General Dynamics to develop advanced tablet PCs

General Dynamics Corp. won a $1.3 million contract to develop 10 prototype tablet computers powered by liquid fuel cells to replace the Air Force's current ground air traffic control computers, the company said today.

General Dynamics C4 Systems in Scottsdale, Ariz., will perform the work as a subcontractor to Fairfax, Va.-based SRA International Inc.

The program will combine commercial computer equipment from Itronix Corp. of Spokane, Wash., and privately developed fuel-cell technology from Medis Technologies Ltd. of New York. The goal is to extend field operations and reduce the Air Force's reliance on centrally located recharging equipment and spare batteries.

"This science and technology initiative will equip the Air Force with an enhanced battlefield air operations kit, including an advanced computing platform with increased endurance for dismounted missions in an overall lighter, wearable and more deployable package," said Chris Marzilli, a senior vice president and deputy general manager for General Dynamics C4 Systems, in a statement.

Marzilli said the prototype could also have implications for other Defense Department applications, such as the Joint Tactical Radio System Cluster 5 family of handheld and embedded software-defined radios.

General Dynamics will also evaluate potential modifications to the Itronix GoBook, including compatibility with night vision goggles, increased daylight readability and operation via a passive touch screen.

With 2003 revenues of $16.6 billion, General Dynamics ranked No. 6 on Washington Technology's 2004 Top 100 list, which measures federal contracting revenue.

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