Home' Army Acquisition Logistics and Technology Magazine : Army ALT October-December 2017 Contents the Army recently executed an innovative competitive contract
and procurement approach for the next generation of AFATDS
More than 4,000 AFATDS systems have been fielded worldwide.
The program is managed by the Project Manager for Mission
Command (PM MC), assigned to the Program Executive Office
for Command, Control and Communications – Tactical (PEO
C3T). Over the past year, PM MC, as well as its Product Man-
ager for Fire Support Command and Control, developed an
acquisition strategy with the goal of improving cost, perfor-
mance and schedule for the next generation of AFATDS, 7.0,
which is projected to begin fielding in 2020.
This approach, which mirrors software development best prac-
tices, opened up competition for software development and
enabled the Army to reduce the training burden associated
with AFATDS. It aimed to do so by increasing application
usability through a role-based capability with a more intuitive
user interface; providing embedded training capabilities; cre-
ating a service-oriented architecture that reduces sustainment
costs; and incorporating COE services to allow the Army to
migrate to a common infrastructure, thereby reducing the need
to develop, manage and sustain multiple stand-alone systems.
The strategy included asking industry to develop innovative
approaches to modernizing the existing AFATDS cyclical code
(which totaled more than 7 million lines), enhancing usability,
reducing the training burden and ensuring integration into the
COE infrastructure. It also sought sustainment efficiencies as
the code had become more difficult and costly to maintain after
more than 30 years of add-on development.
The end goal is that AFATDS 7.0 will modernize the code,
enhance modularity and incorporate more modern program-
ming languages, resulting in cost avoidances and efficiencies
during sustainment. It also will feature a service-oriented archi-
tecture that organizes services and functions into layers to
reduce the complexity of the code and system architecture.
Additional cost avoidances will be realized by reducing the
AFATDS training burden by incorporating TurboTax-like train-
ing capabilities and a more user-friendly graphical user interface.
For example, a user learning a task can watch a 30-second video
showing what steps to perform, request a simulation of the task,
or request a detailed 30-minute video. It also provides an ava-
tar trainer that can track movements and progression through
These upgrades will capitalize on the COE infrastructure
to avoid the duplication of cost associated with a redundant
To achieve these goals, PM MC took the somewhat unusual step
of releasing source code and all requirements to industry for an
extended period of time via a secure means. That step paid off,
resulting in the outcome the team was aiming for.
The AFATDS 7.0 solicitation marks the first time an AFATDS
development effort had been competed through full and open
competition since its inception in 1981. Therefore, in alignment
with DOD’s Better Buying Power initiatives, the Army’s first
step was to maximize competition, as well as to encourage high-
qua lity and innovative proposals.
To accomplish this, PM MC took three additional market
research steps, compared with typical solicitations, for AFATDS
7.0. First, the team posted a sources sought notice and then
two iterations of requests for information (RFIs) on the Fed-
eral Business Opportunities website for eight months before a
draft request for proposal (RFP) was released. In addition, the
TAKING LESS TIME TO GET UP TO SPEED
Staff Sgt. Nicole Mayberry completes a practical exercise using AFATDS
at a field artillery military occupational specialty course hosted by the
Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 426th Regional Training Institute at
Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, in January 2016. New approaches to AFTADS
upgrades will yield a system that’s easier to operate and faster to learn,
and is expected to begin fielding in 2020. (U.S. Army photo by Capt.
Joe Trovato, Wisconsin Army National Guard)
92 Army AL&T Magazine
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