Today at 8:12 PM
now noticed in USNI News:
"... Laser Weapon System (LaWS) ...
The system will not be transferred to Puller.
“While LaWS on Ponce provided the Navy some initial learning in an operational environment, including how to maintain such a system in the stressing maritime environment, there are no plans to incorporate LaWS on Lewis B. Puller at this time. The Navy will continue to explore options for incorporating directed energy (DE) weapons aboard Navy assets,” the service said in a statement last month."
USS Ponce Returns From Final Deployment Ahead of Decommissioning
sounded like an ad to meReal-world lessons from a leader of the three-year effort to convert DCGS to open architecture.
Three years ago, the U.S. Air Force decided to overhaul its main intelligence-data network — the
As chief of mission applications and infrastructure at the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Information Directorate, I helped lead the effort to overhaul DCGS, along with co-leaders at Air Combat Command and the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center. Here’s what it took, and how other military programs might be able to follow our example.
DCGS, also known as the AN/GSQ-272 SENTINEL System, is used by airmen to produce, process, and disseminate intelligence from data collected through a wide range of ISR platforms. But for all its power, the system was unacceptably hard to upgrade. Its infrastructure was constructed to satisfy single-mission capabilities only. Specifications and scripting associated with these capabilities were held and controlled by private-sector companies, and all applications and enhancements had to go through these systems integrators. It could take up to 84 months to bring new capabilities online, by which time new technologies had often made the additions virtually obsolete.
So in 2014, we began our overhaul. Adopting a “we are they” mindset,
To build it, we adopted Silicon Valley’s “agile development” methodology, which breaks projects into small chunks and checks frequently to see whether progress is matching users’ changing needs. Applying agile techniques to all aspects of the redesign, we rebuilt DCGS with an open architecture and commercial-off-the-shelf hardware and software. This allows a culture shift that embraces and exploits the continually improving technology ecosystem delivered by a global marketplace. For example, we use Dell servers today, but tomorrow we could insert HP without reengineering the entire system.
With so much of the computing happening in the cloud, we needed a way to monitor events and system performance across this new DCGS. As well, management needed to be centralized across high- and low-security echelons to keep mission-critical systems working optimally. We
With these new models and tools in place, we are already seeing dramatic improvements in several measures. Moving to open architecture and agile development has sped the adoption of new system capabilities. DCGS users have been able to rapidly integrate commercial-off-the-shelf collaboration tools, including full-motion video and high-altitude exploitation capabilities, while integrating new tools for information correlation and dissemination. And while previously, all new capabilities had to be delivered by a dedicated installation-and-test team, DCGS can now remotely deliver new capabilities from a centralized hub.
We’ve also dramatically cut the time that it takes to certify software as secure enough for DCGS. By testing throughout the development cycle, and deploying onto an accredited platform, DCGS is able to apply the existing accreditation model using a software’s Certificate-to-Field with a Security Impact Analysis for each new capability. DCGS now operates with an established battle rhythm that has slashed the time for security accreditation/certification from 18 months to 30 working days. In several cases, we’ve done it in 10 working days.
The risk of introducing new components to the platform also has been greatly reduced, because we’re reducing the decision space to individual system components rather than the system as a whole. This means decisions are smaller, and made quicker at a lower cost. For example, we can now buy, test, and deploy new software with a license for our operators for about $1 million. Previously, every time we added a new capability, we would have had to build, test, and deploy the entire IT stack. A mistake could cost $100 million, likely ending the career of anyone associated with that decision. A smaller mistake is less often a career-ender and thus encourages smart and informed risk-taking.
And as we have moved to agile development, we’ve brought our partners along. We have formally educated more than 350 civilians, military, and contractor personnel across our combined teams on Scaled Agile Framework for the Enterprise, or
Bottom lines: before embracing open architecture, the DCGS spent about 70 percent of its funding on infrastructure and 30 percent on the capabilities and applications that users needed to accomplish their mission. Now those numbers are flipping. If we meet our goal, we will have doubled the share of DCGS funding that goes to mission apps instead of infrastructure. And Pentagon cost-estimators who looked at other Air Force and Navy ISR systems estimate that the new DCGS will avoid roughly $600 million in expenditures.
Even with these eye-opening savings, the real benefit to our new open architecture DCGS system is that we are able to develop intelligence from a range of platforms more quickly and easily than ever before. For the men and women who depend on that intelligence, it’s an extra measure of safety, security, and knowledge, and that’s more important than the savings.
