Northrop Grumman has been awarded a contract for the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase of the US Air Force's (USAF) Air Operations Center Weapon System (AOC-WS) modernisation programme.
Valued at $81m, the contract represents an option under the contract first announced in March 2012, and follows Milestone B approval from the US Department of Defense (DOD) in October 2013.
The EMD phase covers completion of detailed design, formal testing and deployment of the modernised system to geographic AOCs.
Northrop Grumman Information Systems defense systems division vice-president and general manager Mike Twyman said the Milestone B represents an important DOD endorsement for the acquisition strategy of the AOC WS modernisation programme.
"We look forward to continued collaboration with the Air Force to realise the affordability benefits and a fully integrated, evolvable net-centric capability," Twyman said.
Key programme activities for 2014 include completion of the critical design review (CDR) and continuation of the series of warfighter analysis workshops for demonstration of the system to operational users, and incorporation of their feedback for optimisation of system usability.
Working jointly with the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center and Hanscom Air Force Base, Northrop is upgrading the AOC through the development of a secure, streamlined computing environment for conventional and stove-piped systems.
The resulting common computing environment will lead to a reduction in manual information sharing between systems and a lowered information technology footprint, eventually reducing total ownership costs.
Expected to streamline integration of new applications, the AOC upgrade will also enable flexibility to provide modular, mission-tailorable capabilities to warfighters.
The AOC delivers core capability required by the Joint Force Air Component commander to plan, task and execute theatre-wide operations in the air, space and cyber domains.
Image: The USAF's Combined Air Operations Center at a forward-deployed location in south-west Asia. Photo courtesy of USAF Tech Sgt. Demetrius Lester.