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Joint SIGINT Avionics Family (JSAF)

DoD is implementing the Joint Airborne Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) Architecture (JASA) to ensure commonality and interoperability among SIGINT airborne surveillance and reconnaissance systems. The Joint Airborne SIGINT Architecture and its components, the Joint SIGINT Avionics Family (JSAF) and the Joint Interoperable Operator Network, provided a template to help build the network centric Unified Cryptologic Architecture. The Joint SIGINT Avionics Family (JSAF) was developed in FY 1996 as an affordable approach to implement JASA. A JSAF prototype system flew on a Navy EP-3 in December 1997. Both the RC-135 RIVET JOINT and EP-3 aircraft are completing other major upgrade programs and began transitioning to JSAF in FY 1999.

The JSAF CRD (CAF 002-88 Joint CAF -USA, USN, USMC CAPSTONE Requirements Document for JOINT SIGINT AVIONICS FAMILY) requires all airborne reconnaissance aircraft to migrate to JASA compliance by 2010. Current aircraft architecture and collection system have insufficient capability to intercept modern modulation and low probability of detection communications and radar signals. System requires improvements to accurately measure signal polarization and angle of arrival to the required accuracy, and to process signals in the presence of co-channel interfering signals. DOD airborne collection platforms do not operate under a common architecture and are limited in their ability to exchange data among platforms for the purpose of rapid signal triangulation for geolocation and targeting.

JSAF sensor equipment will not only provide increased performance, interoperability, and commonality across the airborne reconnaissance fleet, but also allow interoperability with satellite systems. The Department also developed and published SIGINT standards to help industry develop JSAF components, leading to common, interoperable SIGINT collection systems for airborne reconnaissance platforms. JSAF equipment can be used not only in manned signals intelligence platforms, but also in UAVs, pending their adoption of the signals intelligence mission.

The objective of Joint SIGINT Avionics (JSAF) is the creation of functional commonality and interoperability among all U.S. airborne reconnaissance platforms, regardless of service or airframe type. Commonality and interoperability are accomplished through an open architecture, common sensor payload, and software reconfigurable processors. The development is being accomplished through a series of technology modules that can be incrementally integrated into existing systems and platforms.

The JSAF is designed to adapt to rapidly changing future threat capabilities through software exploitation rather than by more costly hardware alterations and upgrades. The program is divided into a low band subsystem (LBSS) and a high band subsystem (HBSS). The system design relies on commercial off-the-shelf software and hardware to increase affordability.

As prime contractor for the JSAF High Band Subsystem [HBSS] Prototype, TRW is developing the next generation airborne SIGINT sensor suite upgrade that will satisfy joint service needs well into the next century. Today's development solves current deficiencies and provides the architectural foundation for the future. The JSAF High Band Prototype system locates, identifies, and exploits the intelligence value of non-communications and special communications emitters. Implementing the Joint Airborne SIGINT Architecture (JASA), it provides interservice interoperability and commonality to meet worldwide warfighter requirements. High Band Sub-System (HBSS) Upgrades install upgrades to the RIVET JOINT's high band antennas, RF distribution network, and software to intercept, exploit, and report on modern modulation and low probability of detection communications and radar signals. Permit the collection of signals in the presence of co-channel interfering signals. Provide interoperability between primary DOD airborne collection platforms, establishing the infrastructure to support near-real-time exchange of information for rapid signal geolocation and targeting. Provide compliance with DOD directed Joint Airborne SIGINT Architecture (JASA)

The prime contractor for the JSAF Low Band Subsystem [LBSS] is Sanders, which on 27 November 2000 was sold by Lockheed Martin Company to BAE SYSTEMS North America. LBSS is one element of a multi-phase, multi-contractor, evolutionary acquisition program. The objective is to develop an interoperable, supportable, platform independent, modular, miniaturized, open architecture system with reconfigurable hardware and software that will meet multiple mission scenarios, and multiple (and dissimilar platform) applications. The system is to be capable of operational UAV deployment by 2010. The LBSS includes an Advanced Tuner Packaging with up to 4:1 more bandwidth per box over prior systems. The High Speed IF Processing provides up to 10:1 throughput improvement. LBSS is scalable, and configured with chassis and cards to meet platform needs. The RIVET JOINT High Frequency (HF) Direction Finding (DF) System installs a ten element HF array antenna on RIVET JOINT to provide HF DF capability. Upgrades the Joint SIGINT Avionics Family (JSAF) LowBand SubSystem (LBSS) receiver to process HF DF. The previous RIVET JOINT HF capability was limited to a long wire antenna. This configuration supports signal reception, but not HF DF. The aircraft is tasked to perform search, classification, collection, and DF of all militarily significant signals. This tasking includes signals in the HF band. Without HF DF, the aircraft will continue to have no DF capability in this increasingly significant frequency band. A ten element HF antenna array, and receiver upgrades are needed to perform HF DF operations.

Initial system implementation is planned for completion in fiscal year 2007. As of 1998 there were four platforms scheduled to receive either the LBSS, the HBSS, or both. The Air force plans to install JSAF on two platforms, the RC-135 Rivet Joint and the Air Force special platform. There are 16 of each of the two platforms in the Air Force. The navy plans to install JSAF on its EP-3E aircraft. The Navy maintains 12 EP-3E platforms. The Army plans to install JSAF on nine Airborne Reconnaissance Low (ARL) aircraft for a total of 53 manned platforms. Under the 1998 plan, the Air Force special platform will be the only aircraft equipped with the LBSS and the HBSS.

