Air Force to upgrade intelligence system

U.S. Air Force leaders say they plan to upgrade their service's segment of the Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS) by integrating several different relatively old "stovepiped" intelligence systems into one global network-centric information, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) enterprise.

By J.R. Wilson

HANSCOM AFB, Mass. — U.S. Air Force leaders say they plan to upgrade their service's segment of the Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS) by integrating several different relatively old "stovepiped" intelligence systems into one global network-centric information, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) enterprise.

In addition, Air Force experts have modified their DCGS upgrade plan to incorporate requirements for the Navy DCGS 10.2 system and the DCGS Integration Backbone (DIB).

Requirements for the Air Force DCGS Block 10.2 Multi-INT Core upgrade, valued at $161.9 million, have not changed.

"This capability shall be designed and fielded using a maximum of unmodified commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS)/government-off-the-shelf (GOTS) hardware and software with the objective of not using contractor-developed software," according to the program objectives statement from the Air Force Electronic Systems Center.

DCGS is a system enabling ground stations in the continental United States to use several different sensors remotely — from satellites, to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or manned aircraft — in a battle theater anywhere in the world.

The DCGS defines an intelligence and interoperable reconnaissance infrastructure of imagery, signals, and other kinds of intelligence systems across the U.S. Department of Defense. It covers all airborne tasking, processing, exploitation, and dissemination capabilities and corrects deficiencies where several different systems are unable to pass or share information.

The DCGS must convert the voluminous amounts of data from space, air, and surface intelligence platforms into "decision superiority" by passing or sharing information among several different systems. All providers must be able to serve all users, yet not all DCGS elements will be able to receive and process data from all ISR platforms.

The DIB will provide the tools, standards, architecture, and documentation to achieve a Multi-INT, network-centric environment and the necessary framework and interoperability to accommodate individual components and networks.

The goal of that effort is to eliminate the proliferation of proprietary solutions and interfaces for TPED (tasking, processing, exploitation and dissemination) and TPPU (task post-process use) systems.

Proposals for the Air Force upgrade, with the Navy now fully incorporated, are now being taken; contract award is expected this summer. Leaders from the Army and Marine Corps also have DCGS efforts in progress, and are considering the DIB.

Among those competing for the upgrade are Raytheon's Intelligence and Information Systems business in Garland, Texas, and Lockheed Martin Management & Data Systems in Philadelphia.

Both companies, which are teamed in the effort, support operations at all DCGS sites and have been active in developing ISR technologies and modular architectures.

Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems in Baltimore leads another team of competitors, and is drawing on its previous experience with ISR and tactical electronic surveillance (TES) work for the Air Force and Navy.

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