Air Force wants tactical info in GCSS

Air Force officials plan to integrate their command, control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems with the Global Combat Support System-Air Force (GCSS-AF).

The service also wants the command and control system, dubbed AF C2, to share the architecture and infrastructure with GCSS-AF, which was started in 2002. Air Force officials hope the move increases crews' access to data and decision-making, and decreases information technology operating costs.

"The Air Force merged strategic data with GCSS-AF," said Robert Guerra, a principal at Guerra, Kiviat, Flyzik and Associates Inc. "The service now wants to merge tactical data."

The creation AF C2 and integrating it with GCSS-AF will cost billions of dollars. But the Air Force must do it to strengthen the Defense Department's information superiority and network-centric goals, Guerra said.

The program will use commercial hardware and software with Web-based capabilities to create fast, secure computing and network environments. The Air Force also wants a portal and data repository on DOD's Non-Classified Internet Protocol Network and the classified Secret Internet Protocol Network, said Air Force chief information officer John Gilligan in a memo to service commands titled, "CIO's Forward Focus: Common Architecture for Air Force Command and Control and Combat Support Capabilities."

"A common approach and common products across our Air Force command and control and combat support domains are achievable, and will provide tangible and immediate benefits to the Air Force," Gilligan said in the three-page memo.

AF C2's hardware and software will follow the service's common consolidation strategy, he said. The service in August 2003 established the Air Force IT Commodity Council, which already developed a streamlined desktop PC and notebook purchasing strategy that saved $4 million. Last September, officials announced plans for 2005 to start outsourcing network administration work at domestic bases. The service also in September planned an enterprise Microsoft Corp. license.

Gilligan in the Nov. 11, 2003, memo touted work done during the past 18 months on GCSS-AF that included:

-- Building a common framework for sharing applications, data and key enterprise services, such as security.

-- Creating a Web portal-based user interface with a common look and feel.

-- Forming an enterprise data storage facility.

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