Air Force activates intelligence pipeline

The Air Force has moved one step closer to intelligence integration by activating the first parts of the Distributed Common Ground Systems’ (DCGS) Integrated Backbone, known as the DIB.

The DIB will provide a pipeline on DOD’s Secret IP Router Network to enable military officials worldwide to locate, share and analyze imagery from manned and unmanned systems, in real time.

Lockheed Martin, which works on the DIB with lead contractor Raytheon, announced the deployment at the Air Warfare Symposium being hosted by the Air Force Association in Orlando, Fla., this week. DCGS links three intelligence databases, one each at Langley Air Force Base, Va., and Beale Air Force Base, Ca., and another at an undisclosed location in Europe, Lockheed said.

DCGS is the effort to join all ground intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) stations based on a service-oriented architecture and commercial technologies. When completed, DCGS will allow various parts of the intelligence community to share signal intelligence and measurement and signature intelligence through a Web-based searchable database.

The Army, Navy and Marine Corps will be able to add their systems to the Air Force DCGS because of its open architecture, said Mark Grablin, director of DOD ISR systems for Lockheed Martin. “The goal is to have a standard C4ISR enterprise…as well as shared services where it makes sense,” he said.

DCGS will also establish and promote common data standards, in conjunction with the DOD-wide Net-Centric Enterprise Services initiative, Grablin said.

“When we talk about the DIB, we are really talking about an entire net-centric architecture,” said Lt. Gen. Michael Peterson, Air Force chief information officer, in an interview with Federal Computer Week. The Air Force will also use that architecture for its command and control systems, Peterson said. This will allow C2 and ISR to integrate seamlessly, he added.

As with most similar efforts, the transition to the new system will require careful stewardship. “Air Force DCGS presents significant challenges as it becomes a networked, worldwide, distributed ISR ground system,” according to a document on John Pike’s GlobalSecurity.org Web site. As DCGS adds site to evolve into a wide area network, the service must integrate it while maintaining existing systems, the document said.

DOD has created the DCGS Integration and Activation Team to manage the change.

Further advances in DCGS will materialize when the Air Force releases the next version, called Block 10.2, some time around October 2007, said Grablin. According to a map Lockheed Martin provided, the current version Block 10.1 will be deployed at two additional sites in the Republic of Korea and in Guam.

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