October 28, 2011

Contract Award: US AOC Air and Space Operations Center Weapon System goes SOA

News Report

As reported by the US Department of Defense, Northrop Grumman is being awarded an $119,715,682 contract for the design, development, test, and deployment of Increment 10.2, modernization of the Air and Space Operations Center Weapon System.

Increment 10.2 is intended to bring net-centric capabilities to the Geographic Air and Space Operations Center Weapons Systems, thereby allowing data to flow seamlessly across various platforms and process workflows rather than being locked in separate information technology system “silos” to be accessed and retransmitted by humans, as is the process today.

Increment 10.2 capabilities will be fielded to the Geographic Air and Space Operations Centers; a help desk at Langley Air Force Base, Va.; and the Formal Training Unit at Hurlburt Field, Fla.

In addition, the modernization contractor will be responsible for maintaining interoperability and sustainment of the Air and Space Operations Center Weapon System baseline, to include site-specific tailoring. The primary location of performance is Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation, Herndon, Va.

The Context

The US Air and Space Operations Center Weapon System (AOC WS) is the US Joint Force Air Component Commander's (JFACC) primary node for commanding air and space power.

The AOC is the weapon system (personnel, capabilities and equipment) through which the JFACC exercises command and control of aerospace forces. It is the senior element of the Theater Air Control System (TACS).

The JFACC employs the AOC Weapon System (AOC WS) to maneuver and mass overwhelming air and space power through centralized control and decentralized execution to produce desired operational and strategic effects in support of the Joint Force Commander's (JFC) campaign. The AOC is the air and space operations planning, execution, and assessment system for the JFACC. The AOC develops the air and space operations strategy and planning documents to meet JFACC objectives and guidance. The AOC tasks and executes day-to-day air and space operations and provides rapid reaction, positive control, coordination, and de-confliction of weapons systems.

The AOC Weapon System program is aimed at minimizing information technology footprint and integrate more than 40 independent programs into a common computing infrastructure. The program will optimize a net-centric implementation for centralized command and control (C2) and decentralized execution.

The AOC WS Increment 10.2 is focused on implementing a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) that features flexibility, interoperability, and efficiency. "We're looking to have a single computing environment for the AOC Weapon System," said Lt. Col. John Barrette, AOC WS 10.2 program manager, on last March. "Right now, there are lots of servers and workstations and not enough machine-to-machine integration. We want to implement an SOA, a services-oriented architecture, to improve the capabilities of the AOC." Integrating mission services and data into a single computing environment will improve those abilities and also bring other benefits, according to Colonel Barrette.

Today, each geographic AOC supports one theater joint forces air component commander in planning and executing the kill chain -- find, fix, track, target, engage and assess -- for the air war. Additionally,  the AOC WS is composed principally of a collection of stand-alone systems. When a new capability needs to be added, or a legacy system upgraded, it can take from 12 to 18 months to field. It also is becoming more expensive to keep legacy systems operational.

"What's in the field today has been very successful for planning and executing major theater wars," Colonel Barrette said. "From a warfighter perspective, this AOC modernization will improve the operators' ability to effectively support dynamic planning for irregular warfare or counterinsurgency operations. With this RFP, we're trying to be responsive to the evolving missions of the AOC."

"My vision is to make the AOC Weapon System work for the warfighter, not vice versa," he said.

Under the awarded contract, Northrop Grumman will become the sustainment contractor for the AOC WS 10.1 baseline. The current contract for this work expired in September. Second, Northrop Grumman will need to design and prototype the common computing environment, the SOA, and be able to demonstrate integration of capabilities into that environment for the AOC WS 10.2.

References: US DoD (1), US Air Force (2)

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