The U.S. Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command has selected five vendors to build and deliver the service’s next-generation tactical afloat network, Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (Canes).

The companies will be able to compete for future Canes work. Each vendor will be awarded an indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity firm-fixed-price and cost-plus-fixed-fee contract, with the estimated total combined value for all the transactions reaching about $2.5 billion.

The contract has an eight-year ordering period up to the contract award amount. There are no options. Contract actions will be issued and funds obligated as individual delivery orders. Funds will be placed on contract with an initial-delivery order issued to each contractor on record at the time of award.

The vendors selected to compete for future Canes delivery orders are: BAE Systems of Rockville, Maryland, General Dynamics of Taunton, Massachusetts, and three Virginia-based companies — Global Technical Systems of Virginia Beach, Northrop Grumman of Herndon and Serco of Reston.

"Canes represents a critical component of the Navy’s modernization planning by upgrading cybersecurity, command and control, communications and intelligence systems afloat," Navy officials say, adding that the increased standardization will reduce the number of network variants by ship class across the fleet.

"The operating systems that exist today on some of those legacy networks are not sustainable," says Rear Adm. Christian Becker of the program executive office responsible for the program. "Canes allows us to deploy current operating systems and then upgrade or stay current with future changes to those operating systems in a more cost-effective and timely way."

Canes will make ship operations faster and more cost-effective and will help enhance the Navy’s "cybersecurity posture," Becker says.

Competition will be continuous for the procurement of firm-fixed-price production and training units. The build-to-print delivery approach will leverage the Canes design and integrated product baselines established during the engineering and manufacturing development phase," Navy officials say. "Lessons learned from the Canes operational testing continuum and initial platform installations will allow for evolution and update of the Canes production baseline."

For the next eight years, the Navy will leverage the best of industry and government expertise to meet the challenges of developing and delivering multiple Canes hardware and software baselines in the most affordable means available, the Navy says.

Canes Initial Operational Test and Evaluation began Aug. 11 aboard DDG 76 USS Higgins, which will support a full-deployment decision expected in the third quarter of fiscal 2015.

During the initial stages of the limited-deployment phase, Canes installations have been successfully completed on nine destroyers, the Navy notes. Installations continue on three carriers, one amphibious assault ship, eight destroyers, one landing dock ship and one cruiser. An additional 28 installations are planned throughout fiscal 2015 and 2016. Canes will ultimately be deployed to 180 ships, submarines and Maritime Operations Centers by 2022.

To date, the program’s system maturity is based on performance measures and test data from almost 12,000 hours of cumulative test time, the Navy says.