Boeing: Network-centric operations worth $200 billion

The market for network-centric defense systems will hit $200 billion over the next 10 years, a Boeing official said today.

Speaking at a company-sponsored breakfast in Washington, Roger Roberts, senior vice president of Boeing's Space and Intelligence Systems division, said recent contract awards indicate the government is serious about implementing network-centric operations, what Boeing calls an integrated battlespace.

"The government will make decisions between legacy and transformational systems over the next couple years," Roberts said. "Their commitment to the Future Combat Systems program proves their resolve to move forward."

Last year Chicago-based Boeing and Science Applications International Corp., San Diego, won a $15 billion contract to begin work on the FCS program, which will be a networked system that links soldiers with both manned and unmanned ground and air platforms and sensors.

Roberts said Boeing has had to change its thinking to capture network-centric operations contracts. "There were people in Boeing who thought the military would never procure these types of systems," he said.

Roberts said he expects Boeing to capture half of the $200 billion network-centric operations business. Over the last four years, Boeing has increased its take of the business to $7 billion a year, up from $1 billion annually.

Roberts broke network-centric systems down into four categories: battle communication networks; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; integrated command and control, which includes FCS; and global situational awareness.

In January, Boeing won a $472 million contract from the Air Force to lead a team in developing the space-based Transformational Communications MILSATCOM system. This system incorporates laser communications, next-generation processors and routers, Internet protocol, information assurance, network management and other technologies into an architecture that is compatible with future and legacy space and ground network systems.

Among its other network-centric operations projects, Boeing is also part of a team lead by Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed Martin that is competing for the Navy's Mobile User Objective System, a new, narrowband tactical satellite communications system.

Roberts said he also expects Boeing to be one of two prime contractors selected this spring to compete for a classified wideband communications relay satellite that will use laser technology to move data in space at more than 100 gigabits per second.

Boeing is also eyeing the Air Force and Navy components of the Joint Tactical Radio System, which Roberts said would be competed this year.

Roberts emphasized the importance of all the network-centric operations programs in transforming the military and said he considers FCS development a proving ground for the network-centric concept.

Boeing will open an integration center in the Crystal City area of Arlington, Va., similar to the center it runs in Anaheim, Calif., which will help demonstrate network-centric operations in action. The company is also working with an industry consortium that includes Accenture Ltd., Cisco Systems Inc., General Dynamics Corp., IBM Corp., Northrop Grumman Corp., Raytheon Co. and others that are helping to define the communications protocols and data formats that can be used across the various components of a network-centric architecture.

"Whoever wins [the various contracts], the country gets the benefit of this network," Roberts said.

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