Air Force considers major electronic upgrades to AWACS aircraft computers and sensors

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass., 10 April 2014. U.S. Air Force surveillance experts are surveying industry for enabling technologies that would improve the airborne moving target indication (AMTI) capabilities of the E-3 Airborne Warning & Control Systems (AWACS) aircraft.

Officials of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., have issued a request for information (BMC2-AMTI_RFI_20140402) for the Airborne BM/C2-AMTI Early Systems Engineering Effort, which involves avionics and electronics upgrades.

This initiative seeks to find enabling technologies in industry that would improve the AMTI and battle management/command and control capabilities of the AWACS aircraft -- a converted Boeing 707 jetliner that the Air Force uses for all-weather surveillance, command, control and communications, as well as for long-range airborne radar surveillance with its distinctive rotating radar dome above the fuselage.

Air Force officials are looking for technologies to help the AWACS perform AMTI and BM-C2 missions at lower cost, lower risk, and with improved capability, as well as to enable the AWACS to perform these missions amid enemy countermeasures like electronic jamming and fighter aircraft patrols.

Related: Avionics: ahead of the curve

The BM/C2-AMTI project seeks to upgrade AWACS onboard electronics with new subsystems or complete system replacements. Air Force experts particularly are interested in distributed and centralized assets; manned or unmanned vehicles; and one or more domains involving space, air, ground, and maritime.

Desired technologies should address survivability, sustainability, maintainability, and technical maturity beyond the year 2030. Concepts should address architecture information such as system-to-system interfaces and communications to include the primary types of information exchange.

For this project Air Force officials say "out-of-the-box" thinking is highly encouraged.

BM/C2 AMTI refers to exploiting near-real-time information, to manage airborne assets, and to conduct wide area surveillance. Functions include sensor management, data processing, information display, and secure encrypted communications that enable the AWACS aircraft to find, fix, track, target, engage, and assess (F2T2EA) air targets.

Related: ViaSat and Data Link Solutions get orders for MIDS-LVT situational-awareness data terminals

Technologies of interest include sensors, communication and network systems, computer, command and control visualizations, and man-machine interfaces. The capabilities need to support a future battlespace-awareness system that includes a common operational picture to allow battle managers to direct and cue assets such as surveillance and combat aircraft.

Air Force officials are looking for innovative BM/C2 AMTI concepts such as Defensive counter air (DCA);offensive counter air (OCA); strike missions; combat air patrols (CAP); OCA and DCA sweep; intercept; escort; suppression of enemy air defenses; active and passive electronic support missions (ESM); forward air control; close air support (CAS); reconnaissance and battle damage assessment; and anti-ship/maritime patrol missions.

The concepts should provide a means to accomplish these missions at lower cost, lower risk, and with improved capability to enable operations in an Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) environment. Those responding should address next-generation AMTI sensors able to perform advanced detection functions with improved size, weight, and power (SWaP), while taking advantage of new technologies.

Responders also should address detection of low observable targets; extended threat detection range and engage on remote; reduced time to close the kill chain loop from detection to engagement; combat identification (cooperative and non-cooperative) to support strategic and tactical decision superiority; and passive detection of surface emitters.

Related: Research initiatives pumping new life into phased-array radar

Key technical characteristics include monostatic, bistatic or multistatic concepts yielding agile, high sensitivity detection systems; advanced apertures with multibeam and multifrequency capabilities with software-defined frequency and phase scanning; advanced transmit and receive beam forming techniques; electronic protection against advanced electronic attack; and battle management.

Battle-management capabilities of interest include continuous air track surveillance, target and combat identification, battle damage assessment, and adaptive time critical targeting; blue force tracking and electronic identification; employment of weapons at optimal ranges, speeds, and altitudes; ability to identify, adapt to, and counter emerging threats; and open-architecture computers and software for collaborative databases within distributed, secure, encrypted, and anti-jam peer-to-peer networks.

Other battle-management capabilities should involve mission computing software support for information assurance, machine-to-machine interfaces for network-centric collaborative targeting; automated battle-management tools; filterable and configurable situational awareness; and improved information gathering.

Command-and-control systems may be centralized or distributed, and must be able to interoperate with the AF airborne network, the Army LandWarNet, the Navy FORCENet and with coalition partners.

Related: Relaxed AWACS temperature rules pave way for more COTS computers

Command and control should be able to access to a global net-centric environment with multi-level security; have beyond line of sight data solutions; offer voice and data communications; work together with advanced tactical data links; and have capability for rapid discovery/network joining, node authentication, and efficient network topology management.

Enabling technologies might include cognitive radio technologies that allow for dynamic spectrum access and can sense and learn the electro-magnetic environment to operate effectively and counter communication threats such as digital radio frequency memory (DRFM) jamming.

Email responses no later than 19 May 2014 to the Air Force's Bret Kreh at and Harvey Tobin at Email Kreh or Tobin for questions or concerns.

