Defense shifts funding for command and control systems in 2011

Administration asks to reduce funding for joint radios and mobile communications system, while proposing a budget boost for its global command network.

The Army plans to test a satellite-based battlefield communication system that will give commanders the ability to send and receive information at nine times the data rate of the average standard home Internet connection, according to the Defense Department's fiscal 2011 budget for command and control systems.

The Army has started fielding small Ka-band satellite terminals through its Warfighter Information Network-Tactical program, which can provide 56 megabytes per second data rates to combat units when they are stationary, according to the budget.

After testing the system, developed by Lockheed Martin Corp., next year, the Army plans to field terminals in 2012 that will allow the system to be mobile. The Army requested a $620.9 million budget for WIN-T in fiscal 2011, down 14 percent from the $725.8 million budget in fiscal 2010.

WIN-T uses the Boeing-developed Wideband Global Satellite System for connectivity, and Defense requested a $327.7 million budget for the program in fiscal 2011, a 15 percent increase from the $284.1 million budget in fiscal 2010 for the space systems budget. Defense said the additional funds will support integration and testing of the fourth and fifth wideband satellites and the purchase of two more satellites.

Defense requested $1.06 billion for the Joint Tactical Radio System for fiscal 2011, up 7 percent from $990 million in fiscal 2010. JTRS, which Defense started to develop in 1997, is supposed to replace myriad air, naval and ground radio systems with a suite of software-based radios. But in March 2009, the Government Accountability Office reported that the broadband JTRS radio will not be fielded until at least 2017, 20 years after the program started.

A Navy-managed satellite program designed to provide voice and low data rate service to small shipboard or backpacked ground terminals, called the Mobile User Objective System, would get a modest $5.6 million increase to $911.4 million in fiscal 2011 if approved by Congress.

The White House targeted the Pentagon's next generation command and control system, which the Defense Information Systems Agency has been developing since 2006, for termination. The Obama administration said it wanted to kill the Net-Enabled Command Capability "because the program was significantly behind schedule. The program was unlikely to attain its initial operating functionality, and meet the requirements of combat forces, within a reasonable period of time," the budget noted.

DISA said in its budget request that it intends to add capabilities to the Global Command and Control System-Joint to replace the canceled program and requested $92.2 million in fiscal 2011, up 21 percent from $76.1 million in fiscal 2010.