The Air Force’s next Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) technology demo may have been pushed back two months due to COVID-19-related precautions, but the service may use some of the systems in development to help its personnel work while sheltered-in-place.
The service is working hard to ensure its acquisition programs remain on track even as many workers are telecommuting to keep the COVID-19 coronavirus from spreading. But difficulties rise when it comes to acquisition workers who must operate in a Sensitive Compartmentalized Information Facility (SCIF) to get their work done, said Will Roper, Air Force assistant secretary for acquisition, technology and logistics in a March 27 media call.
“We’re working very aggressively on a distributed ‘Secret’-level communication system. We’ve pulled this work out of our Advanced Battle Management System Program,” he said.
A new system called “DeviceONE” was going to be tested in the April demonstration as a possible means to view secret-level data collected by airborne and space sensors and push it to handheld devices – dubbed “tabletONE” and “phoneONE” – in a secure, National Security Agency-approved fashion.
The April demo has been pushed to June as DoD personnel are restricted from non “mission-essential” travel until May 11 (Defense Daily, March 17). But the Air Force is now looking to purchase thousands of those devices at scale as a potential solution, Roper said.
“If we need to classify work and distribute it, if that becomes necessary, where we can’t have people going in to check their secret-level communication systems, then we have a fallback that we can work at multiple classification levels,” he said.
The service has not seen any delays to its acquisition program schedules to date, but Roper said he is closely watching ongoing state-level guidance for shelter-in-place and other restrictions that could keep more personnel at home.
“We’re thinking ahead, managing programs, so in the long term, [restrictions] don’t have impacts,” he said.
In the meantime before the June demonstration, the Air Force is planning to further develop a series of ABMS-related technologies across three main areas: domain awareness, JADC2, and defeat mechanisms.
The service is working to improve integration with several cross-domain sensors such as over-the-horizon radars, unattended ground sensors, and moving target indication capability, to service the ABMS product lines such as tabletONE and deviceONE, a spokesman said in a March 25 email to Defense Daily.
Additionally, “We’re excited about the rapidly maturing defeat capabilities such as Hypervelocity Gun Weapon System and emerging directed energy capabilities that we hope to include in ABMS demo #2 as defeat capabilities,” the spokesman said.
The additional time will also allow for more detailed integration analysis and modeling, which will then be used to predict performance, then compare the modeled results to real results from the demonstration.