Cyber Deal Tops Pentagon’s Weekly Contracts

Cyber Deal Tops Pentagon’s Weekly Contracts

A multi-billion-dollar contract to upgrade the Navy’s ship-based computer networks against cybersecurity threats topped the list of contracts announced by the Pentagon last week.

The Defense Department awarded 75 contracts potentially worth $6.2 billion in the week ending Aug. 22, according to a Military​.com analysis of announcements.

More than a third of that value came from an Aug. 20 contract the Navy awarded to five companies to upgrade cybersecurity, command and control, communications and intelligence (C4I) systems aboard ships across the fleet as part of the so-called Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services, or CANES, program.


The potentially eight-year, $2.5 billion agreement went to major defense contractors, including Northrop Grumman Corp., as well as smaller firms, and is designed to enhance networking systems in surface combatants, submarines, aircraft and maritime operations centers.

Excluding deals for construction and logistics services, some of the biggest contracts of the week were for communications or information technology-related products.

Harris Corp. Aug. 20 won a potentially $450 million contract from the Defense Information Systems Agency to maintain and support the Crisis Management System, which provides secure video conferencing for the president and his advisers, including the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The program is run by the National Security Staff but maintained by DISA under the direction of the National Security Council.

Lockheed Martin Corp., the world’s largest defense contractor, also on Aug. 20 landed a Navy deal worth as much as $420 million to integrate and test a new version of the Aegis weapon system, the service’s main system for tracking and targeting threats to surface ships.

The work entails “shipboard integration engineering, Aegis test team support, Aegis modernization team engineering support, ballistic missile defense test team support, and AWS element assessments” related to a version of the system known as Advanced Capability Build 12, according to the announcement.

That version of the system will upgrade computer hardware and software on the service’s Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruisers (CG 59–73), as well as Arleigh Burke-class destroyers (DDG 51–78), including new-construction vessels such as the DDG 113, according to budget documents.

The program’s schedule in fiscal 2015, which begins Oct. 1, calls for at-sea testing of the DDG 53, the USS John Paul Jones, and qualification trials of the DDG 52, the USS Barry, and DDG 65, the USS Benfold, according to the documents.

While parts of the Joint Tactical Radio System may be dead, others live on. Data Link Solutions LLC on Aug. 19 received a $124 million modification to an existing contract with the Navy to  further develop the radio’s so-called Multifunctional Information Distribution System, or MIDS, to pass a critical design review.

The contract calls for adding so-called tactical targeting network technology, or TTNT, to the digital voice and data system, which is designed to provide four jam-resistant channels — up from one on existing terminals – while supplying tactical air navigation, or TACAN, Link-16, J-Voice and other information to troops.

The Air Force’s Joint STARS surveillance plane last year became the first platform to be outfitted with the MIDS technology.

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Software contracts are the thing defense contractors most love to bid on. The overhead costs for software development are low and the number of development process controls is very high. This is the perfect storm for accomplishing very little work over a very long time frame. Plus if the defense contractors put a few stupid people in just the right places, they can have a maximum effect on reducing productivity. It’s the pointy hair boss scenario at its worst. A typical contractor labor estimate will be 8 billable hours per line of code, with labor rates that now reach into the mid $300/hr range. For those of you who work for small, lean software companies, imagine how rich you could be if you could bill the government nearly $3,000 dollars per line of code, and that is purely the cost of writing the code. It doesn’t include test, which is factored on top of that estimate. It’s another beautiful day to be a defense contractor. It’s too bad for you stupid taxpayers that make these days possible.

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