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This article was Originally Published on Dec 06, 2003 in Volume: 2  Issue: 5


The brightest star in the C2 constellation. MAT details the latest on this program with exclusive input from the E-10A program manager.

By Scott R. Gourley

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As these pages go to press, a trio of industry teams are furiously working to define the requirements for the Battle Management Command and Control (BMC2) component of the U.S. Air Force

E-10A Multi-sensor Command and Control Aircraft (MC2A) program. As a key element in the Air Force's Command and Control Constellation, the E-10A system will provide ground- and some airborne-moving target indication, as well as key battle management command and control that will fully connect an array of land-, platform- and space-based sensors that

will use common standards and communication protocols to relay information automatically in machine-to-machine interfaces. Putting it in simpler terms, program planners characterize the E-10A's capabilities and contributions to future warfighting scenarios as "eye watering."

According to Colonel Joseph Smyth, E-10A program manager at the Air Force Electronic Systems Center (ESC), Hanscom Air Force Base, MA, the program is built on a firm architectural foundation.

"As we're embarking on our modern upgrades and new systems in the command and control world, we're starting at an 'architecture-based' level," Smyth explained. "And our touchstone is the Air Force Command and Control Constellation Architecture - the C2C Architecture.

"I think E-10A is the first time that we've sat down between warfighters and acquirers to look at 'what are the systems that are going to be out there on the battlefield in the 2015 time frame and what functions should they be doing?' So, we know that we'll have the next generation of Distributed Common Ground Station; the evolution of our Air Ops Center; we'll have the E-10 out there; and we'll have legacy platforms out there like Rivet Joint, Joint STARS and AWACS. It's important to note that we really are doing business differently here with an architecture-based approach. And that pretty much is fundamental to how we are putting together the requirements for the E-10 and to make sure it's fully integrated with all the systems that we're developing here at ESC and at other places in the Air Force," Smyth said.

Cautioning that "[E-10A] will not be the AOC in the sky," Smyth elaborated, "We will not do any of the ATO [Air Tasking Order] planning onboard. We won't do any of the 'heavy lifting' associated with everything that an Air Ops Center does. Our job in life is to enable the 'Kick Down the Door' force to be able to monitor ATO executions and retarget rapidly based on the information that we can fuse together onboard the aircraft."

Smyth drew on personal service experience that includes more than 400 hours in Joint STARS when he added, "This is kind of the next generation forward from the lessons that we learned on JSTARS and the possibilities that real time surveillance and battle management can bring to the fight."

As an example, Smyth cited the Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP) radar that will be carried on the E-10A.

"It's a very large, very powerful, very capable radar that's really going to bring us a quantum leap in our ability to track both air targets as well as ground targets," he said. "You couple that with a state of the art communications system onboard the aircraft, wrap that around a routing network that can move data on and off to IP-enabled nodes, have the ability onboard the aircraft to take both onboard data from the RTIP radar and any other sensors that will eventually find their way onto the aircraft, as well as offboard systems like space-based radar, Global Hawk, Joint STARS and anybody else that can provide us a real time look at the battlespace. E-10A will bring that information together right there at 'the tip of the spear' and make possible those time-critical targeting decisions and striking within the single digit minutes that General Jumper has challenged us to go do."

Smyth noted that the need for these "tip of the spear" capabilities was reinforced by many of the lessons learned during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Emphasizing "the value in having flexible employment of the systems we have to date," Smyth offered the example that "Global Hawk was used very effectively in conjunction with JSTARS to be able to spot the Iraqi division that was coming out of Baghdad. And I don't think that they had a plan to work together like that in the past, but it was fortuitous, I think, that they were able to bring both systems to bear to do rapid target identification and defeat the enemy in what we thought was a blinding sandstorm.

"The other thing that I think JSTARS proved is that we needed a lot of them," he continued. "My understanding is that JSTARS had to cover three different orbits in the theater and they were tied to a pretty fluid battlefield where they were asked to do things that, quite frankly, they hadn't really done before. So again the flexibility and the need to have presence on the non-linear battlefield really does demand flexibility of our systems and the ability to rapidly integrate with the other systems on the battlefield to get that persistent surveillance and reconnaissance coverage that we'll need for future battlefields."

