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C4iSR: Air

Challenges with implementing DCGS continue

23 January 2017
Rows of monitors illuminate the DCGS-1 at Langley AFB, Virginia. The USAF is transitioning from its baseline DCGS to a more open and modular system. Source: USAF

As the US military transitions to a more open and modular version of the Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS), the services continue to encounter hurdles as they seek ways to get more intelligence data into the hands of analysts.

The US Air Force (USAF) is moving off the legacy baseline DCGS towards open government-owned standards, Colonel Kristofer Gifford, who oversees the USAF DCGS investment and modernisation effort said during a panel discussion sponsored by AFCEA Northern Virginia, in McLean, Virginia.

"We are doing this in parallel," Col Gifford said. "We are sustaining a legacy system while deploying our open architecture [system]. Instead of fielding DCGS upgrades as a block like you would a jet or aircraft carrier [we are] breaking [DCGS] down into modular components."

The objective, he noted, is to develop the ability to rapidly field the DCGS capability so that analysts can get the most modern tools as soon as possible, regardless of whether those tools are commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) or government owned. Developing an open environment for DCGS capabilities could also result in the air force being able to share applicable capabilities with the other services.

The US Army has had the most difficult time working through DCGS. While its DCGS Increment 1 has been fielded, the service is still grappling with awarding its Increment 2 effort after issuing a request for proposal in December 2015. Increment 2 was to provide DCGS-A with advanced analytics, big data, and cloud computing capabilities.

The army had been targeting a contract award to a single vendor in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2016.

US Army Colonel Rob Collins, project manager for DCGS-Army, said the service is focused not only on continuing to modernise DCGS-A Increment 1, but looking to leverage the use of commercial products.

"We are making sure we move things as quickly as possible.

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