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The Battlefield Exploitation and Target Acquisition (BETA) project was initiated in September 1977 as a joint service experiment to develop a test bed for automated collection, analysis, correlation, and dissemination of tactical intelligence data. The BETA test bed includes ground stations which receive sensor messages, correlation centers that automatically process the sensor data, operator terminals for displaying correlation center output, and communications equipment to route sensor messages and distribute reports.
The experiment was estimated to cost $98 million through completion in fiscal year 1984. However, in June 1980 congressional committees redirected the project after learning of BETA's development schedule slippage, inordinate cost increases, reduced capabilities, and poor performance during testing.
The committees asked that current project funding be used to complete software development and to correct test bed deficiencies. Instead of continuing with a technology demonstration project, the Secretary of Defense was to provide the Congress with an acquisition plan by September 30, 1980, for joint service development and acquisition of a fielded system. This system was to build on BETA software already developed and make maximum use of common hardware.