The U.S. Air Force has chosen 18 more companies to compete in developing the Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS), selections that bring the total number of participating firms to 46.

On May 29, the Air Force awarded 28 companies indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contracts with award ceilings of up to $950 million for Joint All-Domain Command-and Control (JADC2).

The Air Force has requested $3.3 billion for ABMS over five years.

ABMS, which the Air Force describes as the air and space “military Internet of Things,” is part of JADC2, an effort to build a cross-service digital architecture for multi-domain operations.

The IDIQ contract is divided into seven ABMS product categories: digital architecture, engineering and concepts; sensor integration; all-domain data; all-domain secure processing; all-domain connectivity; all-domain applications; and effects integration. The minimum award for each vendor is $1,000.

The 18 ABMS competitors just added include Accenture Federal Services LLC [ACN]; Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. [BLL]; Black River Systems; Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc. [BAH]; CAE USA Mission Solutions, Inc. [CAE]; CUBIC Corp.’s GATR Technologies, Inc. [CUB]; Global Air Logistics and Training, Inc.; Leidos, Inc. [LDOS]; Mercury Defense Systems, Inc. [MRCY]; Metron, Inc.; NetScout Systems Inc. [NTCT]; Octo Consulting Group, Inc.; Omni Fed, LLC; Rincon Research Corporation; Rise8, Inc.; Science Applications International Corporation [SAIC]; Strategic Mission Elements Inc.; and Wind River Systems, Inc. [WIND].

Air Force acquisition chief Will Roper said in a statement on July 2 that “just like the Internet of Things, our Air and Space Force platforms will only be as effective as the data they can access, machine-to-machine.

“ABMS will help create internet-like data sharing across our joint force to fight at internet speeds,” he said. “Rapid development and testing cycles are critical to fail, learn, and leap ahead of advancing threats.”

The 28 companies chosen by the Air Force on May 29 are Alion Science and Technology; Apogee Research; World Wide Technology; BAE Systems [BAESY]; Boeing Defense Systems [BA]; Borsetta; CACI International [CACI]; Chooch Intelligence Technologies; Collins Aerospace Co. [RTX]; Dell Technologies [DELL]; Fregata Systems; General Dynamics [GD]; Hellebore Consulting Group; Honeywell Aerospace [HON]; Immersive Wisdom; L3 Harris Technologies [LHX]; Lockheed Martin [LMT]; Northrop Grumman [NOC]; Palantir; Parsons Government Services [PSN]; Persistent Systems; Raytheon [RTX]; Securboration; Silvus Technologies; Simple Sense; Solid State Scientific; Viasat; and Wind Talker Innovations.

The House and Senate Armed Services Committees are proposing some restrictions on ABMS. The HASC version of the Fiscal 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, H. 6395, provides $216.8 million, $85.5 million less than requested by the Air Force. The House bill would continue an ongoing moratorium on retiring the Air Force’s E-8 Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) aircraft by Northrop Grumman until a comparable capability is identified and available. The HASC version of the measure also calls into question the Air Force’s planned divestment of Block 30 RQ-4 Global Hawks by Northrop Grumman in fiscal 2021 and caps ABMS spending at 50 percent until the committee receives assurance that the Air Force will not retire the Global Hawk, or that any replacement aircraft would be cheaper to operate; or a justification of the increased cost of an RQ-4 replacement; or certification from Air Force Gen. John Hyten, the chairman of the Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC), that any new platform to replace the Global Hawk would result in equal or greater capability for combatant commanders.

The SASC version of the Fiscal 2021 NDAA, S. 4049, authorizes the Air Force’s full request of $302.3 million for ABMS in fiscal 2021 but requires Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett to develop an analysis on the applicability of ABMS to the broader JADC2 efforts and requires the JROC to produce JADC2 requirements that the Air Force will meet.

SASC report language on the bill said that the committee “remains concerned regarding the progress of the ABMS effort and the speed at which the ground moving target indicator capability of the E-8 is being replaced.”

“Therefore, the committee recommends a provision that would require the Secretary of the Air Force to develop an analysis of current ground moving target indicator requirements across the combatant commands and the capability that the ABMS will require when fielded,” according to the report.

SASC also wants Barrett to submit an ABMS “bridge report” to the congressional defense committees by Jan. 1 to lay out a plan to improve Link 16 and its resilience “or create an alternative solution in terms of increased capacity, improved resilience, and techniques to reduce probability of detection.”

Last year, the Air Force established the Chief Architect Office, led by Preston Dunlap, to lead the ABMS effort. Last December, the Air Force participated in an “onramp” exercise for ABMS involving U.S. Northern Command.

“During this onramp, new commercial low earth orbiting satellites were integrated for high bandwidth communications and an F-22 and multi-Service F-35 aircraft shared data via a secure gateway relevant to a denied operating environment,” the Air Force said. “The next onramp, scheduled for the end of August (after being postponed by the COVID-19 outbreak), will respond to a simulated attack on U.S. space assets and involve three combatant commands: U.S. Space Command, U.S. Northern Command, and U.S. Strategic Command.  Another ABMS onramp scheduled for September will support U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and U.S. Space Command, connecting sensors and shooters in a geographic operational theater outside the U.S. for the first time.”