The 445 Flight Test Squadron also provided a KC-135 to extend the test period. This enabled the mission to be pushed to three hours.
On the ground side, there was critical participation from range assets – Ridley Mission Control provided display for real-time kill removal and debriefing; Air Defense Systems Integrator provided a critical link between the live players and the virtual assets; Radar Control Facility’s Space Positioning Optical Radar Tracking control gave ground controlled intercept situational awareness to the aircraft on both sides, and the 412th Test Wing engineering developing scenario.
The team was able to receive command and control inputs from the carrier group at Port Loma, Calif., or from the E-2C at Patuxent River, Md. They were also able to get simulated assistance in taking down threats from F-18s at China Lake, Calif., and F-15s from Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., said Bobbie Wheaton, 412th Test Wing engineer. And all under the direction of Joint Interoperability Test Command control at Fort Huachuca, Ariz.
“During testing, the pilots monitored local players through radar and other on-board sensors but also could ‘see’ other simulated assets only through their datalink fed by the distributed network and vice versa,” Bunch said.
Another purpose of this event is to reduce cost and increase warfighter and pilot capability, said Curtis Kenngot, 412th Test Wing Datalink operator. “Through simulation we can do this in a distributed environment by cutting the cost of having multiple aircraft to one location and utilizing other assets.”
The methodology and training evolved out of the Vietnam War with the development of Top Gun School and Warfighter School, said Diana Bladen-Tufts, 412th Test Wing range control officer.
It just evolved and moved out to other bases and ranges to keep proficiencies at standard.
Testing aircraft and flight-related systems in a net-centric environment is of critical importance to the Air Force.
Platforms must be able to share information about air and ground threats, the combat environment, and command and control information to keep the Air Force on the cutting edge and one step ahead of the adversary, Wood said.
This will be paramount as the Air Force is reduced in size. Each component must be more effective and link operations are the component that multiplies the effectiveness of every individual aircraft.
“Last week, the skies over Edwards were filled with aircraft bringing us one step closer to realizing the vision of developing and testing net-centric enabled aircraft and weapons in a safe and effective manner,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Christopher Cook, 412th Test Wing Operations Group commander.