August 2004 
Volume 03, Issue 4 
Integrated Defense Systems

All the INFORMATION wherever you are

New Boeing Integration Center East showcases NCO


Nancy Showalter operates a display console during a battlefield simulationMore than two dozen reporters from major broadcast and print media outlets gathered at three Boeing sites June 29 for a first-hand look at the power and potential of network-centric operations. What they saw was a multiscreen, multisite, multiplatform demonstration of the networks and tools Boeing uses to model, simulate, and test NCO concepts, programs and solutions.

The event also introduced reporters to the new Boeing Integration Center East in Crystal City, Va.

“Boeing has invested significantly in the Integration Center, in networking tools and the various battle laboratories we have across the country,” IDS President and CEO Jim Albaugh said at the event, which also was broadcast via video teleconference over the Boeing Intranet. “Using these capabilities, we’re going to create an information-rich environment to demonstrate how we are working with our customers to understand the power of a network-centric approach to the battlefield.”

In addition to BIC East, reporters also gathered for the demonstration at the BIC West in Anaheim, Calif., which acted as the “command and control” hub, and the Center for Integrated Defense Simulations in St. Louis, where pilots flying in an F/A-18 flight simulator sent realistic mission data over the network. The tour also was highlighted by a live video teleconference link to Connexion by Boeing President Scott Carson aboard the Connexion One aircraft flying 12,000 feet above Washington’s Cascade Mountains.

“In the 20th century it was about who had the most tanks, the most ships and the most planes,” Albaugh said. “But in the 21st century it will be about the power of a network: who can see first, who can understand first, and who can act first. In the future it will be about knowledge: who can take data, convert that data to information, turn the information into knowledge and based on that knowledge, take action. It will require the integration of the different assets you have in space, in the air and on the ground.”

The virtual tour kicked off from the new 13,000-square-foot BIC East facility before transitioning to the BIC West, which operated as the event command-and-control node. Both BIC facilities then engaged in a collaborative attack simulation to show how a commander can access additional weaponry and battlefield data in a matter of seconds via a mobile network that is not dependent on terrestrial infrastructure. Even though one commander was at BIC East and the other commander was 2,500 miles away at the BIC in Anaheim, the network tied them together and enabled them to collaborate in real time to create the desired result.

Did they get it?

Here’s a selection of media comments after Boeing’s June 29 Network-Centric Operations demonstration.

“‘Net-centric operations’ allow ground forces to communicate through a computer web with airborne and other units. The technology enables front-line troops and commanders in the rear to get a true picture of the battlefield and shortens response time. Boeing recently offered reporters access to a usually classified facility in suburban Virginia, where the company offered a 90-minute demonstration .... In the series of simulated exercises, aircraft—F/A-18s, F-15s, EA-18s, unmanned aerial vehicles, command-and-control planes, tilt-motor V-22s, Apache and CH-47 helicopters—ground commanders, shipborne commanders and others were linked for simulated attacks, defense against attacks and extraction of troops caught behind enemy lines.”
—Associated Press, in a story repeated by more than 40 media outlets in July 2004

“The exercise provided a rare glimpse inside Boeing’s combat-simulation center as executives at the defense contractor showcased a network that allows its military customers to simulate future combat scenarios. The system also can show how complex electronic systems will work in combat.”
—St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 30, 2004

“Boeing opened its U.S. East Coast integration center last week, the latest product of a five-year effort to show the value and potential of network-centric operations and warfare. Carl O’Berry, who is leading Boeing’s strategic architecture organization, said the tradition-breaking aspect of the facility was demonstrating how kill chains can be built in real-time and then changed in milliseconds by commanders who then, at a moment’s notice, take the combat assets of other commanders and fight with them.”
—Aviation Week & Space Technology, July 5, 2004

“With the formal opening of Boeing’s eastern integration center in Arlington, Va., yesterday, the company is proceeding along a path where it is trying to bring the core competencies of its many sectors into a manageable networked environment.”
—Defense Daily, June 30, 2004

“Boeing gave a demonstration for journalists to show how networked communications enable military hardware, such as the F/A-18 fighter aircraft, the F-15 Eagle Tactical fighter, the Airborne Warning and Control System and the Apache helicopter, to exchange data and images while in flight. Similar demonstrations are used to market new technologies to government decision makers, to educate Boeing employees and those of partner companies, and as a recruitment tool to help Boeing hire engineers.”
—Orange County (Calif.) Register, June 30, 2004





Next came simulations from St. Louis of the F/A-18, EA-18G and F-15 and from Seattle of the Airborne Warning and Control System, Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft and Joint Unmanned Combat Air System. The virtual tour rounded out with stops at Boeing’s rotorcraft simulation laboratories in Mesa, where the AH-64 Apache participated, and in Philadelphia, with the V-22 Osprey and the CH-47 Chinook.

