Air Force seeks new command and control system

The Air Force is looking for new types of long-range wireless communications capabilities for its aircraft in Afghanistan, according to a request for information issued by the service Aug. 22.

No dollar figure was affixed to the RFI.

The Air Force Electronic Systems Center's Global Grid Product Area Directorate, located at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., wants vendor input for alternative beyond line-of-sight communications capabilities to connect aircraft to command centers in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia.

The communications may work in very high frequency or ultra high frequencies. Aircraft that will use the system include bombers, fighters and unmanned aerial vehicles.

The vendor's system will face multiple challenges.

According to the RFI, Afghanistan's mountainous terrain and extreme distances will hamper communications. The equipment also must withstand extreme temperature fluctuations, from minus-40 degrees to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. No unattended ground stations outside U.S. military compounds in Afghanistan can be used, though satellite communications can be. Commercial power sources will not be available, and the use of military-generated power will be discouraged, since it increases manpower requirements

The service would also like the vendor to use as much commercial off-the-shelf equipment as possible.

Responses are due Sept. 15. The service would like to see an initial deployment by January.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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