September 27, 2011

NATO approves Air Command and Control System Factory System Tests

References: ThalesRaytheonSystems (1), NATO (2), NACMA (3)

News Report

As appeared on a recent press release, ThalesRaytheonSystems has received approval from the NATO Air Command and Control System Management Agency (NACMA) for successfully completing the NATO Air Command and Control System (ACCS) Factory System Test.

The System

The NATO Air Command And Control System (ACCS) is intended to combine, and automate, at the tactical level the planning and tasking and execution of all air operations. When operational, the ACCS will provide a unified air command and control system, enabling NATO’s European nations (including new Alliance members) to seamlessly manage all types of air operations over their territory, and beyond.

The system will provide for the management of the functions of air traffic control, surveillance, air mission control, air space management, force management, and command and control resource management.

At the planning and tasking level the system will be fielded in Combined Air Operations Centres (CAOCs). At the execution level, ACCS will be fielded in control centres that will provide facilities for aircraft control and production and dissemination of the Joint Environment Picture.

The Context

The ACCS was conceived in the 1980’s to replace existing air defence systems such as NADGE and GEADGE, but it wasn’t until 1992 that the North Atlantic Council agreed to the initial implementation of ACCS to a first level of operational capability in both static and deployable configurations.
The initial NATO contract, worth at the time some US $500M, was signed in 1999 with Air Command Systems International (ACSI), a French-registered company (now based in Massy near Paris) formed by two shareholders, Raytheon of the USA and Thomson-CSF (now THALES) of France. The contract provides for the development and testing of the ACCS system core software and hardware, and initial installation will occur in validation sites in Belgium, France, Germany and Italy which have each signed separate contracts with ACSI. Following successful testing and validation, replication of the software will occur in sites throughout NATO Europe.

NATO’s contract with ACSI is managed by the NATO ACCS Management Agency (NACMA) in Brussels. NACMA is the procurement and implementing body of the NATO ACCS Management Organisation (NACMO). Within its primary function as a system acquisition agency, NACMA’s tasks include; the central planning, system engineering, implementation and configuration management for the ACCS programme, and ensuring ACCS system integrity, integration and interoperability.

ACCS was identified as one of the “top 10” NATO priorities at the Lisbon Summit in 2010. With ACCS, NATO operators will have a state-of-the-art air C2 system responsible for 8 million square kilometers of European airspace and out-of-area NATO operations. ACCS will provide opportunities for common training, standard operational procedures and centralized maintenance for all NATO nations, significantly reducing support costs and increasing manning flexibility. As NATO evolves in the future, ACCS is designed to adapt to new operational challenges whether it be for continued advancements to air C2 or the addition of Ballistic Missile Defense capabilities, ACCS provides the solid command and control foundation for the alliance.


NATO ACCS is the largest system of its kind to be delivered across multiple nations and provides critical new capabilities including resource management, Surface-to-Air Missile planning and automated flight safety aids in support of modern NATO operations”, said Jack Harrington, CEO, ThalesRaytheonSystems. “ACCS has left the factory to complete its validation at the NATO Test and Validation Facility, and the national operational sites.”

The Factory System Test was a comprehensive set of technical and operational tests, giving NATO the confidence to move forward to the next validation phase and for ACCS to be the foundation for Ballistic Missile Defence C2 capabilities,” said Dr van der Giet, General Manager, NACMA. “The teamwork between NACMA and Industry was excellent, in particular through the performance of the specific NATO-designed end-to-end operational scenario.

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