News From Washington
New Air Force Organization to Improve Command and Control System Interoperability
The Air Force Electronic Systems Center’s newest program office, Defense Information Infrastructure – Air Force (DII – Air Force), was established recently to create a common infrastructure around which individual command and control systems will be designed. The program office also aims to reduce the problems inherent in any effort to adapt existing command and control systems, each designed for a specific purpose, to serve other pressing applications. The individual design features of the various pieces of equipment lead to unacceptable time and effort levels to adapt them to other applications when contingencies arise. DII – Air Force is responsible for delivering the new common infrastructure and organizing acquisitions around that infrastructure to serve varying and changing needs.
Programs using the new infrastructure will be able to communicate and exchange information with anyone else on the system. While the so-called original common operation environment did not have the capability to handle real-time aircraft tracks detected by the E-3 AWACS radar, DII – Air Force arranged for interested program offices to meet and discuss a common set of requirements. The new environment provides a Windows™-like capability on a PC, including the operational community’s equivalent of Word and Power Point.
SLAM ER Completes Third Mission Successfully
The US Navy’s next-generation cruise missile, the standoff land attack missile expanded response (SLAM ER), recently completed its third and most complex mission successfully. The flight test, conducted at the Pacific Missile Test Range in southern California, demonstrated the missile’s range capability for low altitude flight and data link control. Launched from an F/A-18C Hornet, the missile navigated autonomously over 75 nautical miles through a series of complex maneuvers. From a safe standoff distance, a second F/A-18C identified the target and locked the SLAM ER onto the predetermined aimpoint during the terminal segment of the flight and a direct hit was scored on the target.
The test demonstrated the implementation of the man-in-loop control feature of the system. This feature employs a data link in the missile to transmit an image of the target to the controlling aircraft, where the pilot can use the stop-motion aimpoint update capability to freeze the target scene video on a display. The pilot then designates an aimpoint and commands the missile to attack that point. This guidance mode is effective even when the target is without a distinguishing infrared signature. A positive target identification capability decreases collateral damage and allows a secondary aimpoint to be selected in the event the original target has already been destroyed. Testing on the system is scheduled to be completed later this year.
DARPA Enhanced Communications System Contract Awarded
Torrey Science Corp. has received an award from the US Army Communications and Electronics Command for the development and demonstration of advance technologies to be used in next-generation military combat radios. The contract is sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and is valued at $2.5 M. The initial award is $500 K.
Terms of the contract call for the production of a new enhanced multiple path beyond line-of-sight digital radio capable of communications up to 400 miles using terrestrial, airborne or satellite-based repeaters. The frequency-hopping radio is able to operate in severe interference and difficult urban, mountain and forest environments. Data rates up to 28.8 kbps will be available along with an integral Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver that determines the operator’s position.
The effort leverages technologies developed for cellular and personal communications systems and low cost, high volume manufacturing methods. The company reports that the system meets the military’s faster, cheaper, better criteria and expects that the radio will also find commercial use in law enforcement, search and rescue, and other mobile applications.
Apache Longbow Radar Multiyear Commitment Delayed
According to a report from the General Accounting Office (GAO), "Apache Longbow Helicopter Fire Control Radar Not Ready for Multiyear Procurement," the GAO believes that the current redesign of the radar’s transmitter makes the system unsuitable for a long-term production commitment. The Apache Longbow is intended to conduct precision attacks in adverse weather conditions, engage multiple targets automatically, provide a fire-and-forget capability and operate on the digital battlefield of the future. The Longbow radar provides these missions with the means to detect, classify and prioritize targets. The first radar contract for 10 units was awarded in March 1996 and a second for 11 sets was awarded in January 1997. A multiyear award was planned for December 1997.
The report points out that the original transmitter had development problems and did not complete qualification tests. Since parts are not available for a full production run of the original design, a redesign is underway. However, the new transmitter will not complete qualification tests until December, more than three years after full-rate production of the radar was authorized and well beyond the planned award date of the multiyear contract. Consistent with Department of Defense regulations, the GAO recommends that the multiyear award for Longbow radar production be delayed until the system completes qualification testing successfully with its redesigned transmitter.
World ATC Equipment Market Evaluated
In its recent report, "The Growing Importance of the World Air Traffic Control (ATC) Equipment Market," Frost & Sullivan provides an overview of the worldwide changes underway in ATC equipment acquisition and design, and projects overall market growth and the relative markets for major system components. The worldwide approach to the ATC infrastructure is undergoing radical change. Existing ATC equipment is being incorporated into the communications, navigation, surveillance/air traffic management (CNS/ATM) system environment and equipment is being purchased following systematic considerations rather than as individual pieces. CNS/ATM also has increased the use of satellites and high speed computing power. The changes are increasing the airspace capabilities of developed areas and the service within the 60 percent of the world’s airspace that is outside of radar coverage.
The report covers four equipment market segments. The communications systems segment includes the subcategories radios, voice switches, and voice logging and recording equipment. The ground-based navigational aid segment discusses GPS equipment, the global navigation satellite system, omnidirectional radio range and distance-measuring VHF equipment. The surveillance equipment section includes primary, secondary and approach control radars and automatic dependent surveillance systems. Finally, the ATM product section deals with ATC, ATM and flight data planning systems.
The report lists companies in the ATC equipment market and identifies their product offerings. It forecasts total ATC market revenue growth at a compound annual growth rate of 5.6 percent, leading to a market of $4.91 B in 2003. Finally, a table provides annual forecasts of the portions of the market that will be accounted for by communications, navigation, surveillance and ATM equipment. For additional information, contact Kimberly Barney at Frost & Sullivan (415) 961-9000, fax (415) 961-5042.