Raytheon [RTN] yesterday said it received an $81 million Army contract to develop and produce a new version of the Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System (AFATDS).

The contract extends over a 24-month period, with an $18 million, 12-month option.

The new AFATDS version is to provide general and fires command and control capabilities to ground forces, from mission planning to execution.

AFATDS is designed to integrate and use information from a variety of sources to create a common operational picture.

The system is also part of the Army’s network.

“AFATDS is transported by the network but also provides data into it,” said Paul Mehney, Chief of Public Communication for the System of Systems Integration Directorate, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology. “AFATDS is a key capability that enables fire mission assessments as part of the (Network Integration Evaluation) NIE and is a capability that we are assessing as part of mission command collapse to support future capability sets.”

The AFATDS uses the information and common operational picture to plan, coordinate and control battlefield elements, including mortars, close air support, naval gunfire, attack helicopters, offensive electronic warfare, field artillery cannons, rockets and guided missiles.

“Our system brings the network to the battlefield and to front-line personnel, providing them with complete and accurate information about their environment,” said Kim Kerry, vice president of C4I Systems for Raytheon’s Network Centric Systems business. “Soldiers in the line of fire will be able to select the right weapons for the right targets at the right time.”

Version 6.8X of the system will focus on improving and simplifying the user interface while enhancing speed and capabilities.

The Army AFATDS program has significant joint interest in the automated command and control (C2) system for the Fires Warfighting Function used by the Army, Navy and Marines. To date, more than 5,100 systems are fielded worldwide.

Raytheon provides full life-cycle support, beginning in the development phase, supporting stringent government testing, and supporting the product in the field.