Roche seeks better air tracking

Air Force Secretary James Roche wants to improve the service's tracking of allies' aircraft and the targeting of enemy ones.

Roche called for the development and fielding of three wide-body aircraft Feb. 12, called the E-10, that would feature advanced sensor and command, control and communications systems. His strategy comes six weeks before the Air Force will award a contested $400 million information technology contract to automate the data processing of enemy ground targets detected by sensors and the operation of radar that can penetrate clouds and tree cover.

Boeing Co., Lockheed Martin Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp. want to build the Battle Management Command and Control System, called the BMC2. The deal follows three contract awards to develop the airframe and IT systems on the Multi-Sensor Command and Control Aircraft, called the MC2A.

* August 2003: Boeing received a $126 million Air Force contract to build the first of five 767s to serve as experimental platform for the proposed aircraft trio.

* May 2003: An industry team led by Northrop Grumman landed a $215 million Air Force contract to install new radar and command and control systems on 767s, called the Weapon System Integration Program.

* 2000: Northrop Grumman received a $303 million Air Force deal to develop radar that tracks air and ground vehicles, called the Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program.

The E-10A would include the Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program with a four-foot aperture, the Weapon System Integration Program and the BMC2. The E-10B would combine an air moving target indicator sensor. The E-10C would merge the capabilities of the MC2A and the Rivet Joint aircraft.

"There you have it: An E-10 series, each of which would share a common integration and BMC2 suites — the MC2A," said Roche, speaking Feb. 12 at the Air Force Association's 2004 Air Warfare Symposium held in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., in a service statement.

The MC2A would replace six intelligence-gathering aircraft including the Airborne Warning and control System and the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System.

The Air Force wants to field four E-10 MC2As by 2012, which could grow to a fleet of 60 by 2020. The E-10A MC2A program is an important part of the Air Force's larger Command and Control Constellation program, which consists of land, air and space sensors that use common computer protocols and communications standards to share information.


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