Farnborough 2010: CENTCOM gears up for ISR network upgrade
The US Air Force's Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS) Block 10.2 Upgrade Programme could be made available to US Central Command (CENTCOM) by the end of the year, according prime contractor Raytheon.
Speaking to Digital Battlespace at the Farnborough International Air Show on 21 July, Raytheon vice president for intelligence and information systems, Jane Chappell said the system was ready to undergo an 'operational test' at an undisclosed location in Germany. If successful, she stated that DCGS 10.2 could be made available to CENTCOM any time after that. CENTCOM is responsible for ongoing US operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
At the moment, DCGS 'core' sites include Langley Air Force Base (AFB) in Virginia, Beale AFB in California, Ramstein AFB in Germany and Hickam AFB in Hawaii.
DCGS is designed to provide 'continuous, on-demand intelligence brokering to achieve full spectrum dominance and enable US and coalition forces to impact and change the course of events in hours, minutes and even seconds,' according to Raytheon. Its DCGS Integration Backbone (DIB) is used to distribute ISR data from RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for example.
Such information is then disseminated via Raytheon's High Speed Guard system, already in use with US forces. Also a Raytheon product, High Speed Guard automatically processes and disseminates information to relevant users with appropriate security clearance.
Currently, ISR systems feed data into platform-centric, stove-piped tasking, processing, exploitation and dissemination systems that operate independently of one another, resulting in a restriction of the joint forces operational environment.
'DCGS will network the USAF together. This will make Global Hawk and Predator data, for example, available to a wider population. In fact, all UAV data will go through DCGS. We call it google with a clearance,' she added, describing how keyword searches could be made for ISR material.
DCGS emerged from the Chairman's Joint Vision 2020, Defense Planning Guidance, Quadrennial Defense Review, and service modernisation efforts and saw Raytheon working with the USAF to transform current DCGS Tasking, Processing, Exploitation and Dissemination (TPED) models into the Task, Post, Process and Use (TPPU) model.
The USAF Electronic Systems Center ISR Integration System Program Office, based at Hanscom AFB, Massachusetts, is contracting authority for DCGS 10.2.
By Andrew White, Farnborough.
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