Find a Security Clearance Job!

Space


Airborne Surveillance Test Bed (AST)

Boeing 767-200 Airborne Surveillance Testbed, N767BA was once used to monitor ICBM launches and Simulated warhead re-entries at Kwajalien Atoll. It has been stored at Victorville since September 20, 2003.

The Airborne Surveillance Test Bed (AST) is a BMD asset being used to validate Long Wavelength Infrared (LWIR) sensor functional performance and to collect infrared data on a wide variety of ballistic missile targets. The AST system is a highly capable long wavelength infrared (LWIR) surveillance system testbed which uses a modified (contractor-owned) Boeing 767 as a platform. The system's large field-of-view LWIR sensor is used to accurately measure target infrared signature and position. The AST is frequently used as a surrogate for sensor systems under development. By collecting data and demonstrating sensor performance, the system addresses critical NMD and TMD development issues.

The AST consists of a large three-color, LWIR sensor mounted in an 86-foot-long cupola atop a modified Boeing 767 aircraft. In addition to the module housing the AST sensor, the cupola on top has a second module capable of accommodating another sensor. The main cabin houses the signal and data processing equipment, operator consoles, recording equipment, global positioning system processors, and other ancillary equipment. The AST completed many data collection and performance demonstration missions. These missions were conducted at a variety of test ranges, including Kwajalein Missile Range (KMR), Pacific Missile Range Facility, Eastern Test Range, White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), and Wallops Island. Missions have been conducted at other CONUS locations as well. The AST is based at the Military Flight Center, Boeing Field, Seattle, WA. Future missions will allow the AST to collect data against new and never-before-seen targets and to expand the demonstration of surveillance sensor functions to new areas. AST continues to provide critical data and demonstrations.

As the program evolved, and a variety of successful missions were flown, the expense of maintaining proprietary (and generally unique/custom) hardware and software became more of a burden. Therefore, a process of transitioning both onboard and ground to Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) technology was started. This included both hardware and software. The initial improvement was to transition from the custom 25 CPU, full mil-spec ruggedized flight computer and its proprietary O/S and Pascal compiler to an industry standard real-time computer (Harris Nighthawk 4404 with four 25MHz Motorola 88100 RISC processors) and a more viable language (Ada 83).

A Raytheon interceptor seeker (part of a Navy risk reduction effort) has been integrated onto the aircraft; a staring medium wave infrared (MWIR) camera has been added as well. Onboard processing capabilities include a Concurrent TurboHawk (multi-CPU PowerPC flight computer) along with a variety of custom and off-the-shelf signal processing equipment, SGI workstations, DEC Alphas, and PCs, largely programmed in Ada and C++.

On October 11, 1995 Boeing Defense and Space Group, Seattle, Washington, was awarded a $798,000 increment of a $23,033,768 modification to a $134,835,922 cost plus fixed fee/level of effort contract to exercise the option for continued operation of the Airborne Surveillance Testbed (AST) for FY96. Work will be performed in Seattle, Washington, and is expected to be completed by September 30, 1996. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This is a sole source contract initiated on October 22, 1994. The contracting activity is the U.S. Army Space and Strategic Defense Command, Huntsville, Alabama (DASG60-91-C-0146).

On September 10, 1996 Boeing Defense and Space Group, Seattle, Washington, was awarded a $185,000 increment of a $23,099,179 modification to a cost plus fixed fee/level of effort contract to exercise the option for continued operation of the Airborne Surveillance Testbed (AST) for FY97. The acquisition is for the continued operation of the AST to accomplish necessary planning, calibration, testing, data collection, and data reduction to provide infrared data from specific missions which support resolution of ballistic missile defense issues and provide assistance for both ballistic missile defense and strategic defense element developments. Work will be performed in Seattle, Washington, and is expected to be completed by September 30, 1997. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This is a sole source contract initiated on October 11, 1994. The contracting activity is the U.S. Army Space and Strategic Defense Command, Huntsville, Alabama (DASG60-91-C-0146).

