ABMS grows: Air Force focuses on delivery of “Breaking Defense” kit
WASHINGTON: The Air Force has revised the Advanced Battle Management System program to better integrate it into the service’s traditional acquisition structure – and will deploy the first ABMS equipment next year.
The changes were made to move the program away from its past focus of experimentation and rapid technological development to a more traditional focus on commissioning operational capabilities, an Air Force official said.
The first ABMS capabilities ‘package’ to go live will be a new pod-based communication system for the KC-46, allowing the tanker to serve as a sort of flying cell tower between incompatible F-22 radio systems. and F -35 fighters. This system will go live in the last quarter of fiscal 2022, according to an email from a spokesperson for the service.
The email was in response to questions posed to the service almost two months ago, which we finally received on Friday – at the same time as the Air Force press release officially marking the ABMS “transition” to a full-fledged acquisition program.
In addition, the service has also created a new cross functional team (CFT), led by Brig. General Jeffery Valenzia to establish ABMS “manpower, resources and doctrinal infrastructure,” the press release said. Valenzia, an Air Force official told us, sits on the service’s J5 plans and program staff and served on the Joint Chiefs of Staff CFT for command and control strategy development. joint forces of all areas (JADC2). ABMS is designed by the service to serve as C2 support for JADC2 – the new strategy is expected to be released by DoD by the end of next month.
The Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO), which was tasked last year with taking ABMS as its registration program, also dropped the Silicon Valley build and naming convention instituted by the former official. the acquisition of Will Roper services. So more “on the ramp” demos, more “products”, more cool new software / gadgets with the suffix “ONE”.
“ABMS has moved away from identifying capabilities by their old ‘UN’ product names,” the Air Force spokesman wrote. Instead, RCO “will build ABMS as a secure military digital network environment by leveraging proven technologies, infrastructure and business applications. The ABMS acquisition effort provides the hardware capabilities to enable ABMS operational concepts. “
Future RCO Capabilities Release packages will also not necessarily map the list of “products” – such as cloudONE or gatewayONE – that the Air Force has previously identified as part of ABMS.
“ABMS acquisition efforts will focus on investing in a sustainable digital infrastructure and delivering Capability Releases (CRs) – individual pieces or parts of the larger system being brought into service in discrete iterations. which will not always align with the construction of the previous ‘product line’, ”the spokesperson said.
For now, the planned KC-46 pod is the only “Capabilities Release” package that has been “established,” the spokesperson added. Each package will require the joint approval of Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown and Chief of Space Operations Gen. Jay Raymond, the spokesperson said.
But RCO has developed a capability matrix that it intends to deliver as part of ABMS, the spokesperson wrote:
- Secure Processing: Provide commercial multi-cloud and hybrid edge environments and edge devices for secure processing, data management, and applications at all levels of security.
- Connectivity: Provide agile communications, connectivity and a mesh network between sensors, decision nodes and mission effects to support mission execution, even under degraded conditions.
- Data management: Provide a data architecture over the network for data from all domains and multiple types of sensors with multiple security levels so that static and streaming data is properly characterized, available and detectable.
- Applications: Provide applications, leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning, to enable data processing, data fusion, operation images of all areas and machine command and control. machine.
- Sensor integration: Integrate sensors into a network to enable the publication of real-time and static data for joint missions in all areas.
- Effects Integration: Integrate kinetic and non-kinetic effects using machine-to-machine command and control.
The spokesperson for the service explained that RCO will use “a range” of contract types, “adapted to the capacity provided”. These include “Multiple Award ID / IQ, Broad Agency Announcements (BAA), Other Transactions, Small Business Innovative Research (SIBR) Phase III, existing contracts, and Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADA),” the email said.
Meanwhile, Preston Dunlap’s office of chief architects will continue to undertake ABMS-related experiments – now referred to as “Architecture Demonstration and Assessment (ADE) events,” according to the spokesperson. The Dunlap office and RCO “will coordinate to ensure unity of effort and work to integrate the inclusion of ABMS capabilities into future DAF architecture demonstration and evaluation events,” the spokesperson wrote. .
Whether these protests continue into their first four-month cycle, however, is open. Due to the huge chop Congress took from the ABMS budget request for 2021, the Air Force was only able to undertake two of the three planned protests.
RCO also had to push back the actual investment in this year’s new KC-46 communications module to FY2022.
The service received $ 170 million for ABMS during this fiscal year and intends to continue to dedicate improvements over the next five years.