The U.S. Air Force is seeking industry input on a possible Multi-Band, Multifunction Tactical Radar System (MB-MTRS) for Air Traffic Control (ATC) and ad hoc air strip/air base defense under the service’s Agile Combat Employment (ACE) concept.

“The Department of Defense (DoD) transformation vision relies heavily on more expeditionary and agile joint forces which in turn places increased emphasis on aviation assets for deployment, employment, sustainment, and redeployment,” per an Oct. 5 request for information (RFI) by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center digital directorate’s global air traffic systems branch at Hanscom AFB, Mass.

“Future ATC systems adaptability is critical to meet short and enduring missions,” the RFI said. “The MB-MTRS shall detect airborne targets and produce data for varied systems to enable timely and relevant Battle Management Command and Control (BMC2) actions (Air Traffic and Airspace Control) and defensive decisions against threats.  The MB-MTRS shall provide the scalable sensor coverage for rapid decision-making and improve situational awareness needed to support Adaptive Operations in Contested Environments (AOiCE).”

Future ATC systems may also have to account for unmanned airlifters–smaller than the Lockheed Martin [LMT] C-130–that Pacific Air Forces Commander Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach has said could be a part of the future force mix, as that unmanned platform could contribute to ACE in supplying isolated locations with specialist maintenance personnel and parts, such as engines and line replaceable units (Defense Daily, March 14).

In addition to the possible MB-MTRS, the Air Force wants its Boeing [BA] E-3 AWACS replacement, which now looks to be the Boeing E-7 Wedgetail, to be able to conduct at least six battle management and control (BMC2) missions simultaneously, including ATC, offensive counter air, defensive counter air, close air support, suppression of enemy air defenses, air refueling, and combat search and rescue.

The MB-MTRS, which is to be deployable from a C-130J, is to feature “ATC surveillance enabling aircraft identification, separation, and sequencing in a terminal environment in both instrument flight and visual flight rule operations”; BMC2 surveillance “enabling the detection, identification, classification, and tracking of hostile undeclared manned and unmanned aircraft”; and counter-small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (C-sUAS) surveillance “enabling the detection of Group 1 (0-20 lbs.) and Group 2 (21-55 lbs.) sUAS in flight,” per the MB-MTRS RFI.

Industry responses to the MB-MTRS RFI are due by Nov. 18.