Tech

June 7, 2012

Squadron nears completion of ballistic missile warning communications upgrade

by Scott Prater
Schriever AFB, Colo.

A Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile configured with a National Nuclear Security Administration joint test assembly launches May 22, 2012, from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The 50th Space Communications Squadron recently completed upgrades to ballistic missile warning sensors around the world.

Ballistic missile warning sensors at sites around the world provide information vital to U.S. national security.

When the link connecting those sensors to decision makers at the North American Aerospace Defense Command was in jeopardy of failing, the Air Force called on the 50th Space Communications Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo., to help remedy the situation.

Six years and $6 million later, contractor crews working for the 50th SCS stand ready to flip the switch on a final upgrade that should safeguard the vital link for years to come, officials said.

The Air Force Space Command Digital Integrated Network, known as SDIN, has been around for decades. That means the actual communication equipment used to create the network has also been around for decades.

When the manufacturer of the 1980s-era equipment stopped building new machines, Air Force leaders knew they needed to create a plan for maintaining the legacy hardware, while at the same time developing, testing and implementing modern replacements.

“All of the legacy equipment, known as Timeplex, was growing beyond its end of life, so we’ve been under pressure to complete the upgrades,” said Mike Hamilton, the SDIN program manager. “Since the Timeplex manufacturer couldn’t support the aging equipment, we had to stockpile spare parts.”

Essentially, crews were in a race to replace the legacy equipment with upgraded machines before the 50th SCS ran out of spares, all of which was much easier said than done, officials said.

The modern equipment, referred to as Juniper, needed to be installed, painstakingly tested and then approved before it could replace the older communication equipment at sensor sites around the world. All the work was performed onsite at each SDIN sensor site, some of which exist in remote locations.

Adding to the complexity of the project was the fact that the upgrade needed to occur without a disruption in service. Since more than seven worldwide entities – including Russia, China, North Korea and Iran – possess the capability to launch a ballistic missile, according to the National Intelligence Council, the system’s importance is immeasurable.

“The SDIN network’s primary function is 100 percent reliability,” Hamilton said. “It has a lot of redundancy in both equipment and routing built into the network as well as alternative routing in case of failure. It’s an extremely robust network because it has to be.”

Hamilton indicated that missile warning or integrated tactical warning and attack assessment isn’t the only mission SDIN supports. It also provides a data link for missions such as Milstar, controlled by the 4th Space Operations Squadron here, and the space-based infrared system.

Timeplex served its nation and military well and was an extremely reliable system, but the Juniper equipment is truly an upgrade, Hamilton said. Juniper supports all of the legacy protocols as well as newer bandwidths and newer protocols. Plus, it is still in production so the manufacturer can support and warrant all of the products involved.

The 50th SCS will wrap up the project soon. Squadron leaders said they expect the final SDIN equipment upgrade to tentatively occur at a sensor site somewhere around the world this September.

“The SDIN network is a unique and key enabler of the AFSPC, integrated tactical warning and attack assessment, and space command and control missions,” said Ward Adams, the 50th SCS Plans and Resources Flight chief. “SDIN allows decision makers to get the right information on time.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines September 15, 2014

News: Navy identifies pilot presumed dead in crash - A Navy fighter pilot presumed dead after two fighter jets crashed in the far western Pacific Ocean has been identified.   Business: Boeing eyes 737-700 solution for new JSTARS - Boeing is officially planning a variant of its 737-700 commercial jetliner as a competitor for the Air Force’s...
 
 

News Briefs September 15, 2014

Australia contributing planes for anti-IS campaign Australia is preparing to contribute 600 troops and up to 10 military aircraft to the increasingly aggressive campaign against the Islamic State extremists in Syria and Iraq, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Sept. 14. Abbott said Australia was responding to a formal request from the United States for specific...
 
 
Courtesy graphic

Lockheed Martin conducts flight tests of aircraft laser turret for DARPA

AFRL photograph The Aero-adaptive Aero-optic Beam Control turret that Lockheed Martin is developing for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Air Force Research Laboratory has completed initial flight testing. T...
 

 

Lockheed Martin advances live, virtual, constructive training in flight test

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=jvXmOW8L3mU Lockheed Martin successfully tested a new solution for integrated live, virtual and constructive training during a flight demonstration at the company’s Aeronautics facility in Fort Worth, Texas. During the flight test, a pilot flying in a live F-16 engaged in a synthetic training exercise with a pilot flying as wing...
 
 
Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover arrives at Martian mountain

NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover has reached the Red Planet’s Mount Sharp, a Mount-Rainier-size mountain at the center of the vast Gale Crater and the rover mission’s long-term prime destination. “Curiosity n...
 
 

Raytheon begins full rate production on TALON Laser Guided Rockets

Under a $117 million contract awarded to Raytheon, Raytheon Missile Systems has begun production of the TALON Laser Guided Rocket. In 2013, the Armed Forces General Headquarters of the United Arab Emirates awarded Tawazun a contract to procure the TALON Laser Guided Rocket. “Full rate production of the TALON LGR is a significant milestone for...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>