Barksdale AFB first to implement upgrade to nuclear enterprise 'in more than 30 years'

  • Published
  • By Keefer Patterson
  • 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

Air Force Global Strike Command is modernizing older infrastructure by implementing the largest upgrade to its Nuclear Command, Control and Communication systems in more than 30 years. 

In January, Barksdale Air Force Base became the first of two AFGSC bases to receive and implement the Global Aircrew Strategic Network Terminal — a new, innovative NC3 system that provides assured, survivable, fixed and transportable communications to wing command posts, munitions support squadrons and mobile support teams. Global ASNT provides the nuclear enterprise a new two-way reliable, redundant and robust communication path capable of connecting forces anytime, anywhere — allowing AFGSC greater agility and lethality than ever before. 

“This system streamlines our NC3 capabilities and allows our team to deliver winning combat power,” said Senior Master Sgt. Katrina Strother, 2nd Bomb Wing Command Post senior enlisted leader. “It virtually provides commanders a standardized ‘command post in a box,’ replacing a single use system with a multi-use communication package that can talk on a multitude of networks and provides a modular design for future upgrades as opposed to costly replacements. Additionally, Global ASNT is survivable in Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High Yield Explosives; and High-altitude Electromagnetic Pulse environments — allowing operators the ability to work through a conflict without fail.” 

Upgrading NC3 

NC3 refers to an integrated weapons system comprised of facilities, equipment, communications, procedures and personnel. Ultimately, NC3 is what the National Military Command System uses to exercise and conduct continuous, survivable and secure Nuclear Command and Control. 

Given the demands of a new era of command and control technology and processes, Global ASNT provides a new wave of capabilities to meet those modern demands head on. 

“Global ASNT is a transformational new system that replaces Cold War era communications equipment with the intent of enhancing the warfighters capability as we transition to the command post of the future,” said Capt. Tony Scott, AFGSC Command Post NC3 ground requirements manager. 

The acquisition of Global ASNT brings to bear years of research, planning and development. 

“This acquisition is comparable to rolling out the new KC-46 or B-21 Raider,” said Chief Master Sgt. O’Shea Rhodes, AFGSC Command and Control Operations functional manager. “Similar to the KC-46 or B-21, this new weapons system increases force lethality and nuclear command and control capabilities. The idea is that all these acquisitions are designed to be interoperable—an important feat given the demands of today’s strategic environment.” 

The new system, with acquisition costs in development and procurement ranging nearly $1.3 billion, will roll out across active duty, Guard and Reserve units in phased increments. The first phase consists of development, upgrading and installation; and the second phase consists of implementation. Specifically, the system implementation includes terminal replacement and providing communications for aircrew alert. 

Total costs also factor in an estimated $82 million in enterprise-wide facility preparations, to include facility power modifications and upgrades to heating, ventilation and air conditioning units. However, Global ASNT transcends beyond the AFGSC mission and is forecasted for installation at 43 locations, across seven commands, in seven countries, on three continents, to include four major commands and the U.S. Space Force. 

The introduction of Global ASNT is a high priority for the NC3 community. Directly getting after Department of Defense priorities with the aim of building a more lethal force and modernizing and recapitalizing NC3, the new terminal will equip forces with the needed tools to address future challenges in an era of strategic competition. 

“This is a huge victory for the Department of the Air Force and AFGSC as we continue to modernize key NC3 systems critical to the successful management of the nuclear force at the tactical level,” Scott said.