Experiment delivers battlespace awareness|
by Airman 1st Class Ross Tweten
Joint Expeditionary Force Experiment Public Affairs
4/24/2006 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. (AFPN) -- The Combined Air and Space Operations Center, or CAOC, houses the systems that provide the U.S. and its allies with critical warfighting information.
Air Force Materiel Command's Electronic Systems Center, at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., delivers and manages those systems inside the CAOC, thus providing warfighters with integrated full spectrum command and control awareness.
As the lead systems engineer function for the Joint Expeditionary Force Experiment 2006, ESC’s responsibility is to design, build and test the CAOC environment of the near future and to test out system performance and interoperability prior to fielding.
The CAOC is the experiment’s environment, designed to execute the air and space component of a war, combining operators and systems from all different air assets and coalition forces to make one integrated system.
“We’re responsible for all the systems in the JEFX enterprise which extends to 50 sites across the continental United States,” said Lt. Col. Martin Kendrick, JEFX systems program manager. “Working with all the different program offices who own the systems, we’re responsible for the integration of the systems into the CAOC during JEFX.”
However, ESC doesn’t design or manufacture equipment; civilian contractors do that. In its systems acquisition mission, ESC serves as the systems manager by determining the warfighter’s needs, defining systems to best meet those needs, asking for proposals from industry, selecting contractors and monitoring their progress.
Teams of professionals specializing in engineering science, business management, acquisition and computers supervise the design, development, testing, production and deployment of the command and control systems.
According to Col. David Madden, 753rd Electronic Systems Group commander, JEFX is one of the most important activities ESC participates in.
“JEFX is one of the only proving grounds that we have where we bring all the systems in the command and control enterprise together to try to figure out how to make them interoperate together,” he said. “Without JEFX we wouldn’t have a way to integrate and check out new capabilities across the enterprise to determine their value to the operator before fielding.
“The warfighter would never have an opportunity to assess the value of these new capabilities and provide feedback on how to make them better," Colonel Madden said. "Otherwise, what you’d have is a bunch of bright ideas that all sound and look great but they may not be effective. JEFX is ultimately the only venue we have to effectively inject initiatives directly into the warfighter’s operations and say, ‘Did this system really help you?’”
According to Carmen Corsetti, JEFX chief engineer, the JEFX process generated the CAOC weapons systems fielding process. As the experiment has progressed, ESC’s operation tempo has increased exponentially.
“I think the intensity builds with each spiral,” Mr. Corsetti said. “The intensity grows as more functions and test objectives are added while we’re trying to enhance system performance to meet the operational objectives. So we have to stay on top of everything from start to finish everyday of every spiral.
“We have several new systems we’re integrating to meet the objectives of the experiment,” Mr. Corsetti said. “So it’s not just one new piece of equipment, it's several new pieces of hardware, software and capability. As we’ve grown with the spirals, we’ve continued to enhance and provide more capability, but with more capability comes more potential for issues to arise. Basically, the intensity keeps growing as we keep adding more functionality.”
An important aspect JEFX provides is teams from several different agencies working together toward a common goal, Colonel Madden said.
“Our common goal here at JEFX is to transition new capabilities to the warfighter,” the colonel said. “That’s the end game and JEFX is a great way to get these new systems delivered faster to the warfighters so they can execute more rapid and dynamic operations.”
ESC’s responsibilities don’t end with JEFX. ESC staff members build the core systems for CAOCs that warfighters are operating around the world today.
The center manages more than 150 programs, ranging from secure communication systems to mission planning systems. Two of ESC’s best known programs are the airborne warning and control system, or AWACS, and the joint surveillance target attack radar system, known as JSTARS.
The AWACS saucer-shaped radar simultaneously tracks up to 300 airborne and ocean-going targets up to 250 miles away. The JSTARS, using a modified Boeing 707 with a canoe-shaped radar mounted under the forward fuselage, provides real-time data on ground targets to Army and Air Force commanders.
JEFX is a series of experiments that combine live-fly, live-play ground and naval forces, simulation and technology insertions into a warfighting environment.
This year JEFX is assessing eight new initiatives in technology -- processes designed to increase command and control capability, enhance predictive battlespace awareness, and decrease the time it takes to find, fix, target, track, engage and assess a given target.
JEFX involves all services, plus coalition, joint and other Department of Defense agencies from bases across the United States, England, Australia and Canada. Airmen, Sailors and Soldiers are all participating in the exercise for the main experiment. There are 35 allied participants occupying operator positions throughout the CAOC.
The JEFX ’06 main experiment is scheduled to end April 28.