MQ-8B Fire Scout Mine Chasers for the US Navy
It is called COBRA, an acronym for Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis, or AN / DVS-1 in Pentagon jargon. Thanks to this multi-sensor system, the US Navy can now count on drones to detect and detect naval mines, particularly in its landing operations. Its carrying platform is the Northrop-Grumman MQ-8B Fire Scout rotating wing reconnaissance machine.
In the first instance, the MQ-8B Fire Scout equipped with the AN / DVS-1 was launched on board five new warships of the LCS type (for Littoral Combat Ship) belonging to the Independence class. 1 COBRA will operate. Accepted in service in October 2017, this state-of-the-art system allows American sailors to have a flying eye capable of spotting these naval mines that float between two waters and represent a major danger for warships from around the world.
The AN / DVS-1 is a very modern design based on a chain of multi-sensor sensors to obtain imagery both infrared and ultraviolet spectrum. In total, no less than six wavelengths are used.
By 2025-2027, the US Navy should have the AN / DVS-2, aka COBRA Block-2, which will be embarked on a much larger MQ-8C Fire Scout type machine. However, in the eyes of American sailors, this first series is already a major step forward in the war on mines and in the planning of amphibious missions. The use of an unmanned aircraft avoids the need to engage divers and semi-rigid boats and thus considerably reduces the risk of injury or even death. Henceforth, mine clearance workers only intervene when the mine is clearly identified and located, to the nearest meter.
This new string added to the Northrop-Grumman MQ-8B Fire Scout arch continues to demonstrate that these unmanned helicopters are fully customized to the needs of the US Navy. Her admirals at the beginning saw in these drones only means of classical recognition must begin to change orientation in her doctrine of employment.
By the end of October, the U.S. Air Force will have made a decision on the future of the JSTARS recapitalization — namely, whether the service should cancel the program and replace it with an interim capability comprised of existing technology. However, the service’s No. 2 civilian said outsiders will have to wait until the fiscal 2019 budget is released to find out what will happen.
Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein have not yet made a final call on whether to cancel the JSTARS recap, but once a decision has been reached, the service will have to defend its decision to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, and then to the Office of Management and Budget and President Donald Trump, said Air Force Under Secretary Matt Donovan.
“The real decision will be when the FY19 budget goes over to Congress, that’s when the decision would be revealed to the public,” he told Defense News during his first-ever interview on Oct. 12.
Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman are competing to build the follow-on aircraft to the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, an aging fleet of 16 planes that have been heavily used in the Middle East for ground surveillance and communications relay. However, Air Force leaders are worried their current recapitalization strategy — which involves buying commercial planes modified to carry a powerful radar and battle management suite — might not be the most survivable option.
Earlier this month, Wilson said the final determination would be based on a “rapid assessment” conducted by a small team of officials tasked with evaluating and presenting alternatives to service leaders; but exactly what those options are remain shrouded in secrecy.
Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch told Defense News that the assessment team has not provided Wilson with a finalized list of options, but plans to do so in time to meet the secretary’s timetable for making a decision by the end of the month.
“The secretary has seen some of the dialogue in some of the areas that we’re looking at, but we need to put more granularity into it as we come forward,” Bunch said during an Oct. 10 interview.
He declined to lay out the various options under consideration, including which new and existing technologies could be linked together to perform the JSTARS mission or what new concepts of operation have been developed.
“We are looking at a variety of platforms that are out there, we are looking at a variety of upgrades and changes that we might need to do to pull all the disparate pieces of information together,” he said. “So I won’t say it’s this, this, this and this. What I would say is we’re looking at a variety of different things. I wouldn’t say we’ve nicked it down to: These three things are going to answer [it]. I think there are a bunch of different things that we’re going to look at.”
Bunch described the team responsible for the assessment as a small, diverse group with members from Air Force’s requirements and acquisition wings, research labs, Air Combat Command and Air Materiel Command.
“Our driver on this is being smart on how we meet the combatant commander’s requirements and how we meet our requirements. Cost is not the driver here. Budget is not the issue,” he said, adding that it’s possible some alternatives could be just as expensive as the JSTARS recap.
The big question the Air Force must now answer is whether the legacy JSTARS has enough service life to give the Air Force time to develop a systems-of-systems approach for doing the ground surveillance mission, said Mark Gunzinger, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. The technology is ready, he said, but it will take a big shift in thinking for the service to move from considering platforms to a concept of operations.
An aircraft like JSTARS is probably not survivable in a war with a peer competitor like China or Russia, he continued.
“You have an aircraft with a high-powered radar that emits a lot of energy that can frankly be detected by enemy IADS [integrated air defense systems] and other sensors. If you can be detected and then tracked, then perhaps an intercept would be launched against you, and that’s just not a survivable situation,” he said.
