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Paul Revere takes flight during JEFX

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. (AFPN) -- Paul Revere is no longer a lone rider on horse. Here it is the name given to a task force of Air Force, Department of Defense workers and government contractors flying in a contracted government Boeing 707, allowing warfighters to experiment with and test the latest communication technology.

Time is the critical element in most of the Joint Expeditionary Force Experiment 2004 initiatives and the task force is helping things move swiftly.

Task Force Paul Revere, an airborne battle management command, control and communications application, helps makes testing machine-to-machine capabilities and global communication experiments possible by sending and receiving data between other airborne and space sensors and the Combined Air and Space Operations Center. This capability could allow United States and coalition warfighters from all services to simultaneously communicate from around the globe.

“The idea is to pipe information down from an aircraft at a global level,” said Lt. Col. Rick Painter, Task Force Paul Revere operations leader. “We can pipe some information down now, but not at the level we would like to be capable of.”

Currently, aircraft such as the Rivet Joint, Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, U-2 or Airborne Warning and Control System take in information that is saved on disks, analyzed and manually sent to warfighters and planners. Today’s output bandwidth from these aircraft is limited. Task Force Paul Revere experiments with the capability of taking in information from ground, space and air assets and simultaneously and instantly sending the information back out on a global network that includes the CAOC.

“For the long term, we’re accelerating delivery of the airborne network as part of the C2 constellation network. We believe there are some immediate benefits to today’s ISR and communication platforms that we’re able to transition to rapidly,” Colonel Painter said. “That’s what JEFX is for. You have to do something to see if an idea is possible.”

Colonel Painter said seeing an idea at work is similar to buying a car; you can not just rely on the brochure, you need to drive the car.

“When you go to the car dealer, you roll down the windows, put the pedal to the floor, move the seats and mirrors around,” he said. “We are never going to get to Star Trek or Star Wars without moving beyond PowerPoint presentations.”

During JEFX, Task Force Paul Revere is connecting information to Washington and routing it back through the base here. Colonel Painter said the Paul Revere application is not in competition with any other aircraft. It is a testbed aircraft used to benchmark capability for transition to the ISR fleet.

“In fact, it was suggested Task Force Paul Revere look at AWACS and JSTARS top issues and work them,” Colonel Painter said.

The Boeing 707 being used, formerly a commercial airliner, was pulled out of the aircraft bone yard in the 1980s and turned into a flying laboratory in 2001 by workers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory. It is being used to test and experiment with airborne battle management, command, control and communication technology and concepts. Though the plane is maintained and flown by lab workers, the aircraft and everything on it belongs to the U.S. government.

“It’s part of a contract we have,” said Dr. Joe Chapa, associate group leader at the lab. “Everything bought or developed for this aircraft belongs to the government. Our main mission is to be a learning organization and then transition the lessons learned to the government.”

The Paul Revere is just one application of the aircraft. Many initiatives are being, and have been, tested aboard the 707 with the help of Task Force Paul Revere.

“We like to think of this flying laboratory as a Mr. Potato Head,” Dr. Chapa said. “We can put a different nose or a different eye on.”

Dr. Chapa said the airborne laboratory was first requested by the Air Force chief of staff and secretary of the Air Force for use on airborne battle management and command and control for time-critical targeting during JEFX 02. In 2002, a single data link was used and found to be inadequate. This year the laboratory is back to test multiple data links to help the air and ground forces see and communicate with each other reliably.

“We have a lot of academic freedom,” Dr. Chapa said. “This is advanced research and we won’t work on something that has already been done.”

Though the aircraft and the concept of high bandwidth of aircraft information output is the same as it was in JEFX 02, some of the applications are different for JEFX 04 initiatives.

Task Force Paul Revere is a team made up of electronic specialists from the Electronic System Center at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., aircraft maintainers and operators from MIT’s Lincoln Lab, and operations experts from the Air Force Command and Control ISR Center, Air Combat Command and Air Force Space Command.

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