Speakers at each site drove home the message that NCO is a new way of operating—one that transcends platforms, systems, and geographic locations.

“In decades prior to this, soldiers carried into battle the information they were briefed on and some information they might get over a radio. The capabilities they had were really the capabilities they carried on their backs,” Albaugh said. “Today that same soldier, whether he is deployed in the Middle East or elsewhere, will have access to all the information being gathered within the battle space and will have the ability to access the capabilities of others, whether it be artillery commanded by another unit of action over the hill or the strike capability of an F/A-18 flying in from an aircraft carrier.”

Strategic Architecture Vice President Carl O’Berry explained the Boeing goal of achieving interoperability by “embedding the same potential DNA” into existing and future platforms so that each of them is able to become a node on a network.

“The capability that you own is less important, in the context of what we are talking about, than being networked with other capabilities,” O’Berry said. “We’re talking about increasing your ability to deal with an increasingly complex world by allowing a network to bring you better options and more timely information.”

Each stop, or node, in the network tour supplied data and imagery that progressively built on the previous leg of the tour. The result was a compelling demonstration of how Boeing technology enables the transformation of stand-alone facilities into intelligent nodes on a network—a network whose strength and utility expands exponentially as it is populated with more user nodes.

“Almost anything can be a communications device, anything that’s got a battery in it, and that changes the way you look at networks and connecting things together,” O’Berry said. “When it’s not being used for something else, then you can punch packets [of data] through there.”

With participation from Connexion by Boeing, the demonstration moved beyond military systems into the realm of commercial applications.

“What we call the ‘e-enabled’ advantage, which is really NCO in a commercial sense, is aimed at improving the economics of our airline customers and helping passengers better spend their time in the air,” Carson said. “It’s all done in an effort to connect passengers to the information they need to use their time more effectively.”

Carl O’Berry
“The capability that you own is less important ... than being networked with other capabilities.”

—Strategic Architecture Vice President Carl O’Berry, during a June 29 NCO demonstration





The Strategic Architecture organization created and managed the event, drawing on the work and skill of more than 100 IDS, Phantom Works, Connexion by Boeing and Shared Services Group engineers and support personnel across the country. The demonstration required the simultaneous use of two major networks, the Boeing Enterprise Network and LabNet, a nationwide web of fiber-optic paths that enables Boeing and government simulation facilities to work together to develop collaborative strike-warfare concepts. The Connexion by Boeing segment added yet a third type of input—ISDN, or digital telephone service—that also was converted to a packeted network signal and broadcast to all networked sites.

The demonstration created the “first capability of a ‘publish-and-subscribe’ network,” said Dave Manser, event project manager for the Strategic Architecture organization. In such a network, information that is posted (published) on a network is pushed out to recipients (subscribers) according to the network’s understanding of each recipient’s unique needs and preferences.

“Most people would try some sort of ‘publish and subscribe’ with only one application—for example, one command-and-control display from one site that remote viewers could see via broadcast. What we did was use approximately 20 different high-end displays sent out across LabNet simultaneously,” Manser said.

“The content across the network was so much higher than what people normally see on Web sites or the small streaming video they normally see on personal computers. We had everything from an F/A-18 cockpit simulator—whose software was physically in Anaheim—being driven by a pilot in the domed simulator in St Louis, to state-of-the-art tactical mission displays that could be enlarged onto a 12-foot-by-12-foot screen with no loss in video resolution.”

“What we’re trying to do is portray an environment that shows what the potential of the technology is,” O’Berry said. “We’re trying to behave internally in Boeing according to the dictates of a net-centric proposition, and show the customer what the potential is for this technology if he really brings it to bear.”


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