Multiple Contract Pathways

At the present time, the E-10A program is successfully progressing along four separate contract pathways: the MP-RTIP radar; a 767-400 aircraft test bed contract; a Weapon Systems Integration (WSI) contract; and the BMC2 contract.

Under a February 2003 modification to their existing contract efforts on the MP-RTIP radar, the team of Northrop Grumman and Raytheon focused on adapting their MP-RTIP airborne ground surveillance/cruise missile defense radar design to meet E-10A requirements (it will also be used on the Global Hawk).

The WSI contract was awarded to a three-company team of Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and Boeing in May 2003. Northrop Grumman serves as the prime contractor responsible for overall program management, system engineering, mission system design, system integration and flight test, and airframe modification. Raytheon's WSI responsibilities include radar and radome installation, the system's self-protection system, and support to system engineering, system integration, and cruise missile defense functionality testing. Boeing has responsibility for major structural modification design and kits, air vehicle analysis, performance assessments and airworthiness testing.

Under a third related contract awarded in mid-August, Boeing will also provide the 767-400ER (extended range) E-10A aircraft test bed.

"We're going into a period of definitization of the actual configuration of the aircraft and nail down the final price that we're going to pay over the next six months. But that is underway and we are moving forward on that," Smyth noted.

BMC2 Phase I

The most recent contract awards involved the Battle Management Command and Control system.

"We went through a source selection and I awarded three firm fixed-price contracts on the 12th of September to three very capable teams that will be competing over the next six months for the follow-on phase," Smyth said. "That final selection is looking pretty much like April now. Everything will culminate in our systems requirements review in the January time frame, when we'll get a look at their architectures and how well they're truly integrated with the weapon system. We'll ask for updated proposals, we'll go into source selection, and then we expect to make the decision in the April time frame.

"That's all right on track and we're very excited about the creative juices we've unlocked in industry," he added. "As we went into this and had done our market surveys we realized that there really was quite a broad base of expertise out there - particularly in the area of communications, battlespace representation, the ability to do tracking, and battle management command and control functions. And that [belief] has been vindicated with the responses we got from industry. We've got three strong teams: Boeing, a Lockheed Martin team, as well as a Northrop Grumman team."

The Boeing BMC2 team includes General Dynamics (sensor exploitation, information management and information assurance); BAE Systems Mission Solutions and Communications, Navigation and ISR Systems (combat operations management and planning, imagery mapping, and support management of network based communications); Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems (sensor control functions, with a particular emphasis on the MP-RTIP radar); Alphatech (tracking and fusion solutions and decision support tools along with target acquisition and recognition capability); Booz Allen Hamilton (modeling and simulation capability along with CAIV trade expertise) and CollaborX (support for Air Force and Joint CONOPS).

"The BMC2 subsystem will play a critical role in truly integrating battlespace joint operations and creating the required infrastructure to support time critical targeting," said Ron Prosser, vice president and general manager, Integrated Defense Advanced Systems-Phantom Works (IDeAS), the Boeing organization responsible for executing the initial phase of the program. Steve Behnen, the BMC2 program manager for Boeing, added "We look forward to working closely with the Air Force to develop a transformational capability that can be upgraded gracefully over time."

Lockheed Martin is leading another of the E-10A BMC2 Phase I teams. In addition to Lockheed Martin responsibilities for systems architecture, systems engineering and program management, team members (and responsibilities) include: Raytheon (communications, ISR and UAV control systems integration); SAIC (modeling and simulation); with additional "domain expertise" drawn from L-3 Communications (network-centric collaborative targeting systems engineering); Alphatech (radar exploitation support, and time critical targeting systems engineering); and Concurrent Technologies Corporation (visualization support).

"This is a very big, complex job," explained Mike Schoultz, Lockheed Martin vice president for the E-10A BMC2. "You can't really build a weapon system like the E-10A Battle Management Command and Control system without thinking about the constellation. It's not your standard development process because, if you look out a decade and say 'This is what I want you to build, go build it,' number one, we can't do that very well. We can't define what it is we're trying to accomplish at the end state. And number two, even if we could, by the time we got there things would have changed so much that it would already be outdated. So the development concept has really got to focus on building an architecture-centric design process that enables change to happen a lot more quickly and to accommodate things and to learn - both from a tactics process and procedure point of view as well as from a technology-insertion point of view - and make those changes a lot more easy so that development can continually evolve with tactics, process and procedures."

