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Streamlined Blue Force Tracking System Integrates Combat & Logistics Support

fbcb2_jcr300The US Army is finally integrating a blue-force tracking system common to manoeuvre and logistics elements. For the first time on the battlefield, maneuver and logistics forces will share situational awareness and messaging, forming a complete and...

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ViaSat Receives $13.8 Million Follow-on Delivery Orders for BFT-2 — Press Release

ViaSat Receives $13.8 Million Follow-on Delivery Orders for BFT-2

Orders affirm government desire to transition to enhanced BFT-2 systems as quickly as possible

PR Newswire

CARLSBAD, Calif., Dec. 21, 2010

CARLSBAD, Calif., Dec. 21, 2010 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — ViaSat Inc. (Nasdaq: VSAT) has received delivery orders from PM Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below totaling $13.8 million under its Blue Force Tracking 2 (BFT-2) IDIQ contract. These contracts include the installation and test of production satellite ground station and satellite network control center equipment as well as L-band bandwidth leasing, network ground equipment, and thousands of additional production vehicular transceivers. These next generation BFT-2 systems are designed to enable much faster situational awareness updates and higher transmission speeds.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20091216/VIASATLOGO)

“These follow on task orders demonstrate our customer’s commitment to our new system and the desire to transition to the BFT-2 architecture as quickly as possible,” said Phil Berry, vice president of ViaSat Command and Control Situational Awareness (C2SA). “We’re working closely with the FBCB2 program team to ensure successful fielding of this network upgrade.”

The ViaSat BFT-2 network offers situational awareness updates and increased data throughput. The next generation BFT-2 network is expected to improve situational awareness latency from minutes to just seconds.

The new BFT-2 system is derived from ViaSat mobile satellite communication technology, which enables fast, efficient network access using very small antennas. These systems provide communications-on-the-move (COTM) service to both military and commercial customers.

About ViaSat

ViaSat produces innovative satellite and other digital communication products that enable fast, secure, and efficient communications to virtually any location. The company provides networking products and managed network services for enterprise IP applications; is a key supplier of network-centric military communications and encryption technologies and products to the U.S. government; is the primary technology partner for gateway and customer-premises equipment for consumer and mobile satellite broadband services; and owns WildBlue, the premier Ka-band satellite broadband service provider. ViaSat also offers design capabilities and a number of complementary products including monolithic microwave integrated circuits and modules, DVB-S2 satellite communication components, video data link systems, data acceleration and compression, and mobile satellite antenna systems. Based in Carlsbad, Calif., ViaSat includes a number of worldwide locations for customer service, network operations, and technology development.
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Army Moves Forward with Next Increment of Blue Force Tracking Awarding Contract to Viasat

One of the major issues that was identified in Desert Storm way back in 1991 was a need to minimize Blue-on-Blue engagements. The problem of friendly fire has existed in warfare for generations. The death of Stonewall Jackson at Chancellorsville in 1863 by North Carolina troops being a good example. The increased lethality of modern tank and air launched weapons only exacerbates the problem. The U.S. military has put a lot of money and time into developing systems to track friendly forces and let others know where they are on the battlefield to protect against them. The generic term for these systems is Blue Force Tracking (BFT).

The U.S. Army awarded a contract to ViaSat last week to develop the next increment of their equipment as part of the Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2) Program. The contact is an ID/IQ one worth up to $477 million if all options are exercised. A separate contract for $37 million will be used to buy terminals and other ground equipment supporting BFT. The BFT-2 is part of moving the system to a new network and includes things like terminals to be mounted on aircraft and vehicles, central equipment as well as engineering support services. Northrop Grumman (NOC) remains the lead contractor for BFT and ViaSat and its partners developed this new equipment as part of the overall BFT upgrade program.

As with any contract win there are also losers. Comtech Communications (CMTL) had also bid for this contract but were not selected. The Army told them that the ViaSat bid came in at a much lower price. Comtech had been working on the BFT-1 increment and had successfully received a contract worth $384 million in the past. The loss of this follow on contract significantly affected the company’s share price. Last Wednesday it lost almost twenty-five percent of its share price. Since then it has traded flat. The loss of this contract effort also is affecting a plan by Comtech to acquire CPI International by reducing the value of the stocks being transferred.

Blue Force Tracking is a key combat enabler for the U.S. military. Knowing where you are in relationship to other friendly forces not only prevents blue-on-blue but allows better coordination in combat. The system has been used successfully in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Army continues to move forward in further developing and improving it.

Photo from Nevada Tumbleweed’s flickr phtostream.

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