The 1998 LBSS/HBSS production schedule (including development units) is as follows:

                                           Fiscal years--                    
                    2000   2001   2002   2003   2004   2005   2006   2007
    LBSS  .......  \1\ 3      9     10     10      9      7      4      1
    HBSS  .......  \1\ 1      3      3      3      3      3      1  .....
    \1\ Developmental units. 

In an effort to expedite delivery of this capability, the Committee reviewed as accelerated production effort that would not increase program risk. The Committee found that the delivery schedule could be accelerated by up to three years in the case of the Air Force special platform, and two years with other platforms, by requiring that platforms be equipped with JSAF components at their next depot maintenance (PDM).

Under the 1998 plan, both low and high band subsystems begin delivery to the services in fiscal year 2001 and conclude delivery in fiscal year 2007. During this period, some aircraft will go through a PDM cycle and not have the new component installed even though the components could be readily available. Maintaining these older systems when they could be replaced will increase support costs. An accelerated delivery schedule consistent with platform PDM schedules would be as follows:

                                                 Fiscal years--             
                                     2000   2001   2002   2003   2004   2005
    LBSS..........................  \1\ 3     10     14     14      7      5
    HBSS..........................  \1\ 1      4  .....      6  .....      6
    \1\ Developmental units.                                                

The accelerated schedule does not increase risk and has no budgetary impact in fiscal year 1999. It requires that funding be accelerated in fiscal years 2000 through 2003 over current plans. The accelerated schedule not only delivers capability faster, but also saves $44 million in initial JSAF costs over the current acquisition plan. The alternative funding profile would be as follows:

                                                [In millions of dollars] 
                                                       Fiscal years--                 
                       Prior  ---------------------------------------    TC      Total 
                         yrs.   2000    2001    2002    2003    2004                    
    Baseline  .......   34.6    24.1   192.0   173.5   164.1   105.4     152.4    846.1
    Acclerated  .....   34.6    29.7   212.1   238.4   218.5    42.9      25.9    802.1
    Delta  ..........      0    +5.6   +20.1   +64.9   +54.4   -62.5    -126.5    -44.0

The Senate Intelligence Committee recommended that the Department of Defense adopt an accelerated JSAF acquisition strategy consistent with the earliest platform availability for PDM schedules.

The proposed fiscal year 2001 budget includes $17.0 million in Air Force procurement funding for the purchase of one Joint SIGINT Avionics Family (JSAF) High Band Subsystem (HBSS)/Low Band Subsystem (LBSS) unit. The proposed funding was insufficient to purchase the appropriate spares, aircraft cabling, antennas, and installation needed to field the first operational JSAF system on the U-2S aircraft. The JSAF procurement plan was to procure one U 2 JSAF unit in fiscal year 2002 and two JSAF units in each of the next five years. This funding plan failed to take advantage of economics of scale associated with higher production rates, delayed fielding the JSAF capability in the U-2 fleet, and will not support the stated goal of maintaining 11 sensors (a combination of RAS 1R and JSAF) by the end of 2004 when aircraft in the fleet will no longer be flown. The Air Force deploys the U 2 aircraft in detachments of three planes to their forward operating bases, and the requirement is to have no fewer than two of the three aircraft carrying the JSAF.

Therefore, in 2000 the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence recommended an addition of $52.0 million in Air Force procurement funding to the JSAF program: (1) $8.0 million to fully fund the first JSAF unit with appropriate antennas, spares and installation on the U-2; and (2) $44.0 million to procure two additional units to take advantage of economies of scale and to provide sufficient units for fielding a complete detachment of three U-2 aircraft.

On 01 December 2000 the Airborne Sensors and Data Links Division of the Reconnaissance System Program Office announced that it intended to acquire a second Highband Subsystem (HBSS) Demonstration Unit for testing and evaluation under its Joint SIGINT Avionics Family (JSAF) program. This second system will incorporate the technological upgrades necessary to counteract the issues of vanishing vendors and parts obsolescence and will establish the appropriate configuration for production and multi-platform application. As this effort continues the development of this highly specialized equipment, the Government intends to solicit and negotiate with only the original developer of the HBSS (TRW, Electromagnetic Systems Laboratory).

JSAF had been divided into two programs, low-band and high-band, and split between two companies -- TRW and Sanders (now BAE Systems). TRW's high-band effort, the segment dedicated to finding enemy high-frequency radar signals, is successful and will survive in a follow-on program. The system is necessary to find and track higher frequency radars used by new, sophisticated antiaircraft defenses. The low-band effort, a BAE Systems program aimed at communications intercept and identifying low-frequency radar that could threaten stealth aircraft, was canceled for convenience by the Air Force in November 2001. Now the joint project is dead.

SIGINT development is expected to continue, but no one knows yet which services will choose to participate. The Air Force will continue with high-band development, and Global Hawk [unmanned aircraft] will carry the program. The system was intended to upgrade Global Hawk, RC-135 Rivet Joint, U-2 and EP-3 reconnaissance aircraft. Competitors for replacing the low-band system are already waiting in the wings. First in line, with a version of an existing system, is Raytheon with the RAS-1R that is used by the U-2 for both high- and low-band operations. Critics say it is already an upgrade of the RAS-1A and would need upgrading again to address modern radars associated with the Russian-built SA-10, SA-12 and SA-20 anti-aircraft missile systems as well as older systems like the SA-2 and SA-3 that have been upgraded with modern radars. Also in the lineup is TRW. Its high-band system exists as a development unit, but the company was working with Sanders to provide an integrated high-band/low-band product.

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Page last modified: 28-07-2011 00:49:46 ZULU