Army's WIN-T Increment 3 Not Dead Yet; Decision May Come Soon
SAN DIEGO — Army officials speaking at the Milcom conference here denied rumors that the third phase of its Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, which is designed to provide communications to units fighting on the move, had been canceled by the office of the secretary of defense.
"I am not sure that there has actually been a decision to cancel the entire program at this point," Brig. Gen. John B. Morrison Jr., commanding general of the 7th signal command, said Nov. 18. "I know that it's being worked as we work our way through it."
"I had not heard of the cancelation of WIN-T increment 3 myself," added Lt. Gen. Mark Bowman, director of C4/Cyber and J-6 on the joint staff.
Morrison said discussions were ongoing.
"The Army on the mission command side, to include WIN-T increment 2, and all of our battlefield operating systems [is] going back in to take a hard look at the network capabilities that we provide and making some programmatic and operational adjustments so that we allow ourselves to get in a position and start iterating our capabilities much better than we have in the past," Morrison said. There are other capabilities that the Army is looking at "bringing forward," he said. He said there could be a decision on how to move forward in the "December timeframe."
WIN-T is currently being fielded in its second phase in Afghanistan, and is designed to provide ad hoc mobile networks for mobile fighting units. One of its features allows each soldier with a radio to serve as a communications node in hilly terrain or urban canyons where line-of-sight connections are lost. Increment 3 is envisioned as making the system more robust. For example, it would have a layer of unmanned aerial vehicles that can serve as repeaters when satellite services are degraded.
The comments were made on the day when General Dynamics C4 Systems announced that it had received a $96 million task order from the Army on WIN-T increment 2, and other options for increment 3 that had not yet been exercised that could be worth up to $475 million.
Chris Marzilli, president of GD C4 Systems, said in a statement that "WIN-T increment 3 ensures that as communications and networking technology advance, the WIN-T systems stay current -- directly benefiting soldiers operating in harm's way while making the armies investments in increment 2 even more cost-effective. Increment 3 will also deliver long-term cost savings by reducing the use of overburdened and expensive satellites while improving the system’s ease of use."
The $96 million would be spent improving the increment 2 capabilities. The statement made no mention of when increment 3 contracts might be exercised. The Army has previously planned to roll out increment 3 in 2017.
Earlier this fall, at the Association for the United States Army annual conference in Washington, D.C., Heidi Shyu, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology and the service's acquisition executive, sounded a pessimistic note on the prospects for increment 3 in light of budget constraints.
"When the top line comes down, I am going to have to assess what is good enough," she said. "Literally, we are doing an assessment right now. [Training and Doctrine Command] is doing assessments of the future of mission command before we make a decision as to what is good enough," she said.