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USAF seeks 'operational return‘ on ABMS, JADC2 investments

A prototype fire-control radar is being used to track threats and pass information to weapons during ABMS tests at White Sands Missile Range in 2020. (US Air Force)

Top US Air Force (USAF) leaders are planning to lock an “operational return” on the service's investments on its Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) and its portion of the Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) capability within the next three to five years, said USAF Secretary Frank Kendall.

“There are a lot of good things happening. I have been trying to get [programme officials] pointed more at what I call operational return on investments,” Kendall told Janes. “Some of the things that have been done, I think, move the ball in the right direction, but it‘s not integrated and focused enough in my mind,” he said during a January interview.

ABMS is the air service's effort to develop a mobile ad hoc network (MANET)-driven cloud-based battlefield communications and management network, based on an open architecture model leveraging the Internet of Things (IoT) approach to technology development that is largely used by civilian IT companies. The Pentagon-led JADC2 initiative will enable US commanders to connect any sensor pod or platform to any weapon system, regardless of domain. Although JADC2 is a department-wide joint effort, the technologies developed for the JADC2 concept are designed to dovetail with ABMS.

From the USAF perspective, Kendall said he anticipates “incremental improvement, and I definitely see some improvements [coming] in the next three to five years” writ large on the operationally focused capabilities for ABMS and JADC2.

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