Unix Notebooks Headed To Iraq - InformationWeek

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8/21/2003
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Unix Notebooks Headed To Iraq

Army chooses lighter units with Wi-Fi capabilities that can quickly be set up and moved as needed

The U.S. Armed Forces can look forward to reinforcements by the end of the year. IT reinforcements, that is. General Dynamics Corp. plans to ship about 500 of its V2 64-bit Unix-based portable computers to troops in Afghanistan and Iraq over the next few months, replacing heavier, less-mobile field technology.

V2 computers are essentially 15-pound laptops with 15-inch monitors that run on Sun Microsystems' Solaris operating system and UltraSparc processor. Tadpole Computer Inc. supplies General Dynamics with the electrical components, and General Dynamics engineers encase them in a rugged shell. They can quickly be set up and moved as battlefield situations dictate.

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The Army will use the V2 to run its artillery-and analysis-system apps.

The V2 computers, still in preproduction testing, will initially be used by the Army to run its Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System and All Source Analysis System applications. The Army uses the artillery-system app to precisely home in on enemy targets. The analysis-system app is used for collecting and analyzing intelligence data. The Army currently uses Data General Compact Computer Units, but they weigh 55 pounds and are much less mobile than the V2.

The V2 has Wi-Fi connectivity or can be cabled to a field radio and communicate over very-high-frequency radio waves. The latter is more secure than Wi-Fi today, says Chris Marzilli, VP and general manager of commercial hardware systems for General Dynamics C4 Systems.

With battlefields as spread out as they are in Afghanistan and Iraq, the military is demanding laptop computers, Marzilli says. "When you save on weight and size, you save on logistics costs," he says.

General Dynamics has a 10-year, $2 billion Defense Department contract to supply computers, network hardware equipment, power subsystems, peripheral devices, and commercial software. Tadpole estimates that up to $90 million of this contract will be used for its laptops.

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