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Satnews Daily
April 4th, 2019

Hughes Network Systems to Recommend Modernization of U.S. Army's Blue Force Tracking Program

Hughes Network Systems, LLC (HUGHES) has been awarded a two-year Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) by the U.S. Army for the third phase of the Blue Force Tracking (BFT-3) program.

Under the agreement, Hughes and other industry participants will conduct research studies to deliver a series of recommendations for modernizing the BFT system architecture to improve interoperability and resiliency, as part of an Open System Architecture (OSA) consortium working to achieve more flexible network tracking of friendly force locations. Hughes will present recommendations to bolster operational resiliency with emphasis on maintaining communications in contested environments.

The Army is beginning a long-term initiative to significantly upgrade its key situational awareness network Blue Force Tracking, commonly known as BFT, which provides friendly force tracking information and is integrated on more than 98,000 platforms across the Army and joint services.

Photo is courtesy of the U.S. Army.

The OSA results under the CRADA will include modular network architecture recommendations for the U.S. Army to integrate various military and commercial networks and services using new standardized interfaces. This approach is expected to foster innovation through increased competition, eliminating single-vendor dependence on closed networks and yielding truly best-in-class technology solutions for the military.

The final CRADA reports are expected to precede competitive procurements of the next generation BFT system in 2020 or 2021.

Rick Lober, VP and GM of Defense and Intelligence Systems at Hughes said the company will define the open architecture of next generation systems and looks forward to providing a unique perspective to the effort as one of the world's largest commercial suppliers of satellite communications equipment and services. As a case in point, the firm's advanced waveform technology has led to key breakthroughs in overcoming system jamming, which paired with prototypes of a Flexible Modem Interface (FMI) for military terminals, makes Hughes a natural fit to support the Army's objectives. This contract represents great progress in the military's efforts to achieve greater interoperability across communications platforms.