News From Washington

Raytheon Awarded $54 M for Army Communications Programs

Raytheon Electronic Systems has received a contract from the US Army Communications and Electronics Command (CECOM), Fort Monmouth, NJ, which is valued at $44 M. The contract provides for Raytheon's development, manufacture, installation and provision of logistics support for the multiplex integration and defense communications satellite system automation systems (MIDAS) for the global network of 88 defense satellite communication system nodes. MIDAS provides user data interfaces, multiplexing and cryptographic functions for worldwide defense communication. The system is designed to improve efficiency through automation and lower operating and maintenance costs. Together with team members COMSAT-RSI and DNE Technologies, Raytheon will supply systems for integration of equipment that offers modular multiplexers and cryptographic modules, matrix switching and asynchronous transfer-mode processing baseband communications equipment. The technology and modular packaging to be used are expected to reduce the current 10-rack MIDAS configuration to a single rack at most locations. Raytheon has also been awarded $10 M by CECOM for low rate initial production of programmable virtual machine environment INFOSEC modules in support of tactical mobile, transportable secure communications capabilities. The modules are expected to replace current equipment that is larger, heavier and more expensive.

RFID Tag Contract Awarded

Savi Technology Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Raytheon TI Systems, has been awarded an $111 M contract to supply RF identification (RFID) equipment, software and services to the US military. The contract calls for the provision of automated RFID technology that will enable the services to locate, monitor and track the status of goods and supplies worldwide. If all contract options are exercised, the total contract length will be five years. The RFID system will employ both active and passive transponder tags combining two-way RF technology and microchip computers in packages the size of cellular phones. Hand-held units also combining RF functions and computers will function as interrogators to read the information on the radio tags, which then will be transferred to a central asset management system. Using this technology, the US Army will reportedly gain improved flow and optimization of its assets. Savi Technology expects to use commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) products and technologies that integrate with the military's management information and legacy automatic information technology systems. The RFID systems will employ a modular, open-system architecture; a collective COTS portfolio of more than 150 RFID and related products; and easy-to-use software that provides a single interface throughout the system. Major subcontractors on the program include Amtech Systems Corp., Dallas, TX; Intermec, Everett, WA; Logicon Syscon, Falls Church, VA; Science Applications International Corp., San Diego, CA; and the TIRIS product division of Texas Instruments, which will supply passive RFID products.

DoD Satellite Communications Needs Expected to Exceed System Capacity

In its report, "Alternative to DoD's Satellite Replacement Plan Would Be Less Costly" (GAO/NSIAD-97-159), the General Accounting Office (GAO) analyzes the anticipated growth in demand for Department of Defense (DoD) satellite communications traffic and the planned increases in the capacity of its defense satellite communications system (DSCS). The GAO recommends a major change in the DoD's plan that would lead to significant savings for the program. The DSCS presently has five operational satellites, each with communications throughput capacities of approximately 100 Mbps. Five additional satellites of the current design, the last to be acquired, are scheduled for launch through 2003 to replenish the existing constellation. During the next 10 years, DoD requirements for high capacity satellite communications will increase sharply because of the shift in national military strategy and its desire to take advantage of advanced satellite communications technologies. The DSCS replenishment satellites will not be able to serve the projected requirements even though most of them will have capacities twice that of existing satellites. The service gap is expected to be filled by leasing satellite communications services from commercial operators. Total demand for DoD satellite communications is estimated to be 1 Gbps this year and is expected to increase to 3.6 Gbps by 2006. At these rates, only 50 percent of current demand is satisfied by DSCS. The other half must be accommodated by commercial leasing. If demand grows at a linear rate, 75 percent of demand would have to be satisfied by leasing or go unsatisfied in 2005. Currently, leasing costs average $450 K per year for 1 Mbps. With a 1 Gbps demand and a 500 Mbps DSCS capacity, satisfying all remaining requirements would entail leasing costs of $225 M. By 2005, the DoD's annual leasing cost would be over $1 B to satisfy all requirements. In the face of these expenses, the GAO recommends that launches of the new high capacity DSCS satellites be scheduled to start in 2003 rather than 2006. Commercial leasing costs are estimated to be $6.2 B through 2006 under existing plans to begin DSCS replenishment in 2006. On the other hand, if the DoD began launching commercial-like high capacity satellites in 2003, commercial leasing costs to fulfill all projected demand through 2006 would be $3.4 B, a savings of $2.8 B. The accelerated introduction of high capacity DSCS satellites will require the transfer of $945 M of DoD funds from FY 2004-2006 to 1999-2003. The GAO recommends that the DoD the take this step in its FY 1999 future years defense program, the first opportunity for the DoD to address such a funding transfer.

Lockheed Process to Reduce Parts Obsolescence Costs in Future Aircraft

Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems (LMTAS) and Sanders, another Lockheed Martin company, have fabricated the first prototype clone replacement for an obsolete airborne printed circuit assembly. The recent effort was driven by the need to address the growing problem of diminishing manufacturing sources (DMS) faced by the DoD and appears likely to produce significant cost savings through the use of collaborative tools and electronic specifications. The DMS problem stems from the short commercial life spans (typically 18 months) of digital electronic components compared to the long service life (typically 15 to 20 years) of the weapons systems employing these components. Parts obsolescence contributes significantly to the fact that operation and support (O&S) costs amount to 65 to 70 percent of the total life cycle costs of major weapons systems. The clone replacement process is expected to reduce O&S costs by 10 to 15 percent within the next 12 to 24 months. The prototype development process is based on a very high speed IC description language (VHDL) model for an obsolete printed circuit assembly created by transforming information from an existing design database. The developed model is tested for compliance against the original circuit board specifications in a virtual development environment using commercially available tools. In the simulation environment, the design of the obsolete hardware can be adapted to modern component technology. To a large extent, cloning preserves the embedded system software and support equipment interfaces and permits the major effort to be directed at advancing the component technology. The work was performed collaboratively by LMTAS and Sanders under a VHDL Design Environment for Legacy Electronics contract awarded by the US Air Force's Wright Laboratories. Wright Laboratories used the models for formal certification and Rome Laboratories developed some of the tools.