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Joint Expeditionary Force Experiment '02 begins

by Chuck Paone
Electronic System Center Public Affairs

07/24/02 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. (AFPN) -- Within the Department of Defense, integration has become the paramount focus almost everywhere. The warfighting benefits of having systems work together and communicate automatically are clear, and so then is the challenge.

That's perhaps the prime reason Joint Expeditionary Force Experiment '02, is so important, said Col. Kevin Erickson, chief of experimentation and assessment for the Electronic Systems Center's command and control enterprise integration office.

"This is the integration event of the year," Erickson said.

JEFX '02 is actually not a single event but a process that has been going on since completion of the previous JEFX two years ago. It will culminate with a comprehensive joint exercise/experiment July 24 to August 8 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

The two weeks of activity will include hundreds of simulations and some live-flying exercises, all designed to test newer technologies considered likely candidates for improving battle management, Erickson said. Chief among the improvements hoped for are better connectivity among the services and a common operating picture that affords all decision makers access to the same information at the same time.

Erickson said that people could be misled by the term "experiment."

"This is really an exercise with embedded experiments," he said. "This isn't Thomas Edison trying to figure out what filament to use [in the light bulb]. It really is much more about integrating systems to provide better command and control capability for operators who need to make real-time combat decisions."

JEFX '02 concentrates on critical capabilities identified as priorities by operators.

"Three hundred and forty operators from the 12th Air Force and elsewhere, along with contractors and the acquisition team, have worked hand-in-hand to develop and refine systems and human procedures," said Lt. Col. Tracy Tynan, program manager for JEFX '02.

That JEFX team designed and constructed a state-of-the-art air operations center at Nellis that will be used for experimental purposes and will likely serve as the model for the next-generation Air Force AOC, said Col. Bradley Butler, ESC's deputy commander for C2 enterprise integration.

The integrated AOC includes 60 infrastructure systems and eight new initiative systems that are being tested. These systems will increase capability to produce and execute air tasking orders, manage intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets, and prosecute time critical targets.

"This is spiral development on a grand scale," Erickson said.

Spiral development delivers capabilities to operators quickly in increments, or spirals, allowing them to test them out and provide feedback that can then be incorporated into future increments. With JEFX, because operators and acquirers are working together, the process is accelerated and the results enhanced.

"The uniqueness of the spiral approach in JEFX is that you have total involvement with the warfighter from the very first step in the process through to the experiment and exercise," Tynan said.

Also, no system or segment is tested in a vacuum. The new technologies are being used in conjunction with one another, as well as with fielded systems. This allows the JEFX team to see what effect one might have on another and look for any interoperability problems.

The "J" in JEFX stands for joint, so system integration and interoperability is tested across the services, not just within the Air Force. With JEFX '02, this is truer than ever.

All services will be participating in force in the Joint Forces Command's Millennium Challenge '02, which is also being held at Nellis AFB.

"MC '02 is a major attempt at multiservice experimentation designed to provide a cohesive joint and interagency context for all of the services," Erickson said. MC '02 will encompass the Navy and Marine Corps' "Forward from the Sea" and "Ship to Objective Maneuver" concepts, Air Force expeditionary forces, Army interim brigade combat teams, and special operations initiatives.

This is a genuine opportunity to exercise joint collaboration and decision making while making use of, and experimenting with, the new technology initiatives, said Erickson.

"For instance, when a time critical target pops up, the Army, Navy and Air Force will all be presented with the same information, using the common operating picture, and will collaborate over the new, virtual information work space," Erickson said.

A bevy of other technologies and concepts will also undergo experimentation during the two-week event. Among them will be the so-called "Paul Revere," a 707 aircraft being used as a test bed for the eventual Multi-Sensor Command and Control Aircraft, or MC2A. The test bed will be flown at Nellis in support of time critical targeting efforts, demonstrating battle and ISR management capabilities.

The 707, which is owned by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Labs and resides here, is being used on an interim basis as the test bed for the MC2A until the Air Force is able to lease or purchase a 767 aircraft. The 767 wide-body airplane will ultimately be used for the MC2A, which is expected to take on and expand upon the roles of many existing airborne C2ISR assets, including joint surveillance target attack radar system and airborne warning and control system.

The Air Force Experimentation Office, which is part of the Air Force C2ISR center at Langley AFB, Va., is the Air Force's lead organization for JEFX. ESC is responsible for system integration, acquisition, modeling and simulation and hardware and software configuration.

That role is augmented by the operators who provide the requirements and the feedback that make the experimentation useful.

"This time, we have more user involvement than ever before, and that's great because they're the ones all of this is being done to support," Erickson said.



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