praised the changes in the Army project, saying WIN-T has evolved from a modernization effort into a revolutionary program.
"There are a lot of folks who will argue modernizing is enough. They're wrong," said Jerry Garretson, director of the command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) program at GRC International Inc., an AT&T subsidiary in Vienna, Va.
Garretson joined the company last year after retiring from the Army, where he was director of architecture for the service's C4 program, which included the WIN-T contract.
"Bridging capabilities [for legacy systems] will be needed until you can actually put this system out there, but you're going to have a much larger gap in capability if you don't look at revolutionizing now," he said.
The original plan for WIN-T was to pick one contractor to develop and build the system, said Syed Akbar, the director of communications systems at TRW's tactical systems division. But the funding was never lined up to get the program under way, which created an opportunity for the Army to re-evaluate its goals.
"The key emphasis in the new program is that WIN-T will be able to support command and control on the move. That's one of the fundamental requirements the warfighters wanted, but it wasn't in the original program," Akbar said.
The new doctrine for the military is to be fast, agile and move lightly, he said, leaving behind the days of heavy forces and fixed infrastructure. The communications network has to support that, including capabilities not just for voice, but for data and video transmissions as well.
With the new approach to WIN-T, the Army is pursuing a "simulation-based acquisition," Garretson said. "They're telling everybody, 'We want you to develop models, demonstrate how your system is really going to perform.' It's the same kind of thing you saw Boeing do for the 777 [jet], the Army for the Comanche helicopter. Now they're doing it for a very complex C4 program."
Garretson said using simulation is smart because it provides advance notice of how a proposed WIN-T system will work and gives the service a chance to address related issues, such as personnel requirements, equipment needs and funding.
The government also is requiring that the winning contractor maintain its modeling and simulation capability to help plan for adding new capabilities even as the system unfolds.
Another significant change in WIN-T is that the Army is stressing the incorporation of off-the-shelf technologies, even though they may need "hardening" for a combat environment, Garretson said.
The Army wants to reduce the size and weight of the communications devices, while increasing capabilities, expanding bandwidth and improving connectivity.
"The strong belief here is that a lot of those things lie in the commercial solutions," he said. "Everybody realizes there's a very large gap between commercial services and military capability."
The RFP for phase one, system integration and demonstration, is expected some time in the second quarter of fiscal 2002. Two prime contractors will be selected to compete for the second phase, which includes both low-rate initial production in fiscal 2005 and full production in fiscal 2008.
In the original timeline for WIN-T, the Army's production schedule would commence in fiscal year 2008, but the schedule did not include low-rate initial production. The restructured approach to the WIN-T acquisition process means "the delivery of this new capability has been accelerated [three years]," Nugent said.
Akbar said the Army intends to award R&D contracts worth $60 million to $70 million each to the two contractors selected in phase one, which will last for about 30 months. The Army will then award a $250 million contract for the low-rate initial production portion of the production contract, with the $4.7 billion balance awarded when full-scale production starts.
This acquisition approach is a form of risk reduction, Akbar said, because the Army will get to see in the simulations what the proposed systems are capable of doing, and the low-rate initial production gives the service a chance to "kick the tires" before it buys the full-scale production run.
A drawback to the approach is that the Army is still spending money on the legacy systems, and that money would be better spent to accelerate the WIN-T program, Akbar said.
"The Army is planning to put in another $800 million in the legacy system over the next five to eight years. They would be better off just turning around and pouring it into this program," he said.
The scope of the contract is bringing together large players to form teams to pursue the contract. For example, TRW's team includes ITT Industries Inc., White Plains, N.Y.; Science Applications International Corp.'s subsidiary Telcordia Technologies Inc., Morristown, N.J.; Raytheon Co., Lexington, Mass.; L3 Communications Holdings Inc., New York; Qualcomm Inc., San Diego; and Sprint Corp., Westwood, Kan.
"We've been working on it for three years," Akbar said.
General Dynamics has reportedly signed up Motorola Inc., Schaumburg, Ill., as its major subcontractor.
No one is big enough to go it alone, Garretson said.
"It requires telecom expertise ? command and control is not enough ? [plus] transmission systems, the switching systems. They really want commercial solutions, so they really should have a number of commercial solution providers on there," he said. "That's why AT&T is interested."