More information is online at

Get All the Military Aerospace Electronics News Delivered to Your Inbox or Your Mailbox

Subscribe to Military Aerospace Electronics Magazine or email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest information on:

  • C4ISR
  • Cyber Security
  • Embedded Computing
  • Unmanned Vehicles

Military & Aerospace Photos

Most Popular Articles

Related Products

Custom and OEM Camera Design

We provide custom designs for both modifications to existing systems and development of new produ...

Nano-D Bi-Lobes® Connectors Dual Row Horizontal SMT (Type AA)

Horizontal SMT Bi-Lobe® nanos offer an extremely low profile package that is well suited to pick ...

Hybrid Micro-D Connectors

Omnetics high reliability Micro-D connectors are available withmixed power/signal contact layouts...

Nano-D BiLobe® Connectors -(COTS)

Sizes are 9, 15, 21, 25, 31, 37 , 51 & 65 pin, at .025 Mil. Pitch(Currently Available), mating pi...

Micro-D Connectors

Highly rugged and compact designs in shell styles from 9 to 51 contacts. The Micro-D connectors i...

Omnetics Nano-D Bi-Lobe® Latching Connectors

Bi-Lobe® connectors utilize rugged and reliable flex pin contact system. Spaced on 25 mil (.64mm)...

Latching Micro-D Connectors

Omnetics high reliability Micro-D connectors are available with Quick Latch System. For applicati...

XPedite7575 | 5th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 Broadwell-H Processor-Based Conduction- or Air-Cooled 3U VPX-REDI Module

The XPedite7575 is a high-performance, 3U VPX-REDI, single board computer based on the 5th genera...

XTend7103 | COM Express® Carrier for COM Express® Type 10 Mezzanine Modules

The XTend7103 is a COM Express® carrier card designed to provide a low-cost and compact platform ...

XPort6173 | 3U VPX Carrier for Two 2.5 in. Solid-State Drives (SSDs)

The XPort6173 supports two, standard, 2.5 in. Solid-State Drives (SSDs) in a single 0.8 in. or 1....

Related Companies

Interface Displays & Controls Inc

Certified ISO-9001/AS9100, veteran-owned, small business. Interface specializes in designing, reverse-engineering and...

Southwest Antennas

Designs and manufactures high-performance RF and Microwave antennas and accessories designed for today’s communicatio...

Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions

About Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions (CWDS) is a long established techno...

Omnetics Connector Corp

Omnetics Connector Corporation – Micro and Nano Connectors and Interconnect Systems for Military & Aerospa...

United Electronic Industries Inc

UEI is a leader in the PC/Ethernet data acquisition and control, Data Logger/Recorder and Programmable Automation Con...

GE Aviation Systems

Designs and manufactures high reliability microelectronics for aerospace and military applications. Thick film hybrid...

Cobham AvComm (formerly Aeroflex Test Solutions)

Is a global leader in avionics, communications, and synthetic test, monitoring, and control for commercial, governmen...

Astronics Ballard Technology

Manufactures avionics databus interfaces, embedded computers, and software for aerospace, military and commercial use...

KAMAKA Electronic Bauelemente Vertriebs GmbH

One of the leading Hi-Rel suppliers in Central Europe for more than 23 years. The quality of our products and the tec...

Fabritech Inc

Fabritech was established in 1986 and specializes in the fabrication of EMI, RFI, and thermal shielded products made ...


The Intel Xeon-D processor and its role in high-performance embedded computing (HPEC)

The rugged Intel Xeon-D server-class multicore microprocessor is set to revolutionize high-performance embedded computing. By itself, the processor will bring unprecedented power to embedded computing applic...

Harsh Environment Protection for Advanced Electronics and Components

This webinar will offer an opportunity to learn more about ultra-thin Parylene conformal coatings – how they are applied, applications they protect today, and the properties and benefits they offer, includin...

Press Releases


Curtiss-Wright Corporation today announced that its Defense Solutions division has received a contract from Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) to supply its small form factor ...

Innovative Integration Announces the FMC-Servo

Camarillo, CA June 19, 2015, Innovative Integration, a trusted supplier of signal processing and data acquisition hardware and software solutions, today announced the FMC-S...


Curtiss-Wright Corporation today announced that its Defense Solutions division has further enhanced its innovative VRD1 high definition (HD) video management system (VMS) w...

All Access Sponsors

Mil & Aero Magazine

August 2015
Volume 26, Issue 8

Download Our Apps




Follow Us On...


Military & Aerospace Electronics

Weekly newsletter covering technical content, breaking news and product information

Cyber Security

Monthly newsletter covering cyber warfare, cyber security, information warfare, and information security technologies, products, contracts, and procurement opportunities

Defense Executive

Monthly newsletter covering business news and strategic insights for executive managers

Electronic Warfare

Quarterly newsletter covering technologies and applications in electronic warfare, cyber warfare, optical warfare, and spectrum warfare.

Embedded Computing Report

Monthly newsletter covering news on embedded computing in aerospace, defense and industrial-rugged applications

Unmanned Vehicles

Monthly newsletter covering news updates for designers of unmanned vehicles