Air Force Experiment Tests Future Concepts
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 29, 2004 The Air Force is hosting an experiment at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., through Aug. 5 to test capabilities that may help win the war on terrorism.
The Joint Expeditionary Force Experiment 2004 is the fifth in a series of such experiments that test new technology, concepts and procedures to give combined air- and space-operations centers an added edge.
Previous years' experiments validated new technologies and concepts and quickly placed them into air-operations centers. Many concepts pioneered in these experiments proved themselves in combat over Afghanistan and Iraq, said Air Force Lt. Gen. William T. Hobbins, deputy chief of staff for warfighting integration.
The general commanded the 2002 experiment. The changes initiated then allowed members of air-operations centers to quickly transfer information among all nodes in the system. The improvements shortened the time it took to get information from the ground to aircraft.
Now the service is working on capabilities suggested by experiences in operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Improving communications, improving intelligence dissemination and giving total battlespace awareness are at the heart of the experiment, said Air Force Lt. Gen. Bruce Carlson, 8th Air Force commander and the chief of this year's experiment.
This year, the Army is playing a large part in the experiment. The Army and Air Force are cooperating on the Army Close Air Support/Situational Awareness program. Officials hope this will help reduce instances of fratricide, both from Army air defense and from Air Force close-air support.
Cooperation among services is typical. The combined air and space operations center contains Air Force, Navy and Marine personnel.
The CAOC, as it is called, ran the air war over Iraq -- sending air-tasking orders to any number of U.S. and allied aircraft. This year's experiment stressed the fact that allies will be a part of any operation.
Personnel from Britain, Canada and Australia are integral to the experiment, Carlson said. They are cleared for all aspects of the experiment and will take part in the after-action review. "We want to make sure they take back these lessons to their leaders," Carlson said.
In addition to the Army Close Air Support/Situational Awareness program, other aspects being tested are:
- The Data Link Automated Reporting System. This provides automated descriptions of flight status, fuel, weapons availability and strike information.
- Gridlock. Done in coordination with the National Geospatial- Intelligence Agency, this system will automate and speed up locating targets from a variety of sensors.
- Machine-to-Machine Weather. The experiment will test the ability to use automation to ensure weather information is automatically included in any battlefield picture.
- Tactical Targeting Networked Technology. This is a wideband network that will be incorporated into the Joint Tactical Radio System.
- Initial Single Integrated Space Picture. This will incorporate information from national, military and commercial satellites for use by commanders.
- Network-centric Collaborative Targeting. This will seek to incorporate information and intelligence from a myriad of sources to allow commanders to make accurate targeting decisions.
Others that will be tested include the Battle Control Center, the Joint Synchronized Common Operational Planning Environment, the Visualization of Expeditionary Sites Tool, the Satellite Interference Response System, Effects- based Operations/Predictive Battlespace Awareness Prototype, and Project Suter III.