WASHINGTON — Leidos won a contract Dec. 29 to deliver the next iteration of the Army's Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System, unseating Raytheon as the long-time incumbent on the program.
AFATDS is a joint and coalition command and control fires support system. The deal with Leidos sets up a three-year contract with a two-year option worth $98 million, according to an Army statement released Tuesday.
Leidos will make "significant upgrades" to the system used to plan, coordinate and control mortars, field artillery cannons, rockets, guided missiles, close air support and naval gunfire and artillery, the statement reads.
The modernization effort is a software upgrade that addresses both the system architecture and also the user interface. The system Leidos will deliver to the Army will have the technologies and standards to function within the Army's Common Operating Environment, which takes stove-piped capabilities and brings them together using integrated software.
Working within the COE is key for a system like AFATDS in order to best synchronize available fires support attack information and to ensure the right munitions are fired against a threat.
Col. Troy Crosby, the Army's project manager for Mission Command, said the newest iteration of AFATDS "represents a vital change" with the redesigned user interface and embedded training, making it easier for soldiers to use while reducing required training time.
The Leidos win can also be seen as beneficial for Lockheed Martin, which combined its Information Systems & Global Solutions (IS&GS) businesses with Leidos to create a $10 billion portfolio in January 2016.
Raytheon first entered into an agreement with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in 1981 to develop AFATDS and received its first contract in 1984. AFATDS was approved for fielding in 1996.
According to the Army’s statement, AFATDS has supported operations in Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom.
AFATDS is 100 percent fielded with more than 4,000 systems. The newest version is expected to be fielded in fiscal year 2020.
Raytheon said it couldn’t provide specifics on award values over the course of the program, but sources say it was a lucrative endeavor for the company. Raytheon successfully fielded 13 versions since 1984.
The company would not disclose if it planned to file a protest with the Government Accountability Office (GAO), but, a spokesman told Defense News on Wednesday, "Our proposed AFATDS solution leverages our extensive experience and proven performance across a broad spectrum of Command and Control programs. We plan to attend the post-award debrief and welcome the US Army’s feedback."
While the Army would not respond to follow-up questions regarding competition details, following the release of its statement, other competitors included General Dynamics Mission Systems and Northrop Grumman, Defense News has learned.
GD’s response Wednesday was similar to Raytheon’s. A company spokesman said GD was "disappointed" by the decision on the AFATDS competition and also "look[s] forward to receiving a debrief later this week from the Army."
The service said in its statement, by choosing Leidos it "used a best value, trade-off source selection via a full and open competitive strategy. Based on the market research results, the government pursued a full and open competition to implement the most innovative industry approach possible to address AFATDS 7.0 requirements while reducing risk and continuing to implement new capabilities."
Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts from Kenyon College.