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General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin got another $921 million to continue working on the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T), the Army’s new battlefield communications network.

The new wireless military communications system will link soldiers on the ground with commanders. VertexRSI antennas will provide SATCOM-on-the-move communications in a small radome installed on HMVEES, Bradley Fighting Vehicles or Stryker Infantry Combat Vehicles. Meanwhile Thuraya DSL and Inmarsat’s BGAN appear to provide similar capability.

After WIN-T’s overall cost soared another $2.2 billion to $16.4 billion, the Army in June restructured the program. The new contract modifications cover the second and third phases of the restructured program. Limited user testing is scheduled to begin in 2011.

It’s supposed to leverage the software defined Joint Tactical Radio System (JITTERS), with wide-band digital radios, and wireless local area networks. According to Wikipedia, the JITTERS program was budgeted at $6.8 billion to produce 180,000 radios (an average cost per radio of $37,700). But due to the delays in the program, the DOD has been forced to spend an estimated $11 billion to purchase legacy tactical radios.

The DOD hoped to use a laser satellite, the Transformational Communications Satellite (T-SAT), for UAV backhaul — wishfull thinking it turned out. John Stenbit, the DOD’s chief information officer, helped launch the Global Information Grid Bandwidth Expansion, Joint Tactical Radio System and Transformational Communications Satellite programs.

Members of the Senate Appropriations Committee are concerned about WIN-T’s lack of progress which could lead to additional costs and schedule slips, and want GAO Comptroller General David Walker to deliver a report to the congressional defense committees by June 30, 2008. The WIN-T network is part of a $459.3 billion defense spending bill for 2008. The full Senate will likely vote on the bill later this month.

The Nunn-McCurdy law requires the Pentagon to notify Congress when cost growth on a major acquisition program reaches 15 percent. If the cost growth hits 25 percent, Nunn-McCurdy requires the Pentagon to justify continuing the program based on three main criteria: (1) its importance to U.S. national security; (2) the lack of a viable alternative; and (3) evidence that the problems that led to the cost growth are under control.

New images of the NRO’s Lacrosse satellite, acquired by British amateur observer John Locker, reportedly show the secret craft in unprecedented detail.

Meanwhile, Fortress Technologies demonstrated a secure, wireless backbone as part of a deployable RFID “kit” during a III Marine Expeditionary Force exercise in Gladstone Port, Australia. The exercise, which included military units from both the United States and its Coalition partners, provides simulated real-life scenarios in order to test in an operational environment.

The Emergency Management One smart card, available only to first responders, will be available with either the 125 KHz proximity chip, which has no storage, or the 13.56 MHz DESfire contactless chip with 4K or 8K storage capacity. Data on the DESfire chips can be encrypted with the Triple DES algorithm. Omnilink Systems uses a combination of gps, RFID and situation-specific sensors to transmit real-time information using commercial cellular networks for house-arrest programs.

Super RFID technology uses long-range radar responsive (RR) tags. Originally, the active 430 MHz tags were designed using technology derived from a radar device requiring line-of-sight for reading. Since then, Sandia has modified the technology to its current form, which employs RFID to transmit ID numbers instead of radar. Whether it could be interrogated by space radar like Lacrosse is unknown.

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