C2/Comms

The next test of the Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System is delayed again

The Air Force won’t be holding a second round of experiments for the Advanced Battle Management System until at least August or September, the head of U.S. Northern Command said Monday.

The Air Force had hoped to conduct another set of demonstrations for its next-generation command-and-control system in June, after the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic prompted the service to delay the May event. However, continued disruption has pushed off the event a little further, said Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy.

“We're still super excited about it,” O’Shaughnessy said of the exercises. “We're going to do the same thing, but just taking an even broader perspective.”

The Air Force conducted the first demonstration of the Advanced Battle Management System in December, using a number of operational platforms — including F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, F-22 jets and the Navy destroyer Thomas Hudner — to test a number of experimental technologies meant to allow the services to more seamlessly connect and share data.

U.S. Northern Command participated in the scenario, which involved the U.S. military having to defend the United States against a simulated cruise missile attack. It will also play a major role in the second wave of experiments, with U.S. Strategic Command and U.S. Space Command added to the list of players.

The U.S. military wants to be able to network all of its platforms together, enabling them to immediately transmit data and automatically cue weapons to target an adversary — a concept it calls Joint All Domain Command and Control. The Air Force conceives the Advanced Battle Management System as the key group of technologies that will enable JADC2.

O’Shaughnessy said the upcoming Advanced Battle Management System experiments could help the joint force better understand how the technology works, as opposed to being “a bunch of PowerPoint charts with lightning bolts and things on it.”

“Part of my intent from here, from NORTHCOM, is to really show the value to the joint force of what JADC2 can bring. And we do have some pretty good [advocacy] that we see not just in the Air Force, but growing in some of the other services as well,” he said.

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