A handful of defense contractors, including Northrop Grumman Corp., won seats on a multi-billion-dollar contract to upgrade the Navy's ship-based computer networks against cybersecurity threats.
The so-called multiple-award contract went to five companies, including major defense contractors such as BAE Systems plc, General Dynamics Corp. and Northrop, as well as smaller companies such as Global Technical Systems and Serco Inc., according to the Aug. 20 announcement.
The potentially eight-year, $2.5 billion agreement calls for upgrading cybersecurity, command and control, communications and intelligence systems -- known in military parlance as C4I -- aboard ships across the fleet as part of the so-called Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services, or CANES, program, according to a press release from Northrop.
The company "is deeply committed to helping the Navy transform its afloat C4I computers and networks into a single integrated, cyber-protected computing network," Sam Abbate, vice president and general manager, command and control division, Northrop Grumman Information Systems, said in the release.
Northrop in 2012 won a contract to begin limited deployment of the technology, which is designed to run on systems in surface combatants, submarines, aircraft and maritime operations centers.
While dozens of companies expressed an early interest in competing against the defense giant for future production of the program, only seven actually did, according to the contract announcement. The two losing firms weren't identified.
Under multiple-award contracts, or MACs, companies win seats on the contract, then compete against each other for individual orders.
The Navy has budgeted about $2 billion for the program over the next five years, including almost $400 million in fiscal 2015, which begins Oct. 1, according to budget documents. The program is the service's only acquisition effort designed to replace existing networks and provide the infrastructure needed "to dominate the cyber warfare domain," the documents state.
It's designed to consolidate aging networks, including the Integrated Shipboard Network Systems, or ISNS; Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System - Maritime, or CENTRIXS-M; Sensitive Compartmented Information networks, or SCI; and Submarine Local Area Network, or SubLAN, they state.
The program "serves as the bridge to the future of Navy afloat networks, consolidating existing legacy and stand-alone networks, providing the necessary infrastructure for applications, systems and services to operate in the tactical domain," according to the contract announcement.
The effort will build "a single complete system, bringing the necessary infrastructure that will enable timely and interoperable information exchange among tactical, support and non-tactical or administrative users, applications and information technology platforms," the announcement states.