USAF Scales Back Baseline BMC2 Needs For E-10A Aircraft, Official Says
By Stephen Trimble
June 6, 2003
The U.S. Air Force has trimmed its baseline requirements for the battle management system aboard the future E-10A Multi-sensor Command and Control Aircraft (MC2A), deferring several key capabilities to later spirals, a program official told The DAILY June 5.
Slowing the development curve for the Battle Management Command and Control (BMC2) suite allows the desired technologies to mature and reduces the initial cost of the system, said Col. Joe Smyth, the E-10A's program director. The move reflects the Air Force acquisition leadership's new emphasis on setting "pragmatic" development goals, he said. BMC2's revised baseline "makes sure that we are clear to the warfighter about what we can deliver on time and stand behind that," Smyth said.
The Air Force opened the competitive phase of the BMC2 acquisition June 3, posting a request for proposals for the estimated $400 million development program (DAILY, June 5). A first round of bids is due July 8. The Air Force plans to downselect to at least two contractors for a seven-month system requirements review and select a single contractor for the system development and demonstration phase in March 2004.
In recent weeks, talks between acquisition officials and operational users have narrowed the scope of the baseline requirements for BMC2.
The baseline system must be designed to interpret various forms of intelligence data and correlate the information onto an easily readable map screen. But more advanced features, such as automatically producing a list of potential courses of action, were rephased as "objective" requirements and deferred to spirals 1.2 or 1.3, Smyth said. The current state of "fusion" technology hasn't persuaded the Air Force that such capabilities are feasible at the program's baseline level, Smyth said.
Other technologies that are being deferred include automatic functions that can propose assigning warplanes with the right weapons loads to strike certain targets, analyze the rules of engagement and assess battle damage.
Smyth said potential bidders still may propose introducing such capabilities in the baseline configuration, but the Air Force has removed the requirement.
It's not clear how the slower development pace will affect the staffing requirement for the BMC2 suite. Original estimates showing a crew of 45-60 were scaled down as more automated capabilities were planned for the baseline design.
The Air Force has launched a staffing study in collaboration with MIT's Lincoln Laboratory, Smyth said. The project's results are due by October. The study includes an analysis of how many consoles and workstations are needed, how many tasks can be assigned to a single crewmember and what key functions must be staffed.
Air Force officials will conduct a series of one-on-one briefings with potential bidders on June 13 and June 14, Smyth said. The BMC2 makes up roughly a fourth of the $1.7 billion development effort for the E-10A, which also includes an advanced radar sensor, a Boeing 767-400ER and an integration program. http://www.aviationnow.com/avnow/news/chan...ws/bmc06063.xml