News from Washington

International Avionics Standards Proposed at NATO Meeting

Eleven Partnership-for-Peace (PFP) nations were briefed on international approach and landing standards proposed by the US at a recent Air Group V North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) conference in Brussels, Belgium. The conference was chaired by the US Air Force Electronic Systems Center (ESC), and was convened to receive recommendations for a NATO standardization of approach and landing systems and to set a timetable for international acceptance of the standards. A Russian briefing on the GLONASS satellite navigation system was also featured.

Being evaluated as potential replacements for the precision approach radar that, with controller-to-cockpit voice communications, is in use presently by NATO member nations are the instrument landing system (the current worldwide commercial standard), the microwave landing system and the differential global navigational satellite system (Global Positioning System). The US-developed multimode receiver, which combines all three systems into one unit, is also being evaluated.

Financial difficulties in most of the PFP countries will make it difficult to install systems equal to western standards for several years. The standards being developed currently are for future use in these countries. Current plans are for the formal adoption of avionics standards by NATO member nations by the end of this year and complete installation of an internationally approved system by 2010.

Navy Demonstrates HARM Range-known Onboard Targeting System

A recent exercise at the Naval Air Warfare Center, China Lake, CA, successfully demonstrated the Lockheed Martin Aeronutronic division precision radar frequency targeting system's ability to work with the AGM-88 HARM missile on a Navy F/A-18 aircraft. The targeting avionics system (TAS) pylon-mounted sensor cued the HARM missile in its range-known mode during a live firing. With real-time cueing information including passive range from the sensor, the HARM missile was launched from behind a mountain range, traveled to the TAS-indicated location and made a lethal pass against the emitter.

The sensor mounts within an aircraft pylon and can point to ground-based or airborne radar emitters beyond radar-warning receiver ranges. In the proposed F/A-18 tactical configuration, two TAS sensors would provide a 240° field of view and supply both azimuth and elevation data. The configuration would also include aft-looking antennas for 360° of total azimuth coverage. The TAS was selected for fleet evaluation in 1997 under a Navy initiative to evaluate mature research and development technologies in operational fleet environments.

Hughes Forms New Division

Hughes Aircraft Co. has announced an internal reorganization. Effective January 1, the Radar and Communications Systems Segment and the Electro-Optical Systems Segment, both of El Segundo, CA, have merged to form the Sensors and Communications Systems Segment. Kenneth C. Dahlberg, currently president of the Radar and Communications Systems Segment, has been named president of the new organization.

Lockheed and Loral Consolidation Closes Eight Facilities

Lockheed Martin has announced additional actions to complete the consolidation of Lockheed Martin businesses with the defense electronics and systems integration businesses of Loral. The moves will result in the closing of eight facilities and a net reduction 1600 positions.

The consolidations are expected to be completed in 1998 and lead to an annual savings of $300 M by 1999. Closings include the C3I & Systems Integration Sector headquarters in New York City; the Tactical Defense Systems facilities in Great Neck, NY and Bloomfield, NJ; the Librascope facility in Glendale, CA; the Lockheed Martin Aeronutronic facility in Ranch Santa Margarita, CA; the Electronics Defense Systems facility in the Bronx, NY; a Paoli, PA site; and an electronics assembly operation in Goodyear, AZ.

DISN Still Needs Requirements
and Cost Definition

As reported last year, the General Accounting Office (GAO) found serious deficiencies in the definition of minimal acceptable performance requirements and the estimates of acquisition, operating and maintenance costs of the Defense Information Systems Network (DISN) being created. A November 1996 GAO report found that recommendations of its earlier report for the establishment of requirements and cost estimates have not yet been fully implemented even though the Department of Defense (DoD) concurred with those recommendations.

The present DISN plan leaves responsibility for local bases and installations to acquire their own telecommunications services and deployed communications networks. The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is responsible for acquiring the long-haul services that will interconnect the base-level and deployed networks within and between the continental US (CONUS), Europe and the Pacific.

The DISA's current efforts focus on acquiring and implementing DISA CONUS services. For 10 years, defense users have received switched voice, data, video teleconferencing and transmission services within the US through the defense commercial telecommunications network contract with AT&T, which expired in February 1996. A follow-on, sole-source DISN transition contract (DTC) with AT&T continues to provide these services until the DISN is implemented fully. DTC costs are estimated to be $18.5 M per month.

Without any validated statement of the DISN's operational requirements or cost estimates, the DISA has issued four requests for proposals driven by its desire to limit the term of the sole-source DTC. Two proposals have led to contract awards supporting the DISN's implementation. The first contract, which calls for the DISN support services-global to provide engineering, operations, network management and other support worldwide, was awarded to Boeing Information Services in June 1996. The second contract for providing DISN switched/bandwidth manager services-CONUS was awarded to MCI Corp. in August 1996. These contract awards were made based on cost, technical, management and past performance, and an award for DISN video services-global is expected to be made on the same basis. A contract related to the last request for DISN transmission services-CONUS, essentially a commodity service, is expected to be made to the lowest bidder. Full implementation of the DISN CONUS system is forecast for July.

While the DISA is planning to implement DISN CONUS within eight months of its report, the GAO is concerned that the absence of operational and cost objectives will prevent the DISA from effectively managing the DISN's implementation and operation. The GAO strongly advises that the DoD establish the objective measures needed to measure the DISN's success.

Air Force and Utah State to Develop
Laser Telemetry System

The Air Force's Phillips Laboratory and Utah State University are jointly developing a lightweight, inexpensive satellite laser communications system under an educational partnership agreement. Sharing laboratory equipment and researchers, Phillips and Utah State will build and test a low power laser telemetry system that will enable satellite sensors to transmit data to ground terminals for processing. The technique eliminates the need for a large onboard transmitter and permits the use of smaller satellites with smaller power supplies. Potential uses for the system include finding downed pilots with satellites.