L-3 nets $326M Marine tactical-video deal

Originally posted at 12:51PM March 20; updated at 3:00PM April 4


A Chantilly subsidiary of L-3 Communications will provide the Marine Corps with a video system that gives commanders quick feedback on training exercises under a three-year contract worth $326 million.

L-3 Global Security & Engineering Solutions will lead a team of seven subcontractors rolling out the Praetorian video system at select Marine Corps facilities. The Marine Corps will use the video and audio recordings to help troops improve their combat skills before deploying abroad.

The system consists of dozens of cameras mounted in mock urban settings that record participants from multiple angles as they participate in exercises designed to resemble combat. The system offers after-action analysis for troops while they are still at the site.

The new technology makes it easier to piece together video feeds from different cameras, said Mark Redlinger, vice president of Praetorian for L-3 Global Security & Engineering Solutions. It can provide a 360-degree view of a situation or follow an individual or group along a street or into a town square, he said.

The system provides "continuous coverage of what is going on," Redlinger said. Because of the system's multiple angles, personnel are "no longer looking through a soda straw at a single event that is occurring," he said. Instead, they get a much wider view.

Both Marine personnel and contractors are trained to operate the system. After the training session, the operators provide a DVD to unit commanders and, when requested, to higher-echelon commanders.

The contracting team will install the video system this year at Camp Pendleton, Calif., and the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, Calif., Redlinger said. Additional installations will follow in succeeding years, he said.

The contracting team includes Cisco Systems, L-3 Coleman Aerospace, Henry Brothers Electronics, Tapestry Solutions, Sarnoff Corp., Harris Corp. and Telos Corp.

L-3 Global Security & Engineering Solutions, which has about 3,100 employees, was formed in January through a reorganization of three of the company's divisions. Some of the legacy businesses that make up the unit have been operating in the Washington area for 30 years.

Most of the unit's work is with the Department of Defense, but it also has clients in the federal civilian, state and local governments and in the private sector.

Its civilian agency customers include the departments of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, State and Transportation.

Redlinger said the system uses an open architecture approach that will allows the Marine Corps to upgrade the system in the future. This is particularly important because camera technology is developing so rapidly, he said.

"To the maximum extent possible, we want this to be a totally open architect system for the Marine Corps, so it is not bound in such a way that it cannot leverage future technologies," he said.

L-3 ranks No. 9 on Washington Technology's 2007 Top 100 list of the largest federal government prime contractors.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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