January 18, 2012

Cotnract Award: Raytheon to support U.S. Air Force network-centric capabilities

News Report

As announced in a recent press release, Raytheon has been awarded a $179.5 million follow-on contract by the U.S. Air Force to provide Contractor Field Service (CFS) support for U-2 sensors, data links and the Air Force Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS). Raytheon has been prime on the CFS program providing support to the warfighter since the original contract was awarded in 1999.

Under the terms of the contract, Raytheon will provide support at the Air National Guard and Predator Operations Center, Air Force Flight Test Facility, Consolidated Remote Operations-Facility Airborne and DGS-X Test-bed Facility. The U-2 CFS contract also calls for Raytheon engineers and technicians to perform other services, such as training.

The Technology

Raytheon is the prime contractor for the Air Force DCGS contract. DCGS is a worldwide distributed, network centric, system-of-systems architecture that conducts collaborative intelligence operations. DCGS provides both physical and electronic distribution of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data.

The DCGS produces intelligence information collected by the U-2, RQ-4 Global Hawk, MQ-9 Reaper and MQ-1 Predator. The system is currently composed of multiple separated, networked sites. The distributed ground and mission sites are a mixture of active-duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve units working as an integrated combat capability. The individual weapon system nodes are regionally focused and paired with their corresponding Air Force component numbered air force to provide critical processing, analysis and dissemination of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, or ISR, data collected within the numbered air force's area of responsibility. However, globally networked capabilities enable the weapon system to execute missions beyond their area of responsibility. Each weapon system is able to accept data from any U-2, RQ-4 Global Hawk, MQ-9 Reaper or MQ-1 Predator operating anywhere in the world and analyze and disseminate accurate and timely intelligence globally.

The U.S. Air Force DCGS presents significant challenges as it becomes a networked, worldwide, distributed ISR ground system. As existing systems are upgraded and migrated to a Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) based Open Architecture system of systems, new DCGS sites will be activated as the system grows over a Wide Area Network. All these integration activities must occur while day-to-day operations continue, requiring to perform all the required activities to maintain a fully accredited system.

The Context

The current U.S. Air Force DCGS concept evolved from many Air Force ISR predecessor programs dating back to the 1960's. The first AF DCGS weapon system, called the Deployable Ground Station-1, or DGS-1, began operations in July 1994. A few short weeks later, the DGS-1 weapon system deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in support of military operations in Haiti in August 1994.

The key element of DCGS evolved from the high-altitude manned U-2 and national programs. In the mid-1980s, the U.S. Air Force deployed mobile ISR vans to forward locations to allow the U-2 to downlink aerial observation data for exploitation.

The U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft

The U-2 and exploitation vans had to be within line of sight of each other to work. The Air Force continued to develop technology to enable the U-2 to downlink data beyond the line of sight of the exploitation vans. Leveraging multiple communication assets and space systems, and enhancing collection platforms and sensors, U.S. Air Force built an architecture that allowed U-2, Global Hawk, Predator, and Reaper aircraft to transmit regionally collected data to exploitation locations around the globe. The Air Force DCGS system evolved into a Department of Defense (DOD) DCGS program to create a system of systems for the sharing of intelligence across joint and allied forces. Today, each of the military Services has DCGS elements, based on DOD DCGS standards, and tailored for specific aspects of joint and allied operations. The DCGS has thus evolved from a deployable system into a true distributed ISR operations capability integrating platforms and crews to provide critical intelligence to combat forces down to the warfighters at the lowest level. Over the years, the AF DCGS weapon system and its predecessor systems have engaged in ISR operations in every major conflict that has had U.S. involvement.

The DCGS currently participates in operations throughout the world including those led by United Nations, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, U.S. Central Command, U.S. European Command, U.S. Forces Korea, U.S. Northern Command, U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Southern Command operations throughout the world.

Major System Contractors for the DCGS are Raytheon, Lockheed-Martin, L-3 Communications, Northrop Grumman, Hughes, Goodrich and Houston-Fearless.

This system is now leading the way toward seamless interoperability among all military services with its open architecture, Web-based DCGS Integration Backbone (DIB). The DIB facilitates the distribution of the right information at the right time to maximize operational effectiveness. A previous contract award concerning DCGS and DIB was recently reported by this blog (Contract Award: Lockheed Martin to improve intelligence sharing capability of US DoD).


"This contract allows us to provide more than 500 field engineers, supporting around-the-clock worldwide operations across 27 locations," said Raymond Kolibaba, vice president of Defense and Civil Mission Solutions for Raytheon's Intelligence and Information Systems business. "The program includes pre-flight system checks, mission support during flight and post-mission problem analysis."

References: Raytheon (1,3), U.S. Air Force (2), GlobalSecurity (4), Air Force Technology (5)

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