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C2 Constellation still integrating, piece by piece

Posted 11/22/2010   Updated 11/22/2010 Email story   Print story


by Chuck Paone
66th Air Base Group

11/22/2010 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- A program initiated ten years ago as a grand attempt to integrate all command and control (C2) systems continues to contribute to that goal today, though in a different way.

While the C2 Constellation began as an effort to build an overarching architecture for all C2 systems, work now focuses on specific enterprise integration efforts to connect key systems within programs of record, said Arthur Daltas, C2C program manager.

"We still use that architecture work as a resource, but our efforts are now aimed at more practical systems engineering work," Mr. Daltas said. "We look for good opportunities to close the gaps among specific programs of record."

Those opportunities are sought formally through an annual summer call for candidates and also informally, via various discussions that take place throughout the year.

"The key to the evolved approach," said Perry Villanueva, chief of the Capabilities Integration Directorate's C2 Innovation Branch, "is that all of this is done in partnership."

"We're not mandating anything to anyone," he said. "We work with them, but we want the program managers to take ownership of the integrated solutions."

The C2C program team provides resources, including systems engineering expertise, program management and money, said Mr. Daltas. However, the managers of the various programs of record participate fully, so that the result flows from a genuine team effort.

"The fact is, program managers would like their systems to be integrated, but as they work to execute their programs, integration is likely going to be secondary to functionality," Mr. Daltas said. "C2 Constellation gives everyone a chance to move integration up the priority list."

While the name implies that integration efforts apply only to C2 programs, the constellation effort seeks to tie in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance programs too.

In fact, "C2C is the only Air Force program designed from the ground up to integrate C2 and ISR programs," Mr. Villanueva said. He noted that his team is always looking for joint and civil partners also, because the constellation doesn't begin and end with ESC programs or even just Air Force programs.

The types of programs, and the connectivity initiatives that could be undertaken, vary. The team looks hard at all proposals to determine which have the best, most realistic chances of success, and of making the biggest difference for warfighters.

"Our thrust is to collect requirements from the programs of record and determine if they'd fall within an enterprise integration construct," Mr. Villanueva said. "We have an architecture that allows us to know what integrated capability should look like."

As a result, the team manages to review and select candidates pretty quickly, in about 30 to 45 days. However, it's held off on announcing the successful Fiscal Year '11 candidates, while awaiting budget guidance, though it hopes to be able to do so soon.

Key successes from the last few years give them good reason to be hopeful about future success. Some of those projects, including a dynamic airspace management initiative and an initiative for full-motion-video request management that resulted in the recently publicized EMPIRE-A, are already beginning to pay dividends.

When searching for good candidates, the team looks not only at the programs themselves but at what external capabilities or initiatives could help. They review small business innovative research proposals (SBIR), general responses to ESC broad agency announcements and the latest Air Force Research Laboratory innovations for possible application.

"We want to engage with more small business proposals -- mainly SBIR Phase 2 -- because they tend to swim in our general direction without a clear sense of a final destination," Mr. Villanueva said. "Because we have insight into what matches make the most sense, we may be able to direct some of them toward our initiatives."

All of this fits nicely within the ESC Capabilities Integration Directorate vision "to be a sought-after partner in enhancing ESC's ability to rapidly and efficiently field effective, integrated materiel systems to meet warfighter needs."

"C2C is an important component of an overall effort to improve and more fully integrate warfighting capabilities," said Mr. Villanueva.

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