Military News

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Improvements on way to warfighters as Hanscom upgrades 'heart' of CRC

by Patty Welsh
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

3/18/2015 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- A program office here is improving conditions for warfighters using the Control and Reporting Center Operations Module, or OM.

The CRC is a mobile command, control and communications radar element that provides a comprehensive air picture by integrating input from air- and ground-based radars. It consists of several subsystems, including AN/TPS-75 radar, a radio module, theater deployable communications unit module and the OM.

Often, personnel refer to the OM as the "heart" of the system, as it's where warfighters receive and use the information gathered from various sensors. The team here has upgraded the OM by reducing its footprint, making it more easily transportable and bringing it up to date with current technology.

The system is set up with 16 operator stations in four OM shelters. The goal with the new system is for everything to be within one shelter in a decreased 10 foot by 12 foot size. Program officials here say the upgrades are necessary.

"The key is to get our warfighters out of the legacy (CRC) shelters that have cold war-era technology and ensure what they train on equals what they'll fight with in theater," said Capt. Joshua Sollee, program manager. "The new system will have a commercial-off-the-shelf architecture, in line with training and industry standards, so that an Airman off the street can use it easily."

With a goal to look to small businesses for production, the team here did a lot of preparation, including completing a technical data package and producing production-ready units as a risk-reduction activity. The production-ready units will be fielding in early 2016 and new OMs will be the system of record.

In November, milestone C, or the engineering, manufacturing and development phase, was completed and the program office released a request for proposal for the production contract, which will be a small business set-aside. This will be for up to 16 more units, and award is anticipated by summer of 2015, with fielding by early 2016.

Sollee emphasized the importance of the system, including increased track capacity and speed of processing, which are vital to support a larger area of operations. The OM Mod also improves human-machine interface, customization for specific theater needs and allows a combined tactical operations center for crews, he said.

The big take away for end-users is that they will be able to track more flights, with more fidelity, in a more user-friendly functionality that allows the system to leverage future technologies that are already being developed.  By bringing the system more in line with current technology, upgrades will be easier in the future.

"The CRC will allow our warfighters to deploy with the system they train on and reduce current in-theater sustainment costs," Sollee said. "We need to get the warfighters the technology they deserve."

He added that it took a lot of collaboration to get to this point.

"I'm very proud of our team and the work they have accomplished in such a short amount of time," he said.

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