On September 23, 1997 Boeing Defense and Space Group, Seattle, Wash., was awarded a $1,920,900 increment of a $23,210,911 modification to a $181,320,359 cost-plus-fixed-fee/level-of-effort contract to exercise the option for continued operation of the Airborne Surveillance Testbed (AST) for FY98. The effort will accomplish necessary planning, calibration, testing, data collection, and data reduction to provide infrared data from specific missions which support resolution of ballistic defense issues and provide assistance for both ballistic missile defense and strategic defense element developments. Work will be performed in Seattle, Wash., and is expected to be completed by Sept. 30, 1998. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This is a sole source contract initiated on Oct. 11, 1994. The contracting activity is the U.S. Army Space and Strategic Defense Command, Huntsville, Ala. (DASG60-91-C-0146).

Spaceflight Meteorology Group (SMG) supported a unique NASA project involving the French Ariane-5 launch from French Guiana on October 30, 1997. The goal of the NASA project was to track the re-entry and breakup of the main stage in the Pacific Ocean. The French Space Program requested this fully reimbursable NASA support. Over 100 people and two aircraft, Boeing's Airborne Surveillance Testbed's (AST) 767, and a USAF C135 (ARGUS), were involved in this NASA support.

On September 23, 1998 Boeing Defense and Space Group, Seattle, Wash., was awarded a $4,069,744 increment of a $23,210,911 modification to a cost-plus-fixed-fee/level-of-effort contract, to exercise the option for continued operation of the Airborne Surveillance Testbed (AST) for FY99. The purpose is to accomplish necessary planning, calibration, testing, data collection, and data reduction to provide infrared data from specific missions which support resolution of ballistic missile defense issues and provide assistance for both ballistic missile defense and strategic defense element developments. Work will be performed in Seattle, Wash., and is expected to be completed by Sept. 30, 1999. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This is a sole source contract initiated on Oct. 11, 1994. The contracting activity is the U.S. Army Space & Strategic Defense Command, Huntsville, Ala. (DASG60-91-C-0146).

In November 1998 the Boeing Airborne Surveillance Testbed (AST) aircraft completed a major milestone by successfully tracking two U.S. Navy missiles with the Navy's new Captive Carry SM-3 seeker built by Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, Ariz. This infrared sensor, installed in the AST's cupola, was being tested in support of the Navy's Theater-Wide Missile program. Raytheon-built IR sensor was installed in the aft module of Boeing's Airborne Surveillance Testbed aircraft. The AST crew tested the sensor's software to verify it can acquire and track targets. Boeing tested the SM-3 seeker subsystem to verify it can acquire and track representative theater ballistic missile targets. Later, this advanced seeker was integrated with the Navy's next generation of theater ballistic interceptor missiles.

On December 28, 1999 the Boeing Co., Seattle, Wash., was awarded a $10,568,000 increment of a $72,492,448 modification to cost-plus-fixed-fee/level-of-effort contract DASG60-91-C-0146, for the operation and maintenance of the Airborne Surveillance Testbed for FY2000; an addition of options to the contract for continued operation through FY2002. Work will be performed in Seattle, Wash., and is expected to be completed by Sept. 30, 2002. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This is a sole source contract initiated on June 7, 1999. The U.S. Army Space & Missile Defense Command, Huntsville, Ala., is the contracting activity.

On September 20, 2001 The Boeing Co., Seattle, Wash., was awarded on Sept. 19, 2001, a $963,632 increment as part of a $15,065,429 modification to cost-plus-fixed-fee/level-of-effort contract DASG60-91-C-0146 to exercise the option for continued operation of the airborne surveillance testbed from Oct. 1, 2001 to Sept. 30, 2002. The purpose of this effort is to accomplish necessary planning, calibration, testing, data collection and data reduction to provide infrared data from specific missions which support resolution of ballistic missile defense issues and provide assistance for both ballistic missile defense and strategic defense element developments. Work will be performed in Seattle, Wash., and completion is expected by Sept. 30, 2002. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This is a sole source contract initiated on June 7, 1999. The U.S. Army Space & Missile Defense Command, Huntsville, Ala., is the contracting activity.




NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list