USAF turning DCGS into open architecture
An unspecified battle management team has partnered with the US Air Force Research Laboratory and Air Combat Command to shift from the closed architecture of the US Air Force’s Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS) to a new open architecture, it was announced on 25 August.
The current closed system results in lengthy deployment cycles, non-agile processes, isolated designs and unsupported and end-of-life hardware and software solutions, according to the USAF. Under the new architecture, the USAF claims that it will not have to engineer the entire system to include hardware and software for each operational capability, since it is standardised to support quick capability integration.
Lt Col Joshua P. Williams, DCGS Branch materiel leader, USAF, said: ‘In order to support CFACC (Combined Forces Air Component Commander) intelligence needs, DCGS must be able to conduct time-dominant and decision-quality analysis to optimise ISR operations, produce timely assessments and enhance battlespace awareness and threat warnings.
‘Using live data with certified operators in two geographically separated locations, we were able to demonstrate the improved abilities of the open architecture by reducing analyst processing, evaluation and decision time.’
There are several DCGS sites worldwide, and airmen at these sites currently spend time in tasks that are unrelated to their primary analytical duties due to the closed architecture of the system. The team is working on an open and agile architecture that can enable a plug-and-play-type environment. The transition is partially in place.
Within 42 weeks, the team developed, implemented and institutionalised open software and hardware processes and specifications, and then moved an operational capability to the new architecture. The migration reduced analyst evaluation and decision time by over 60%, according to the air force.
Some of the improvements under the new open architecture include allowing the gathering and storing of intelligence in one location and single consolidation of disparate operator workflow.
Meanwhile, the piloting phase of the new architecture is scheduled to conclude in summer 2017. The specific work of open architecture risk reduction is in the first of three phases. The risk reduction concluded in December 2015. The programme is currently deploying pilots with the new open structure in three locations with varying mission threads.
The new architecture is being developed using open standards, enabling other DCGS systems to utilise the improved capabilities.
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