Volume 04, Issue 6
|Integrated Defense Systems|
Capability through connections
Boeing works on Integrated Battlespace programs that better support warfighters
BY ERIK SIMONSEN
As a U.S. Air Force officer during Operation Desert Storm, George Muellner commanded the Joint Surveillance Target Attack System unit that flew every night of the war. The E-8 (707-300) Joint STARS aircraft were equipped with mission systems that provided both air and ground commanders with wide-area surveillance and downlink of targeting information.
Although Joint STARS proved to be the most decisive intelligence asset of the war, its effectiveness was reduced by the inability to get its information to the decision maker or the warfighter rapidly.
"Good intelligence that does not enable rapid and decisive decision making is of little value," said Muellner, now vice president and general manager of Air Force Systems for Boeing Integrated Defense Systems.
Boeing is working on technologies, products and programs that would permit these interconnections—which collectively are referred to as the Integrated Battlespace. A working Integrated Battlespace concept would flow down information acquired from national, military and commercial reconnaissance and surveillance assets through a robust communications network involving space, airborne and ground-based assets. This network would provide global situational awareness to all warfighters and enable decision makers to rapidly determine and communicate a course of action to the appropriate armed forces.
"The objective is to assess the situation and act more quickly than your adversary is able to do," Muellner said.
Creation of a connected environment has been accelerated through the use of Boeing Integration Centers/Labs, simulation labs and Virtual Warfare Centers. The facilities can operate independently or can be linked as required. In addition to the labs, Boeing is using a "best of industry" approach by employing common architectures across systems engineered for interoperability and interdependency. This was a successful strategy in winning the U.S. Army's Future Combat Systems program, where Boeing brought in the best options from industry and competed them. Boeing also is working with the U.S. Navy on the transformational program FORCENet, and with the Air Force on ConstellationNet.
To facilitate this transformation, Boeing is developing the following programs:
In addition, Boeing is one of two teams, each under a $514 million contract to develop a system design and demonstrate critical technologies for Transformational SATCOM Space Segment. Considered to be the hallmark of transformational programs, TSAT SS will provide survivable, protected, high-capacity-Internet-like connectivity for the Defense Department, civil users, and the intelligence community. Boeing representatives said they believe the company is well positioned for the TSAT SS downselect, scheduled for 2006.
Achieving the Integrated Battlespace is not necessarily limited to developing new programs. Muellner said Boeing is "providing upgrade paths" to make existing platforms into key elements of the Integrated Battlespace—and, ultimately, "get inside our adversary's process with decisive action."
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