Air Force chooses Lockheed as integrator for Air and Space Operations Centers

Following a lengthy source-selection process, the Air Force yesterday selected Lockheed Martin to be the weapon systems integrator for its worldwide Air and Space Operations Centers.

The initial three-year contract, awarded by the Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., is for $589 million, with priced options for seven more years that would bring the total contract value up to about $2 billion.

The Air Force chose Lockheed Martin over General Dynamics Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp. after almost a year of deliberation. Industry bids were submitted last October.

The Air Force has 19 AOCs, five of which are large war-fighting facilities called Falconers that direct military air campaigns in major conflicts overseas in support of the regional combatant commands. U.S. Central Command's Falconer AOC, which orchestrates all U.S. and coalition aircraft sorties in Iraq and Afghanistan, is at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar.

Each of the AOCs has evolved somewhat differently because of its distinct missions. The Air Force began calling the AOC a "weapon system" as part of its desire to establish a functional baseline for all of its AOCs. The typical Falconer AOC uses 48 different systems and applications and 50 communications interfaces, many of which cannot exchange information seamlessly, slowing the pace of operations.

The Air Force wants the WSI to integrate and standardize the systems and interfaces across the 19 AOCs, which will grow to 23, to a common hardware and software baseline. This will facilitate moving to a network-centric environment in which incoming data can flow freely and be managed more efficiently, Air Force officials said.

The WSI also will add machine-to-machine interfaces that will increase automation of tasks and provide faster access to incoming intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data.

Lockheed "will accomplish in-depth analysis and trade studies on requirements, priorities, existing and future capabilities and infrastructure, and then make recommendations to the government and implement solutions as directed," said WSI deputy program manager Capt. Tony Monnat.

The WSI will perform numerous critical tasks, to include:
  • Systems engineering activities that address risk management, metrics and support for the government's efforts to achieve operational safety, suitability and effectiveness;
  • Establish and maintain configuration and performance baselines;
  • Deliver an integration environment that will help third-party developers bring applications to the AOC that are more easily integrated;
  • Evolve the weapon system infrastructure to a more open, net-centric architecture that is compliant with the Netcentric Enterprise Solutions for Interoperability;
  • Analyze alternatives and make recommendations for new and existing capabilities and the best way to integrate them (taking Net-Centricity and total ownership cost into account);
  • Help the government divest itself from unnecessarily duplicative or low-return-on-investment applications;
  • Optimize fielding, sustainment and training.

The other four Falconers are at the 7th Air Force at Osan Air Base, Korea; with U.S. Air Forces Europe at Ramstein Air Base, Germany; with Pacific Air Forces at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii; and with U.S. Southern Command Air Forces at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. A Falconer such as the one at Al Udeid can be manned by 1,000 or more personnel operating around the clock to manage and control up to 3,000 air sorties a day. Smaller AOCs are at locations such as the headquarters of Air Mobility Command and Air Force Space Command.

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