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 Battle Management; Joint STARS Recapitalization; Theater Battle Control; HRA
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U.S. Air Force Col. Scott Owens, Theater Battle Control Division chief, discusses battle management priorities with industry partners during a Hanscom Representatives Association meeting in Lexington, Mass., Feb. 20. He also touched on new initiatives such as Joint STARS Recapitalization and PEITSS. (U.S. Air Force photo by Linda LaBonte Britt)
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Battle Management division emphasizes acquisition priorities, sets sight on new initiatives

Posted 2/27/2014   Updated 2/27/2014 Email story   Print story


by Justin Oakes
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

2/27/2014 - LEXINGTON, Mass. -- The message was clear -- the Theater Battle Control Division is embracing a new acquisition strategy, one that keeps the division hard-focused on big-picture Air Force priorities.

Col. Scott Owens, Theater Battle Control Division chief, addressed priorities, strategy and initiatives such as Joint STARS Recapitalization and Platform Engineering and Integration for Tactical and Strategic Systems with industry partners and base members during a Hanscom Representatives Association meeting last week.

"We have to focus on fielding combat capabilities faster, consider total life cycle cost and develop strategies for the long haul," said Owens.

Theater Battle Control, a division under the Life Cycle Management Center's Battle Management Directorate, oversees approximately $2.2 billion worth of effort across the Future Years Defense Plan, which focuses on developing, acquiring, fielding and sustaining programs. These programs support worldwide communications, battle management, command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, tactical air control, air/ground surveillance, radar imagery and integrated air/missile defense.

Owens emphasized there are many factors that shape an acquisition strategy. A few of the influencers include promoting competition, taking back the technical baseline and promoting small business.

After several decades of functioning under the Total System Program Responsibility concept -- an acquisition strategy that essentially relies on a single prime industry partner to satisfy all aspects of the warfighter's requirement with minimal involvement from the government -- the Air Force is adapting its approach.

"Program management offices need to be more involved by taking back the technical baseline," Owens said. "In terms of competition and thus affordability, the government's data rights, or ability to share technical data for competitive purposes, is one of the primary constraints on current acquisition strategies."

In addition to emphasizing the tech baseline, the division is also focused on promoting competition.

"Competition is a timeless technique to get the best value for the warfighter and taxpayer," Owens said. "It's still the preferred method."

With this in mind, the Air Force faces the challenge of how to best maintain the competitive environment while decreasing acquisition cycle time.

While attending industry members appeared keen on the previous points, it was the mention of increasing small business participation that sparked the greatest interest.

According to the colonel, the Air Force is considering alternatives, including identifying and segregating small business tasks as part of the overall acquisition strategy.

Shifting the focus from strategy and priorities, Owens mentioned two new initiatives - PEITSS and JSTARS Recapitalization.

Theater Battle Control Division's Tactical Air Control Party Modernization (TACP-M) program, and potentially other programs within the Battle Management Directorate, will be utilizing a PEITSS Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity contract vehicle. "The PEITSS contract is designed to integrate and field cross-cutting battle management capabilities in programs across the directorate," Owens said.

What this means is that a network of multi-award ID/IQs will be established creating an arena where programs can use the contracts to quickly put in place a team [including small and large businesses] that can effectively accomplish goals together, according to Owens.

The second initiative mentioned, and also the Air Force's No. 4 acquisition priority, was the Joint STARS Recapitalization effort.

The current JSTARS system is an airborne battle management command and control, or BMC2, system designed to provide near real-time surveillance and targeting information on moving and stationary ground and surface targets; the system is equipped on a fleet of E-8C modified 707 commercial airframes.

"There is a tremendous opportunity to reduce the operational and sustainment costs for the Air Force on this aging fleet," Owens said. "In addition to re-hosting the JSTARS mission on a more affordable business jet class platform, the recapitalization strategy will leverage existing solutions in order to avoid the time and cost of developing new capabilities."

The proposed new airborne system will be based on an open systems architecture comprised of four main components: a business jet class platform, sensor subsystem, BMC2 subsystem and a communications system.

Owens concluded the meeting leaving attendees with one final thought.

With new initiatives identified and a clear strategy in place, the Theater Battle Control Division remains focused on developing, acquiring, fielding and sustaining affordable and effective programs to the warfighter.

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