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‘Fierce’ Competition for New NATO Cyberwar Contract; US Firms Eye Foreign MKTs

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is collecting contract bids today from more than 300 companies across its 28 member nations to expand the alliance’s cybersecurity capabilities, the Wall Street Journal reported today.

The initial award is for $42 million, but Daniel Michaels cited industry officials as saying a contract win will be much more profitable as NATO will expand the system over many years and countries without cybersecurity strategies may view the program as a “shopping list” for cyber technology.

Currently, only the U.S., the U.K. and a few other countries have active cyber defense strategies. Future contracts and prestige are driving defense and information technology contractors to “fiercely” compete for the award, writes Michaels.

Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, IBM and Cisco Systems are all reported bidders. Chris Durbin, head of Northrop’s European cyber operations, told the paper Northrop hopes to win the contract to increase its share of the U.S. cybersecurity market and carve a greater foothold in the European cybersecurity market.

Northrop is pairing with Italy defense giant Finmeccanica on its bid.

NATO’s timeline indicates it plans to select a winner in early 2012 and have new systems full operational by the end of that year. Michaels’ defense contacts found that timeline to be “extremely ambitious.”

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