"We really think that the architecture-centric design process is critical," he added. "And I think that one of the aspects of this acquisition is really geared toward working a six month [BMC2] design phase that enables the customer - ultimately the United States Air Force but also the weapon system integrator - to examine in much more detail than just looking at a proposal to be able to make a selection of the best team. We really support the acquisition process. We think it's geared toward new ways of doing business and examining the process behind the new ways, focusing on an architecture-centric design process, as well as a spiral development process that enables change to take place, not only from a technology point of view but in bringing operators in - from a CONOPS-driven solution point of view that allows tactics, processes and procedures to change in context on technology change - and vice versa.

"So those two things are very, very key to us. And the third part that's important to us, that really supports the way this acquisition is being run, is that there's an awful lot of focus now on the battle management side. Battle management really means talking about command and control combined with ISR in ways that haven't been done before and in the constellation fashion - that you've really got to be able to optimize deployment of sensors to really do more real time things with command and control and ISR.

"So this E-10A platform is going to have a sensor [MP-RTIP] on it that's really going to be state of the art. And it will tie to other sensors in ways through this network centric connection that are really going to be a leap forward in the ways things are done - to be able to optimize employment of sensors and combining that information in ways, in near real time, to get an improved operational picture that's just going to enable a huge leap in terms of capabilities."

In terms of what their team "brings to the table," Justin Monger, deputy program manager for the Lockheed Martin team claimed "an unprecedented amount of ISR and command and control domain expertise, particularly in the U.S. Air Force arena. If you look at the portfolio that, between the major players on this team, we cover every element of the 'kill chain' and we cover and we touch just about every single node and sensor in the entire constellation. As a result of that, we can jump in and be productive very, very quickly."

As with Smyth, both Schoultz and Monger quickly pointed to synergies between E-10A architecture and lessons learned during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"Two things that came out loud and clear from Operation Iraqi Freedom were Blue Force tracking and joint service operations," Monger said. "Blue Force tracking to prevent fratricide - as everybody knows that's just a horror story of war. The emphasis on Blue Force tracking was always there but it's gone up a notch. And then it's also clear that there will be no more a single service battle spot. All these battles are fought jointly. So, if you can't operate in the joint arena, you're not a player. And all the major players on this team have the coalition - be it either NATO or within the U.S. - joint command and joint command and control and battle management experience within that coalition arena."

Referring to the ongoing Phase I process, Schoultz concluded, "This is all about refining the solution that we've given them on paper and working interactively with the Air Force and the WSI over six months to put a joint solution together. Because it's really got to be joint. And when we do a Systems Requirements Review we're going to update our design and we're going to present jointly to the United States Air Force a combined WSI/each competitor solution. The WSI is integral in this six month process that ultimately will be three SRRs and the Air Force, working in conjunction through advisors, the WSI, allow them to select the best solution and the best team."

The final BMC2 industry Phase I team is led by Northrop Grumman's Integrated Systems sector. In addition to Integrated Systems (overall program manager for the team, also providing systems engineering, modeling and simulation, ground-moving target indicator (GMTI) exploitation, precision aimpoint generation and mission applications), team members include Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems (data fusion and exploitation); Information Technology (airborne battle management, mission planning and computing infrastructure expertise); Mission Systems (communications and network engineering); and Space Technology (to help ensure that the team's BMC2 solution leverages the capabilities and advantages of space-based assets); as well as Harris Corp. Government Communications Systems Division (communications and imagery exploitation); General Dynamics Corp. Advanced Information Systems - formerly Veridian (security engineering, modeling and simulation and human factors engineering); Cisco Systems (mobile networking information processing solutions, commercial off-the-shelf hardware and expert in international computing standards); Oracle Corp. (database technology and expertise in managing critical information in a system-of-systems environment); Zel Technologies (experience in military C2, battle management and intelligence operations); Alphatech (software and algorithm development expertise in the key areas of weapons/target pairing, GMTI tracking/exploitation and multi-intelligence fusion); L-3 Communications West (multi platform common data link solutions); and L-3 Comcept (network-centric collaborative targeting).