“But what if you had four or five aircraft that were communicating with each other through laser comms or some other LPI/LPD [low probability of intercept/low probability of detection] data link, and they had passive sensors, and they didn’t emit, yet they were capable of launching a couple of drones or cruise missiles with sensors that did emit?” he said.
“And those deployable systems then could radiate to detect targets, and the aircraft that launched them could remain passive and receive the energy that bounces off the targets and determines where those targets are. So now you’ve helped increase the survivability of your manned platforms by using deployable systems that radiate, and if they’re shot down, they’re much lower cost and, OK, just launch another one.”
Rebecca Grant of IRIS Independent Research said the Air Force will likely have to adopt an incremental approach that gradually pushes out new data links and sensors across its fleet — networking assets together over time.
“You can put packages on existing surveillance platforms. Put a package on the U-2, put a package on the Global Hawk,” she said. “We’re looking for the F-35 for more battle space intel characterization, so you can put littler things on littler airplanes to link them together to do the JSTARS mission and a whole bunch of other missions.”
“The difficult part is making the overall architecture decision. What planes? … What comm links? And this is not trivial,” she said.
It’s possible the Air Force — perhaps through Big Safari or the Rapid Capabilities Office — even develops small business jets outfitted with sensors to test out key technologies or to field them in the fleet as a “Version 1.0” type of capability, Grant said.
“This is not a case where you have to go and pioneer a lot of technologies,” she said. “It’s about the Air Force making choices and gritting their teeth and committing to a path forward knowing they’re going to have to go through version 1.0, 2.0 and so on and so forth. So to me the question is: Are they ready to take the plunge? If they are, then JSTARS recap as we know it goes away.”
The Air Force has indicated it will fly the legacy JSTARS until at least fiscal 2023, and that hasn’t changed, Bunch said. However, he left the door open on whether the Air Force would sustain the platform after that point, saying the service is also assessing whether it makes more sense to retire the fleet after that due to its high-operational costs.
“Past then is a long time out, and it will be informed by what I find as I do these decisions and I go through this effort,” he said, although he acknowledged the Air Force would have to abide by any congressional language mandating the retention of the JSTARS aircraft.
Despite multiple warnings from officials of the harmful consequences of a continuing resolution, or CR, Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, the Air Force’s military deputy for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Acquisition at the Pentagon, did not blame the a stopgap budget measure.
“The [continuing resolution] is not what’s impacting that,” he told reporters after an Air Force Association breakfast event in Washington, D.C.
“It is the review, the review of the proposals, and ensuring that we have the right items taken care of,” Bunch said.
“I do not right now see that bubbling into the other milestones that we’ve got in the future, but we’re very focused on getting it right,” he said of the T-X purchase.
The Air Force wants to buy 350 aircraft to replace its current Northrop Grumman Corp.-made
The general’s comments follow
“This is a case — like I’ve said before — sometimes you need to go slow in order to go fast,” Bunch said of the acquisition strategy. “Because if we do it [too fast], we end up in a protest, and [if ] we go through that process, it will set us back. It will take us even longer.”
He confirmed the Air Force “is saying spring” for awarding the T-X contract.
The delay isn’t a complete surprise.
Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told reporters at the Air Force Association’s annual conference last month that various programs are in jeopardy because of lingering budget uncertainties.
Wilson, who included the T-X into that category, said the lack of a budget has left the service’s programs in turmoil.
“There are no anomalies, there’s no exceptions, there’s no list of things [that say], ‘You can start this or start that or go ahead and buy more munitions or continue on with the T-X [program],’ ” she said.
“There’s no negotiation like that. If we don’t get a budget … we won’t have any new starts,” Wilson said.
The Air Force in December
Firms publicly competing for the contract include Boeing Co., Lockheed Martin Corp. and Leonardo S.p.A.
Boeing, the Chicago-based aerospace giant, is collaborating with Saab on the program and is the only bidder to offer a brand-new design.
Lockheed is working with Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd. to design a modified version of its T-50.
"The bill surpasses the president’s $603 billion defense budget request, the $549 billion cap set by the BCA and the $696.5 billion House version, with which the Senate version must be reconciled before the NDAA’s final passage by Congress.The bill surpasses the president’s $603 billion defense budget request, the $549 billion cap set by the BCA and the $696.5 billion House version, with which the Senate version must be reconciled before the NDAA’s final passage by Congress."
etc., just this and the link, as an interest here in $$$ is close to zero as far as I've noticed over the years LOL!
US Senate passes budget-busting $700 billion defense policy bill
18 hours ago