The US Air Force (USAF) has re-launched its effort to equip the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III strategic transport aircraft with a bespoke command-and-control (C2) capsule.
Renamed the Roll-on Conference Capsule (ROCC) programme, details of modified effort were posted on the Federal Business Opportunities (FedBizOpps) website on 25 April. The programme was initially launched in November 2016 as the C-17 Silver Bullet Replacement programme.
As noted in the USAF's request for information (RFI), the ROCC is part of a deployable roll-on-roll-off (ro-ro) system for the C-17 that, when connected to the aircraft's Steel Eagle power and communications pallet, will provide integrated C2 capability for US government senior leaders and their travel teams flying in and out of Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. The USAF currently uses modified Airstream trailers known as Silver Bullet Modules that are loaded into the aircraft as cargo.
In the original November 2016 synopsis, it was stated that the C2 capsule should provide business and private rest areas, and should occupy no more than five standard 463L pallet positions that measure 224 cm x 274 cm (the C-17 can carry up to 18 such pallets).
An industry day has been scheduled for late spring/early summer (Q2/Q3), with a contract award following in late 2017.
While the USAF has a dedicated C2 platform in the form of the Boeing E-4B Advanced Airborne Command Post, the numbers of C-17s available (the service currently has 213 in its inventory) means that they can be more easily tasked for short-notice flights of top-level officials. Also, the concept of fitting a ro-ro C2 capsule into what looks from the outside to be just another normal transport aircraft affords a degree of anonymity for those inside, which translates into increased safety. This is especially true when travelling into active war zones, and the Silver Bullet system has been used extensively by senior US government officials travelling in and out of places such as Iraq.
Want to read more? For analysis on this article and access to all our insight content, please enquire about our subscription options: ihs.com/contact