"Northrop Grumman is committed to providing a BMC2 solution that integrates the most relevant domain knowledge and enabling technologies drawn from across our corporation and companies in the defense and commercial information technology industries," said Scott J. Seymour, Northrop Grumman corporate vice president and Integrated Systems sector president. "The members of this team have a proven track record of developing and delivering capabilities that span the spectrum of the military battle space and the commercial economy. To ensure that we capture this experience in the design of our BMC2 network, we've invested in a nationwide virtual battlefield environment that includes actual, realistic simulations of platform sensors, communications and battle management applications, plus a fully functional mockup of the E-10A's BMC2 subsystem. We're using this environment today to frame the network-centric concepts and systems that commanders on the E-10A will employ tomorrow."

Looking Toward the Future

Acknowledging that "any program has surprises," Smyth noted, "As we went through awarding the test bed contract, we spent a lot of time making sure that the terms and conditions were just right for what we needed to do for the test bed. So I guess I was a little surprised at how much effort it took to get that nailed down. But we think we've got some good terms and conditions to make sure that the test bed comes in the right configuration that we need and that it's ready to be modified by the weapons system integrator. From an acquisition perspective, I'm also pleasantly surprised that we were able to move out quickly once we got the approval from Office of Secretary of Defense to move forward with our acquisition strategy. As you may know, it was late in April that we got approval from Mr. Aldridge - at the time - to move forward with all four lanes of our acquisition. My team really stepped up to the challenge to get these contractual actions completed and on the books so that we can move out smartly. I'm pleasantly surprised that we were able to move forward quickly with that and that the team has risen to the challenges there."

Among near term program challenges, Smyth identifies the need to step through the upcoming BMC2 down-selection with "the goal to make this the toughest source selection that we've done so far in the Air Force - to help the teams be all they can be and in the end, choose the best blend of technical solution, past performance, and best value to the government. I think that's going to be our near term challenge. To conduct that and choose between three very strong candidates and move forward quickly."

Following next April's BMC2 down-selection, the program will face its Milestone B decision in late July.

"We have to make sure that we've got a good solid technical baseline to move forward with the follow on phase of the program. Our program office up until then will be concentrated on conducting our System Requirements Review in January, doing the down-select, and then preparing all the documents and all the information we need to get the go-ahead for our Milestone B," Smyth said.

In addition to programmatic challenges, upcoming E-10A technical hurdles will include the integration of a very large powered radar onboard an existing 767-400 aircraft and power budget tradeoffs between the radar and BMC2.

"The challenges there that I've given to the team are to ensure that we've got the strong system engineering processes in place up front and get a strong set of technical performance metrics this early on in the program to make sure that we keep our eye on all the technical aspects of the program," Smyth said.

"I've also issued the team a design to cost bogie such that they can inculcate that into their design activities as well," he added. "My aim is to bring an affordable program at our production milestone and the only way to do that is to have an early up front emphasis on cost from the start of the design period.

"I'm very excited about what we're getting ready to do here," he observed. "We've got a world class team assembled. I've been able to hand pick inside the government for folks that have been there and done that. I've got folks on my team who are experienced with the 767 Japanese AWACS - the conversion we did there - so they know about 767 airframes. I've also got a great partnership with the Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson. They're helping me out with the various air-worthiness aspects. And we partnered early with the FAA to make sure that we keep the airframe certified per FAA directives. We think that's going to pay major dividends downstream for the operations and maintenance costs for the aircraft. We're moving forward. We're on track, on schedule, on budget for the MP-RTIP radar. We finished our initial design review and we're right on track for our final design review for MP-RTIP. It will be happening next year.

"I think everything is in place to move forward successfully with this program and I think the capabilities that we'll bring to the warfighter are really going to be 'eye watering,'" Smyth concluded. "When you couple the next generation of high-powered radar with the modern communications systems, an emphasis on open systems architecture, and the new battle management tools that we're going to bring onboard, I think it really is going to be a revolutionary capability that we will bring to the table. And I think it is absolutely needed to face the future's threats. I think that flexibility is not only the key to air power, it is also the key in designing the next major weapon system. You have to build that flexibility in there for missions that you haven't even dreamed of as you're sitting at the birth of a program."

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