Flight information management initiative saves time, money

  • Published
Air Mobility Battlelab members successfully completed an initiative named the Comprehensive Combat Flight Information Management System at the Rockwell Collins International, Inc.'s aviation laboratory in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. 

The CCFIMS initiative combines commercial and government systems to prove industry can readily meet Air Mobility Command's needs. 

"The initiative aided Air Mobility Command headquarters in avoiding an estimated three years and $1.8 billion in early development costs," said Maj. Daniel Cozzi, the project officer for the initiative. 

The Air Mobility Battlelab, part of the Air Force Expeditionary Center here, partnered with Rockwell Collins International, Inc. and the Air Force Research Laboratory, located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, to demonstrate that current commercial and government systems could meet the needs of the Air Force. In April, battlelab members briefed the demonstration results of the September 2006 demonstration to AMC's leadership. 

The CCFIMS demonstration successfully displayed simulations of real-time aircraft position and encrypted threat and friendly force information in an aircrew friendly display. Aircrew members from Air Force operational units participated in the demonstration. 

"The concepts proven in the CCFIMS demonstration promise a significant increase in aircrew situational awareness ... and will improve integration between combat and mobility aircraft," said Lt. Col. James Stevenson of the 173rd Air Refueling Squadron from the Nebraska Air National Guard at Lincoln, Neb.

A CCFIMS type of system, which is usable on multiple aircraft and contains these capabilities, will further enhance a single mobility culture for AMC, Colonel Stevenson said. 

Capt. Ron Lecza from the 91st ARS at MacDill AFB, Fla., said he was impressed by what he called a demonstrated potential to "not only enhance safety of flight, but also lessen the dependency of AMC assets on airborne radar warning systems such as that provided by the E-3 Airborne Warning And Control System aircraft."

"Critical to successful military operations around the world, AMC's large and widely employed aircraft and their missions require secure contact with their command centers and other aircraft," Major Cozzi said. 

Currently, AMC's aircrews maintain this contact using a combination of encrypted radio transmissions using Cold War-era equipment combined with limited numbers of laptop computers communicating via temporarily installed satellite communications equipment. The limited bandwidth and transmission range in this combination of systems hampers information flow distracting aircrews from essential tasks during demanding combat missions. 

The Air Mobility Battlelab, in consultation with AMC, designed the CCFIMS initiative to see if currently-available commercial technology was ready to resolve this deficiency. 

"The demonstration's results informed AMC leaders and is accelerating the integration and fielding of military data links and airborne networking capabilities for AMC's mobility aircraft," said Col. Phil Bradley, the Air Mobility Battlelab commander. "The successful demonstration of the CCFIMS initiative met the Air Mobility Battlelab's mission to evaluate the military utility of today's technology providing solutions for the Air Force warfighter today." 

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