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C2 Constellation

The Air Force's contribution to the overarching concept for warfighting operations is the C2 Constellation - the Air Force's components to the Global Information Grid [GIG]. The C2 Constellation is a family of C4ISR systems sharing horizontally and vertically integrated information through machine-to-machine conversations enabled by a peer-based network of sensors, command centers and shooters. Both an operational construct and an architectural framework, it guides our development of people, processes and technology toward network-centric operations.

Key network-centric operation elements of the C2 Constellation include the various platforms and sensors the Air Force provides to the Joint Force Commander and key programs that support command centers such as the Air and Space Operations Center and the Distributed Common Ground Segment. Underpinning programs within the AOC, such as the Theater Battle Management Core System already serve as the joint standard for air operations planning and execution, and we are continuing to migrate these systems to a more modern, web-enabled architecture.

The Air Force provides transport and computing layer components of the overall DoD GIG through Constellation Net, the communications network-air, space, and terrestrial-that facilitates free flow of information, rapidly accessible to our warfighters. The Air Force portion of GIG Bandwidth Expansion provides expanded terrestrial service at key Air Force bases globally. The Joint Tactical Radio System is essential to our vision for an improved airborne network, which expands genuine network operations to the airborne platforms. With the installation of Family of Advanced Beyond line of sight Terminals on additional aircraft, such as AWACS, JSTARS and Global Hawk, we will have the capability to extend our airborne network to all reaches of the globe. Finally, the Air Force is responsible for a large portion of the space segment communication evolution, including deployment of the Advanced EHF, Wideband Gapfiller System and the Transformational Satellite program.

In meeting the challenges of the DoD GIG, the Air Force, like the other services, is both contributing to and deriving planning from the architectural frameworks developed under the leadership of OSD and the Joint Staff. Starting with these joint architecture frameworks, we apply the activity models and technical standards to the components of the DoD system for which the Air Force is accountable.

The Air Force and the other services are taking the architectural and standards guidance issued by the DoD and applying it to shape decisions about programs and standards even at the service level. Applying the data standards from DoD, the Services developed and sent to the Joint Staff a message standard, which transforms Link 16 messaging standard to Extensible Markup Language. Drawing from lessons learned in the JTRS Cluster 1, and recognizing the benefits of common software and hardware components, the Navy and Air Force acquisition executives proposed combining the JTRS Cluster 3 and 4 development effort into one program.

Early discussion of architecture and network-centric requirements are driving early direction and management decisions for key programs at the DoD level. Facing the need to re-capitalize its aging DCGS, the Air Force is working to eliminate stove-piped intelligence processes and bridge information divides between the Joint operational and intelligence communities through the Block 10.2 Multi-INT (multi-intelligence) Core. As part of this effort, the Air Force approach develops an open-architecture-based DCGS Integrated Backbone for the broader DoD DCGS modernization effort, designed to be inherently joint and interoperable. Formerly referred to as the Multi-Sensor Command and Control Constellation, or MC2C, in 2003 the concept underwent a name change, becoming simply the C2 Constellation. The Air Staff opted for the new name in part to avoid confusion some perceived between MC2C and MC2A, the Multi-Sensor Command and Control Aircraft. The constellation itself represents the effort to fulfill a vision put forth by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John P. Jumper. He wants to see a fully connected array of land-, platform- and space-based sensors that use common standards and communication protocols to relay information automatically in what he refers to as machine-to-machine interfaces The constellation is really a non-traditional management and program execution approach to providing vastly improved command, control, computers, communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to operators. Quarterly integration council review meetings, the first of which was held in December, are prime examples of this non-traditional approach. In these sessions, program managers don't demonstrate the standard "quad charts," which track cost, schedule and performance. Rather, they demonstrate the interaction between their nodes and others in the constellation. It isn't an aircraft, advanced radar or even a sophisticated software program - although all play key roles -- that will ultimately define the success of what is now referred to as the Command and Control, or C2, Constellation. Common standards, new business rules that stress openness, and a robust modeling and simulation effort are the main ingredients, according to the deputy C2 Constellation system program director. The RFPs will contain common contract language. This with full knowledge that their bid must fit in a constellation construct. That's where the new business rules come into play. By reducing proprietary coding and requiring contractors to "make open" the work they've done for the government, so that it can be shared and built upon, ESC hopes to increase efficiency and achieve true integration. Initially, ESC expects some contractors to balk at these new rules. This is difficult for industry because their intellectual property has been very lucrative. Sharing that property with other contractors tends to fly in the face of their bottom-line return on investment. Still, ESC doesn't intend to turn a deaf ear to contractor concerns. The Center is looking at ways of providing contract incentives for those who willingly agree to work this way. The C2 Constellation Program Office itself doesn't have as much money to spend as it originally expected. Anticipating about $100 million in Fiscal year '03, they received only about a fifth of that. Part of the reason for this was the inherent difficulty of explaining the need to fund something that is not, itself, a specific program. The constellation is very difficult to articulate. Nevertheless, the office has developed a plan. Part of the plan is to do much of the architecture development and systems engineering work, which would have been done on contract, in-house. The other part is to build on existing integration work already being done contractually for programs that make up the current nodes on the constellation. Part of the money that is available will also be spent on upgrading and continuing to test with the Paul Revere, the 707 testbed jointly operated by ESC and MIT's Lincoln Laboratory. The Paul Revere helps integrate air and ground battle management C2. Combined with the C2 Enterprise Integration Facility, which allows ESC to wring out a lot of connectivity and integration issues without the expense of flying, the Paul Revere lets us really test constellation concepts, especially in exercises such as JEFX.

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