The U.S. Air Force and Northrop Grumman have completed the third in a series of war fighter analysis workshops for the Air Operations Center Weapon System modernization program.
The workshops are part of the AOC WS rapid development and prototyping process that incorporates early user feedback to help reduce development costs and ensure operational success.
The Defense Department considers AOCs a weapon system vital to the national interest and the AOC WS modernization program represents a major leap in command and control capability for air components supporting combatant commanders throughout the globe.
Northrop Grumman’s iterative process of frequent prototyping with operators providing direct input has been a hallmark of the modernization effort for the Air Force’s essential operational-level C2 centers. By engaging operational war fighters early in the acquisition life cycle, the company minimizes development costs by validating concepts before the system is complete.
“The war fighter has been an integral part of our AOC modernization program,” said Mike Twyman, vice president and general manager of the Defense Systems division of Northrop Grumman Information Systems.
“Early and continuous assessment from actual users is key to our successful delivery of an agile, flexible C2 system to meet evolving challenges and enable fifth-generation joint force concepts.”
During the workshops, operators exercised the dynamic targeting and airspace management mission threads while taking advantage of machine-to-machine automation and collaborative workflows built into the design.
Northrop Grumman’s prototype AOC system completed a system security accreditation risk reduction event in June that demonstrated improved cyber protection and an automated cybersecurity tool set. The company is in the process of installing the fourth prototype at the AOC WS integration and test laboratory, readying the system for additional capability demonstrations and feedback.
These activities are part of the AOC WS program’s risk reduction phase known as Pre-Engineering and Manufacturing Development (Pre-EMD). The program is nearing completion of this phase, on schedule and under budget. Pending Defense Department authorization of Milestone B, the next program phase, EMD, will include completion of detailed design, formal test and initial fielding of the system to geographic AOCs.
In conjunction with the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., Northrop Grumman is modernizing the AOC by developing a secure, streamlined computing environment for legacy and future applications. The AOC WS modernization effort is intended to decrease hardware footprint and improve system manageability, thereby lowering total ownership costs. Objectives include delivering a common computing environment to reduce manual information sharing between systems and building the foundation for future C2 needs. AOC modernization also aims to accelerate the integration of new applications and enable flexibility to deliver modular, mission-tailorable capabilities to war fighters.