BUFFALO, N.Y. — U.S. Army officials have said they do not know how much it will cost to begin shipping the Warfighter Information Network Tactical and associated Capability Sets (CS) of radios and communications equipment to two Afghanistan-bound brigade combat teams in October.
Several documents obtained by Defense News are able to put some meat on the program’s bones, however.
A June 27 document produced by the Army’s G 3/5/7 office lists the various CS 13 systems and the ground vehicles they will be integrated with, and totals $270 million per brigade combat team (BCT).
It is unclear how many BCTs that number covers, though it likely refers to the first three BCTs. Questions posed to three Army offices involved in the program — the G 3/5/7; the G8, which handles resourcing and development; and the System of Systems Integration (SoSI) directorate, which oversees much of the modernization program — were met with denials that anyone in the Army had tabulated how much the system will cost.
A spokeswoman from SoSI said their office is still working on the numbers and a final figure is a work in progress.
The Army has spent more than $470 million over the past two years as part of its network and communications modernization program, which includes brigade-sized evaluations at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., and the evaluation of technologies at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., and other labs across the country.
The money to field CS 13 is parceled out among program management offices, as opposed to one systemwide program office, said Paul Mehney, chief of communications for the SoSI office. In an email, he said “resourcing for procurement, life cycle management, integration and fielding of the systems is accounted for in each individual program line.”
Given that, Mehney and a spokesman for the Army’s G8 office both said their organizations have no general accounting of the overall cost of the sets.
The Army document provides numbers of various systems for the first time. It calls for 639 Net Warrior equipped Rifleman Radios per brigade and 1,917 systems for the first three brigades. Nett Warrior provides the dismounted soldier with voice, video and networking capabilities, putting the individual soldier in contact with higher headquarters for the first time.
The Army is also looking to procure 2,325 Rifleman radios for all three brigades to equip dismounted soldiers. General Dynamics, which is the lead on the WIN-T, makes the Nett Warrior and Rifleman systems.
It also calls for 1,995 of Harris Corp.’s 117G Manpack radios for all three brigades.
Industry sources have noted the Army has not issued contracts for this equipment, and they expect the service to conduct one more open competition this summer before making a procurement decision.
Adding weight to the numbers found in the G 3/5/7 document, which is labeled a “working draft,” is the omnibus funding bill the Defense Department delivered to Congress on June 29, which asked for funds to be repurposed to assist in fielding the sets.
Both documents list $59.4 million to integrate CS 13 components onto Humvees for use as stateside trainers for units on predeployment work-ups. Both also identify $28 million to fund the Company Command Post function of CS 13, and $51 million to install the 117G radios on MRAPs.
CS 13 is the first major test of the service’s new “agile process” acquisition plan that aims to purchase mature communications and computing technologies more often and in smaller quantities than traditional procurement actions, and to upgrade them quickly when new technologies come online.
In addition to the 3rd and 4th BCTs from the 10th Mountain Division, which will receive CS 13 in October to begin their train-up for their 2013 Afghan deployments, the 4th BCT from the 25th Infantry Division is also slated to begin training on the equipment in the summer of 2013.
The G 3/5/7 slides also indicate that the 1st, 2nd and 3rd BCTs from the 101st Airborne Division will be next in line to receive the training sets in fiscal year 2013, followed by the 1st BCT of the 2nd Infantry Division at an unspecified date.
While Army officials have stressed that Stryker vehicles are a priority for the network sets, Elizabeth Miller, SoSI synchronized fielding chief engineer, said Stryker units won’t begin to train on the equipment until 2014, although plans are being drawn up for integrating the electronics onto the vehicles.