ABMS moves ahead with second round of contract awards

  • Published
  • By Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs
The Department of the Air Force has chosen 18 additional companies to compete for tasks to develop, demonstrate, test and integrate elements of the Advanced Battle Management System, or ABMS. This follows the selection of 28 companies less than a month ago.
The goal of ABMS is to enable the Air Force and Space Force to operate together and as part of a joint team – connecting sensors, decision makers and weapons through a secure data network enabling rapid decision making and all-domain command and control. The innovative acquisition strategy required by ABMS reflects the rapid pace of technological change – gains being exploited by potential military adversaries.
“Just like the Internet of Things, our Air and Space Force platforms will only be as effective as the data they can access, machine-to-machine,” said Dr. Will Roper, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. “ABMS will help create internet-like data sharing across our joint force to fight at internet speeds. Rapid development and testing cycles are critical to fail, learn, and leap ahead of advancing threats.”
The contracting vehicle being used is Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity, or IDIQ, contract, which provides each vendor the opportunity to receive anywhere from $1,000 to $950 million in total over the next five years for work in up to seven different ABMS categories. Tasks will be awarded on an agile basis throughout the year. Despite the contract ceiling, spending is ultimately limited by the funding appropriated in the president’s budget, not on the cumulative ceiling of a contract. In the FY21 PB, the Air Force requested $3.3 billion for ABMS over five years. 
The goal of this strategy is to spur competition, learn what technological approaches work and don’t work, reduce risk, and streamline the contracting process to weeks instead of months, so we can develop and deliver ABMS capability alongside operators throughout the year.  
“To field a complex set of capabilities at digital speeds requires a different, more innovative acquisition strategy,” Roper said. “With ABMS, we are adopting best practices from the private sector to get capabilities into the hands of the warfighter years ahead of traditional approaches.” 
A year ago, the Department of the Air Force evolved the ABMS acquisition strategy and established the Chief Architect Office to lead the effort. In December 2019 a major “on-ramp” exercise involving all military services in support of the U.S. Northern Command was executed. During this on-ramp, new commercial low earth orbiting satellites were integrated for high bandwidth communications and an F-22 Raptor and multi-Service F-35 Lightning II aircraft shared data via a secure gateway relevant to a denied operating environment. The next on-ramp, scheduled for the end of August (after being postponed by the COVID-19 outbreak), will respond to a simulated attack on U.S. space assets and involve three combatant commands: U.S. Space Command, U.S. Northern Command, and U.S. Strategic Command. Another ABMS on-ramp scheduled for September will support U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and U.S. Space Command, connecting sensors and shooters in a geographic operational theater outside the U.S. for the first time.
The ABMS development team will write fair opportunity requests within each product category so companies can compete for a contract to mature ABMS technologies and evaluate those technologies and vendors during these on-ramps. Validated ABMS capabilities demonstrated during on-ramps are then integrated into ongoing battle network plans and leveraged to address operational needs today. 
 “Agile operations require agile technology. Agile technology requires agile acquisition. Agile acquisition requires agile contracting,” said Preston Dunlap, Department of the Air Force chief architect. “It’s common sense. We just don’t always do this in government. But if we want to compete and win in the modern era, it’s not just common sense, it’s a national security imperative.”
The companies added to the ID/IQ in this round are: Accenture Federal Services LLC; Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp; Black River Systems; Booz Allen Hamilton Inc; CAE USA Mission Solutions, Inc; CUBIC (GATR Technologies, Inc); Global Air Logistics and Training Inc; Leidos, Inc; Mercury Defense Systems, Inc; Metron, Inc; NetScoutsystems Inc; Octo Consulting Group, Inc; Omni Fed LLC; Rincon Research Corporation; Rise8, Inc; Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC); Strategic Mission Elements Inc; Wind River Systems Inc. 
To learn more, visit http://jadc2abms.com.