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Digital design / engineering is at the heart of the Air Force’s Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program. Image from Raytheon I&S.

WASHINGTON: Digital ‘transformation’ enables each uniformed service to determine whether new weapon systems can integrate smoothly into joint operations – a fundamental requirement for the implementation of the joint command and control strategy from all areas (JADC2) of the DoD, say senior air and space officials.

From a high-level DoD perspective, “all your systems have to work together,” said Mike Roberts, director of the Space Rapid Capabilities Office (Space RCO) yesterday. “All data needs to be movable and digital engineering allows you to make sure that happens. “

Roberts was speaking – with Chief Air Force Architect Preston Dunlap; William Bailey, Air Force Assistant Deputy Secretary for Acquisition Integration; Kristen Baldwin, Air Force Assistant Assistant Secretary for Science, Technology and Engineering – at the Potomac Officers Club Seminar on Digital Acquisition.

Digital acquisition is a shorthand for applying to weapon system development the type of highly computerized design, engineering and manufacturing process commonly used in commercial industry, such as the automotive industry, to rapidly produce new models. improved. The term also covers finding ways to accelerate the often freezing pace of DoD contracts, especially for software systems.

The digital revolution is “essential to be able to maintain our advantage over our competitors,” Baldwin said. “Digital transformation is really essential, and it is truly a national and economic security imperative. “

Prepare the recipe well

“It’s not enough to have excellent ones, call them ingredients, but you actually have to incorporate ingredients into a recipe in order to be able to enjoy the food or achieve the end state that you are looking for,” explained Dunlap. “We need horizontal integration so that we can actually bring together the ingredients, or the platforms, systems and software that we have, together to be able to achieve the end states that we need. “

Dunlap, a key player in the development of the Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System (AMBS) family of systems to support JADC2, said there are three key mission objectives in the air and space forces. (The Space Force reports to the Department of the Air Force, in the same way that the Marine Corps reports to the Department of the Navy.)

“The first is to get after the information advantage and decision superiority – to understand the scope so that we can hopefully avoid conflict. But, if we do (go to war), let’s be successful in the conflict at the operational level, ”he said.

The Information Advantage is one of the four key principles of DoD’s New Concept of Joint Warfare (JWC) to continue all domain operations against countries like Russia and China. While not well defined – at least in public, although the military is embarking on developing an information advantage doctrine – the concept actually boils down to the fact that commanders Americans get better information faster than their opponents.

Dunlap explained that the second goal is to “seek integrative capabilities” for “distributed operations and agile combat employment that is defensible and sustainable.”

Agile Combat Employment (ACE), refers to the Air Force’s ability to operate from dispersed locations and limit its base and operational footprint, for example by being able to land where there is none. no improved runways – and this is a key Air Force tenant for the implementation of the JWC.

Finally, he said, the goal “at the tactical level” is “to get really good at chains of rapid destruction, and that’s where things like Joint All Domain Command and Control, or JADC2, s ‘fit, or ABMS fits, into the scheme as well. “

To accomplish these three missions, Dunlap explained, the air and space forces are working on:

  • Data, including data mobility across classification levels: “Get the data right, for the boardroom and the battlefields, make decisions efficiently and at high speeds.” “
  • IA. “We are making AI a reality… We are making progress, not only on systems, but also on more strategic applications of AI. “
  • Networks. “We’re looking to overhaul our networks, especially the classified networks, and use your devices to bring us into the modern era that we need, just for day-to-day operations like COVID has shown us here, but also in the operations distributed abroad. “
  • Integration of SRI. “We seek to connect them and integrate space, air, computer intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance: should our data and information make sense of this? “
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