Magazine article National Defense

Coast Guard Project Aims for Rapid Response

Magazine article National Defense

Coast Guard Project Aims for Rapid Response

Article excerpt

The Coast Guard is aggressively pursuing the modernization of its 30-year old National Distress and Response System. The service said the upgraded system would add significantly to its growing homeland security mission. Three companies-General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin and SAIC-are vying for a one billion-dollar contract, which would extend to 2020. The companies were each awarded a contract in 2000 to develop the preliminary system design. The downselect will take place this fall.

The existing system is antiquated and is starting to have reliability problems, according to the Coast Guard. Oftentimes, communication is garbled and there are areas where different posts cannot communicate with one another.

The old system leaves 14 percent of the regions uncovered. The 46 Coast Guard regions, at this point, are all autonomous. The modernized system will be a nationwide communication platform that could cover most of the currently existing gaps.

"This system provides situational awareness up to 20 nautical miles from the shore," said Jeff Osman, of General Dynamics. …

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