Air Force to expand software reuse project

The Air Force awarded late last month contracts to Hughes Aircraft Co. Raytheon Co. and TRW Inc. under a $500 million program that could dramatically reduce the cost and development time of major command and control software programs.

The four-year Command and Control Product Line (CCPL) program run by the Electronic Systems Center will expand the department's initiative for taking software code developed for one project and later using it in future development efforts.

By building on an existing library of reusable software code - generally called "assets" - the CCPL contractors eventually should be able to complete systems-development task orders at just one-third the cost and time of projects developed from scratch said Bob Webster the CCPL program manager at ESC headquartered at Hanscom Air Force Base Mass.

"We believe that command and control [systems development] is really `precedented' work almost everything that needs to be done has been done before " Webster said. "But the old way of operating was to treat everything as a brand-new development."

CCPL will build on a 6-year-old software reuse program called the Portable Reusable Integrated Software Modules (PRISM) which has cut information technology development costs by 56 percent. PRISM supported by Hughes and Raytheon focused on developing software for Defense Department "command center" systems which are used to coordinate tactical operations.

CCPL will expand the reuse program to cover two other domains: data fusion and analysis for pulling together intelligence from multiple sources and mission planning modeling and simulation.

The Air Force expects its contractors to make as much use as possible of existing software assets. And whenever possible contractors are expected to store new software they develop in the Air Force library.Over time new projects will require much less custom-developed code.

Like PRISM CCPL will emphasize the use of commercial software.

The Air Force's software reuse program beginning with PRISM before expanding to CCPL will benefit from "doing it in an incremental fashion and getting user involvement " said Jim Wade manager of command control communications and surveillance systems at Raytheon Electronic Systems Marlborough Mass. Raytheon's team includes Science Applications International Corp. Computer Sciences Corp. GDE Systems Inc. Arca Systems System Technology Associates and Raytheon E-Systems.

For the program to work the government and its contractors "have to maintain an architecture " said Tom Twomey executive program manager for CCPL at Hughes Information Technology Systems Fullerton Calif. Also "the systems have to be interoperable keeping things interoperable as products develop over time will be a challenge."

Hughes' team includes Lockheed Martin Federal Systems Lockheed Martin Corp. Sanders CTA Inc. Systems Research Applications Corp. DSD Laboratories Inc. Andersen Consulting and Avant Guarde Computer Services Inc.

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