Defense

April 9, 2014

Significant milestone met as progress continues on AWACS upgrade

SrA. John Wilson, 552nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, prepares an E-3 AWACS at Tinker in 2012 for its first flight since the plane was upgraded with the Block 40/45 modification. Hanscom’s program office is the lead integrator and recently met a significant milestone for the upgrade, which is the biggest in AWACS history, replacing mission computer systems and infrastructure with modern, user-friendly and net-centric advancements.

An important milestone was recently reached on a significant upgrade improving capabilities for the Airborne Warning and Control System, better known as AWACS.

The 40/45 block upgrade is the largest modification on the U.S. AWACS fleet. It provides a complete replacement of mission computer systems – some of which were originally installed in the 1970s – and a new open, network-based architecture, which enables future net-centric operations. While the improvements themselves are being completed by the 566th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Tinker AFB, Okla., the program office here at Hanscom has the role of lead integrator.

Five of the upgraded aircraft have been delivered to the 552nd Air Control Wing at Tinker, which operates the AWACS fleet. The fifth delivery marked the key acquisition milestone of required assets available for initial operational capability of this acquisition category 1c program and is a big step toward IOC declaration by the user.

“The 40/45 block upgrade for our aircraft is critical to our weapon system remaining relevant in the battlespace of the future, and IOC declaration is a critical step in fielding this new capability,” said Col. Jay R. Bickley, 552nd Air Control Wing commander.

And in order to keep that capability viable, diminishing manufacturing sources for current equipment are also being addressed by incorporating more modern components as they become available during programmed depot maintenance. To minimize aircraft operational downtime, modifications are performed at the same time as PDM at the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex at Tinker.

According to program officials, there have been challenges, such as budget uncertainties and their impacts, to get to this point.

“These uncertainties drove an intense focus on dynamic planning, talent and resource management to ensure successful program execution and delivery of this capability to the warfighter,” said Lt. Col. Frank Gaillard, E-3 Netcentric Capabilities materiel leader and Block 40/45 program manager.

Additional improvements that are part of the upgrade include replacement of mission software and peripherals. New mission software will enhance tracking and combat identification capabilities, in addition to providing operators with a better picture of the battlespace.

“Block 40/45 provides modern battle management command and control for the operators in order to increase mission effectiveness,” said 1st Lt. Evan Porter, 40/45 production lead.

The upgrade also allows for more sensor integration and improves the aircraft’s data link infrastructure.

Following IOC, the team will then move into full-rate production, or FRP, with the first of those aircraft scheduled to be inducted in the third quarter of Fiscal 2014. FRP for the remaining aircraft is scheduled to continue until 2020.

“As with any major modification program of this magnitude, the fielding of 40/45 has been a very long process and we are beginning to see the light at the end of a very long tunnel,” said Bickley. “It is crucial that we stay the course and ensure this critical capability reaches the hand of the war fighter.”




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


 
 

 
Army photograph by Maj. Daniel Markert

‘Futurist’ predicts Far East challenges for expeditionary Army

Army photograph by Maj. Daniel Markert Soldiers will face anti-satellite operations and electronic warfare in the future, predicted Dr. Andrew F. Krepinevich Jr., president of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments,...
 
 

$2 million A.F. prize for development of a small, efficient turboshaft engine

Registration is now open for the $2 million Air Force Prize that will be awarded to the first entrant to successfully develop a small, lightweight, fuel-efficient turbine engine. “In order to continue to move forward and to ensure that our Air Force has the best technology available, it is imperative that we collaborate with industry...
 
 
Northrop Grumman photograph

Global Hawk earns unprecedented third consecutive sustainment award

Northrop Grumman photograph A U.S. Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk on a runway in Palmdale, Calif. For an unprecedented third year in a row, the U.S. Air Force RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft program was officially awarded the Dr...
 

 
navair-fire-scout

MQ-8C Fire Scout completes developmental flight test

Northrop Grumman photograph An MQ-8C Fire Scout†conducts its†final†developmental test flight April 29 from Naval Base Ventura County at Point Mugu, Calif.† Since its first flight in October 2013, the Navy’s new, l...
 
 
Air Force photograph by SSgt. DeNoris A. Mickle

‘Sentient data’ may one day augment Soldier capability

Air Force photograph by SSgt. DeNoris A. Mickle Air Force photograph by SSgt. DeNoris A. Mickle “Sentient data,” or information that can feel and perceive things, might one day protect Soldiers and their networks, s...
 
 
Air Force photograph

AEDC conducts space environment test for U.S. Navy

Air Force photograph Members of AEDC’s Space Threat Assessment Testbed (STAT) Test & Evaluation team install a microsatellite in the STAT chamber before conducting a test. The Space and Missiles Combined Test Force at the...
 




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>