Northrop Grumman has completed the third round of warfighter analysis workshops required for the US Air Force’s (USAF) air operations centre (AOC) weapon system (WS) modernisation programme.
Part of the AOC WS rapid development and prototyping process, the workshop collected early user feedback intended to accelerate the prototyping of the AOC weapon system, which is considered by the Department of Defense (DoD) as vital to national security.
During the workshop, the operators explored the dynamic targeting and airspace management mission threads while taking advantage of machine-to-machine automation and collaborative workflows present in the design.
The warfighter engagement early in the acquisition lifecycle leads to reduction in development costs by facilitating concepts evaluation before the system is complete, according to the company.
Northrop Grumman Information Systems Defense Systems division vice-president and general manager Mike Twyman said: "Early and continuous assessment from actual users is key to our successful delivery of an agile, flexible C2 system to meet evolving challenges and enable fifth-generation joint force concepts."
The company’s prototype AOC system had successfully demonstrated improved cyber protection and an automated cybersecurity tool set during a system security accreditation risk reduction event in June.
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Meanwhile, Northrop is installing the fourth prototype at the AOC WS integration and test laboratory, to prepare the system for additional capability demonstrations and feedback as part of the AOC WS programme’s pre-engineering and manufacturing development (Pre-EMD) phase, which it claims to be nearing completion on schedule and under budget.
The next programme phase, EMD, which is pending DoD Milestone B authorisation will include completion of detailed design, formal test and initial fielding of the system to geographic AOCs.
Carried out in collaboration with the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC), the programme seeks AOC upgrade through development of a secure, streamlined computing environment that will lead to a reduction in manual information sharing between systems and a lowered information technology footprint, eventually reducing total ownership costs.
Image: The Air Operations Center at Fort Bliss in Texas, US. Photo: courtesy of DoD by Tech Sgt James D Mossman, US Air Force.