General Dynamics Decision Systems in Scottsdale has won a contract potentially worth $304 million over 10 years to provide an improved communications system for U.S. Air Force cargo and troop-transport planes.
Called the Secure Enroute Communication Package - Improved, or SECOMP-I, the airborne system will provide voice and data communications to commanders and their staffs on board C-17 and C-130 transport aircraft while they are enroute to battle zones.
The system will allow them to modify their plans based on the latest information, according to the U.S. Army Communications Electronics Command at Ft. Monmouth, N.J., which is purchasing the equipment. The system also will provide communications among aircraft throughout the aerial formation, giving all of the troops information on what to expect.
“SECOMP-I enables . . . forces to arrive at their deployment destinations fully briefed on the most current intelligence reports, improving their ability to see first, understand first, act first and finish decisively,” the command said.
The initial contract is for nearly $7 million, but future extensions could expand the value to $304 million, the company said. Each unit consists of computers and communications equipment in transit cases, said Sue Johnson, program manager for General Dynamics.
The units are designed to roll on and roll off the airplanes so they can be used on different types of aircraft rather than being permanently installed on each airplane. The improved version replaces the first generation, also developed by General Dynamics, which provided only voice communication. Ten of older units were delivered to the Army last summer to meet an urgent need within the Army's 82nd Airborne division.
The improved version provides data communication as well as voice, allowing commanders to receive pictures and access the Internet while airborne. Theoretically, the commander could consult CNN or other news Web sites while headed toward the battlefield, Johnson said. “This new system will give them ability to plan their missions. If the situation changes, they can re-plan the mission.”
The first generation allowed communication between aircraft, but not securely. All of the communications in the new system will be secure, Johnson said.
At least 144 units of the updated system could be purchased by the Army over the 10 years of the program. Although designed for the U.S. Army, it could be used by other armed services as well.
Scottsdale-based General Dynamics Decision Systems is a division of General Dynamics, and is one of the largest defense contractors. Decision Systems specializes in communications equipment for the military and other government customers.