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US auditors report USAF lacks JADC2 plans and requirements

USAF personnel test ABMS capabilities. The USAF is making progress on ABMS but lacks precise plans, requirements, and financial estimates, the GAO said. (US Air Force/DVIDS)

The US Air Force (USAF) is making progress on but lacks definitions and plans for the Air Battle Management System (ABMS), the service's component of Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2), according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

A GAO report, released on 13 January, details the USAF's efforts to build and implement ABMS.

The USAF has defined two ABMS efforts: Capability Release 1, which is intended to be installed on KC-46 tankers to receive data from F-35s and transmit it back to command-and-control centres; and Cloud-Based Command and Control (CBC2), which is built to integrate disparate data sources for North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and the Department of Defense's (DoD's) Northern Command.

“Both ABMS efforts will require additional acquisition planning in the future to deliver full operational capabilities,” said the report. “Until the air force addresses our prior recommendations to document a plan to mature technologies, prepare a cost estimate, and complete an affordability analysis for Capability Release 1 and CBC2, the air force risks that the requisite technologies will not be mature when needed.”

The report noted that both systems lack precise requirements. The GAO found that Capability Release 1 will no longer be compatible with the F-22, which was previously included in the effort. While Capability Release 1 has defined capabilities, the GAO noted that there is no precise plan for how to mature technologies to reach those capabilities. In contrast, the USAF has a maturation plan for CBC2, but has yet to define the capabilities to be matured.

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