WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force is seeking information about commercial equipment it can potentially use to reinforce its lines of communications and flesh out the Advanced Battle Management System, its contribution to the Pentagon’s Joint All-Domain Command and Control campaign.
The service on Jan. 6 published a notice soliciting input from industry regarding software-defined wide-area network technologies, or SD-WAN, cornerstones of worldwide connectivity.
“There are many commercial SD-WAN capabilities available for procurement,” the notice reads, “but there has not been a holistic survey of the available commercial solutions and their ability to meet Department of the Air Force operational requirements.”
Submissions are due in early February. A formal request for proposals is expected in mid-March. Those eventually chosen will be funded for weeks of testing, according to the notice.
The Air Force is specifically interested in original kit that can boost data transfer rates and reduce latency, are hardened against jamming and intercept, can be scalable, and can be adopted by users with little in common.
The sought-after attributes are foundational to the service’s ABMS initiative, its latest push to create next-generation command and control with the help of cloud computing, artificial intelligence and more.
“The Department of the Air Force intends to facilitate the rapid exploration and maturation of innovative technologies,” reads the notice, which repeatedly references JADC2. “The Air Force will support future operations by providing the critical surveillance, tactical edge communications, processing, networking, and battle management command and control capabilities to the joint warfighting force.”
Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall has prioritized the buildout of ABMS. In September, he said reforming command-and-control systems is harder than expected and announced the appointment of a new program executive officer, Brig. Gen. Luke Cropsey, to supervise the endeavor.
The service that same month also selected several companies — L3Harris Technologies, Leidos, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon Technologies and Science Applications International Corporation, together known as the ABMS Digital Infrastructure Consortium — to buttress its efforts.
The five are all among the 40 largest global defense firms by revenue