The Department of Defense announced today that it has completed an international agreement for cooperative production of Multifunctional Information Distribution System (MIDS) terminals with France, Germany, Italy and Spain on production lines to be established in both the United States and Europe.
MIDS terminals offer coalition aircraft and ground-based platforms common tactical battlespace information required for critical NATO operations, providing jam-resistant, secure, digital voice and data communications to the warfighter.
The agreement, signed on behalf of the Department of Defense by Jacques S. Gansler, under secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, is viewed as an important milestone in DoD's efforts to promote interoperability in systems and equipment, not only for U.S. forces, but also with these NATO partners.
The MIDS agreement also comes as a response to "lessons learned" in after action analyses of the 1998-1999 Kosovo NATO engagement. One of the most important recommendations coming out of the Kosovo action was for greater interoperability of communications assets in order to improve joint political and military interface during crisis situations.
The MIDS agreement establishes a cooperative and competitive acquisition strategy between the United States and several European coalition partners, one that promotes transatlantic cooperation and reflects, according to Gansler, a "realization that, in the future, most actions will be coalition engagements."
"That being the case," said Gansler, "we must promote interoperability of equipment so that we can talk to each other, share intelligence information, utilize systems that provide us all with common battlespace awareness, and establish procurement strategies to produce these systems cooperatively and economically, whenever possible, on both sides of the Atlantic."
Under the terms of the agreement, the five participants will share common procurement requirements, and orders will be placed competitively among United States-led and European-led industry teams.
In order to establish immediate production capability, initial contracts will be awarded to Data Link Systems and Viasat in the United States, and EUROMIDS (to be formed in the near future by several European companies).
Competition for future production units will begin after successful qualification of United States and European lines.
The agreement is in effect for nine years and calls for production of more than 2,700 terminals.