Successful evaluation helps key intel program move forward|
Posted 11/29/2010 Updated 11/29/2010
by Patty Welsh
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs
11/29/2010 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- The Air Force Distributed Common Ground System, or DCGS, 10.2 program is back on track after a recent successful operational utility evaluation at the DGS-4 site at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
"We have turned a corner," said Lt. Col. Anthony Cruciani, DCGS 10.2 program manager. "Due to evolving requirements from the user end and how they conduct their intelligence operations, we had to adapt the system to ensure it would meet the user's needs."
DCGS is a globally networked intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance weapon system. The system produces intelligence information collected by the U-2, RQ-4 Global Hawk, MQ-9 Reaper and MQ-1 Predator.
DCGS block 10.2 provides an enterprise architecture that is net-centric and web-enabled, allowing for superior data sharing and collaboration. It also offers improved network control and management.
"The block 10.2 upgrade that successfully transitioned into operations at Ramstein Air Base provides netcentric web based capabilities to greatly enhance intelligence product sharing and interoperability with other services," said Colonel Cruciani.
During initial operational testing at site DGS-2 at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., in February and March, system performance issues were encountered.
"The users were conducting operations far differently than when we first fielded the system to them two years earlier," said Colonel Cruciani.
In addition, many users were more familiar with traditional thick-client based systems, which are not web-based or network-centric.
"In addition to getting the system to perform the way we needed it to, we also had to work on getting the users to trust the system," said the colonel.
The Electronic Systems Center directed the contractor to adapt the system to the changing requirements.
"We're building a system as we're fighting two wars and modifying it as we're going," said Colonel Cruciani. "We were able to take the lessons learned from DGS- 2, do a tremendous amount of work on the system and that has brought us here - a successful operational checkout at DGS- 4 in October."
During that evaluation, the system successfully processed, exploited and disseminated simultaneous U-2, Global Hawk, Predator and Reaper missions throughout a five-day period.
The system has been fielded to DGS core sites 1, 2, 4 and 5. It is also now being fielded at three Air National Guard sites.
"The system has continued to perform well," said the colonel. "We expect in the very near term to get direction to transition DGS-5 and the first ANG site into operations."
Another short-term goal is to participate in a data exchange event with the Army, ensuring the two services can share intelligence data.
"From here, we want to build on the success of DGS-4," said Colonel Cruciani. "We used a methodical approach and it took a lot of planning to get to this point."
He emphasized the next steps will be to continue fielding at the Air National Guard sites, getting other sites ready for transition, and transitioning another core site to operational status.
In addition, the colonel mentioned that he believes the system has much more potential.
"We have only scratched the surface of the capabilities that are inherent in the DCGS 10.2 architecture," he said. "It will take us quite a while to figure out how to exploit all of them."
The program office has received positive feedback from users about the system, and about enhancements they would like to see in the future.
Because of the lessons learned, future 10.2 program capabilities will not be integrated through large block upgrades, but through modernization efforts such as annual bulk releases and quick reaction capability efforts.
"It took the whole team to transition DGS-4 into operational status successfully; everyone from the program office at ESC, from the contractors, to Warner Robins ALC [Air Logistics Center], and advocacy from the 480th and site leadership," said Colonel Cruciani. "It was a very positive, collaborative experience."