HomeNewsArticle Display

Warfighters reap benefits as critical upgrades continue

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. (AFNS) -- The AWACS 40/45 program office is delivering, and potentially accelerating, critical upgrades to the service's primary platform.

Replacing the mission computing system and software originally installed in the 1970s, the new capability will enhance tracking and combat identification capabilities in addition to providing operators with a better picture of the battlespace, said 1st Lt. Evan Porter, Block 40/45 production lead.

"The 40/45 capabilities put AWACS at the forefront, especially in theater," he said.

Following the delivery of six aircraft with the modifications to the 552nd Air Control Wing at Tinker AFB, Okla., the Air Combat Command commander declared initial operational capability in July. The program is now in full rate production with three additional aircraft in the modification process, one of which inducted early. The next aircraft is slated to begin modifications in December.

According to program officials, the team has worked aggressively to overcome multiple challenges to achieve these program successes and continues to look for ways to overcome additional challenges brought on by budget uncertainty.

"The Block 40/45 program office continues to execute the program successfully by continually assessing budget and aggressively pursuing innovative should-cost savings initiatives, using appropriate contracts to save additional cost and schedule," said Lt. Col. Frank Gaillard, the E-3 Net-centric Capabilities materiel leader and Block 40/45 program manager.

Another initiative implemented throughout the course of the program is kit installations during programmed depot maintenance.

Personnel from the 566th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Tinker said that installing the modification concurrently with PDM reduces up to eight months of aircraft downtime and allows for maximum aircraft availability.

The squadron was able to sequence their workload so all tasks could be performed on time.

"We started our first low-rate production concurrent PDM/mod at the depot in November 2010," said Jeff Base, the E3/Services Weapons System Support Center Flight chief. "Through process improvements and reducing the learning curve, the modification has realized a 48 percent reduction in hours."

Base also emphasized that advanced planning and stakeholder involvement were critical.

The upgrade provides multi-sensor integration onboard the aircraft, improves data link infrastructure, increases machine-to-machine interaction and compresses the targeting chain timeline.

Users are already seeing advantages.

"The 40/45 upgrade's human-machine interface allows a greater ability for the AWACS to concentrate on bringing order and command decisions to the battlespace," said Capt. James Capra, the 963rd Airborne Air Control Squadron director of operations. "With the upgraded ease of obtaining command and control data, the enhanced focus allows greater war management and will lead to ensuring the JFACC's (Joint Force Air Component Commander) risk level is assured during operations."

One user, a surveillance officer on the E-3, sees the advantage for her role.

"The software is more user-friendly than before and allows operators to focus on executing the mission," said Maj. Amy Chaplin, the 552nd Training Squadron assistant director of operations.

Many players have worked to get this program to this point. According to program officials here, it's been a total team effort.

The overall team included personnel from the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center 's AWACS Division at Hanscom AFB and Tinker AFB, the Air Logistics Center and the 566th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, as part of the Air Force Sustainment Center, both part of Air Force Materiel Command, and the 552nd Air Control Wing from ACC.

"This is truly fantastic collaboration across multiple commands, stakeholders and organizations," said Gaillard. "We are absolutely committed to upgrading the fleet for the warfighter, en route to achieving full operational capability."

FOC is anticipated by fiscal year 2020.

Engage

Facebook Twitter
RT @ActingSecAF: Fanstastic first day @salondubourget with iconic @NASA astronauts like @WordenAlfred & @AstroHague! And great discussion…
Herculean Heights: Resilient leader at Youngstown reaches 10,000 hrs milestone. @910AW @USAFReserve #USAFhttps://t.co/dNmxl0nrmu
.@124FighterWing #pilot executes an austere landing at the Freedom Landing Strip, #NationalTrainingCenterhttps://t.co/HQ6xjGohcs
#USAF BMT is changing this #summer! #Airmen will spend more time on weapons familiarization, along w/ additions of… https://t.co/wlHwtx7XWO
#USAF #Airmen continues the process of making his childhood dream of playing professional football come true. https://t.co/iAl70c8GXS
The opening of Cargo City successfully transitions operations from the #USAF & Coalition Abdullah Al-Mubarak Air Ba… https://t.co/K73PkhjpNY
RT @AirmanMagazine: It started as a dare between two pilots... The @usairforce Hurricane Hunters save lives by flying through hurricanes t…
RT @ActingSecAF: Thanks to this crew for making the right call and saving the life of a fellow service member. https://t.co/cP4KCIQFgD
The Space Test Program-2 will provide the #USAF with insight into the SpaceX booster recovery and refurbishing proc… https://t.co/qYhlj7Je9V
RT @ActingSecAF: Happy birthday @USArmy. 244 years of defending our nation. @SecArmy https://t.co/AfMoPxwbd8
RT @DeptofDefense: “They’re really noisy, but I love them.” This @USAirForce F-15 Eagle crew chief from the @142ndFW shares his motivation…
Today, America recognizes the birth of Old Glory with its own holiday. Flag Day was first celebrated in 1877 to mar… https://t.co/wqoEjdqQFy
#FollowFriday! @ActingSecAF Matthew Donovan is responsible for the affairs of the #USAF, including the organizing,… https://t.co/28IlKOKWMq
.@NellisAFB fixed wing aircrews are flight-testing new prototype helmets this summer, thanks in part to an accelera… https://t.co/4HSUGSk3Qg
The 2019 @warriorgames Opening Ceremony is set for 6/22 @AmalieArena w/@HunterHayes! Stay up to date with your… https://t.co/u34QuBnpdo
.@AETCommand's latest #podcast series dives into "Developing Mach-21 #Airmen," providing visibility on recruiting,… https://t.co/CGSHJonQAT
RT @ActingSecAF: Thanks to the support of Congress, the @usairforce is developing game changing technology. #fasterandsmarter https://t.co/…