Home' Defense Systems : December 2012 Contents The Air Force already is looking to lever-
age open technology in a number of mis-
sion areas, said Rudolph. For example, the
service is working with the Navy to develop
a more open technology baseline for the
Air Operation Center Weapon System, a
command and control system for planning,
executing and assessing joint air operations.
A more open baseline would make it eas-
ier to incorporate more advanced capabili-
ties in a more timely fashion, said Rudolph.
A path to rapid development
Composability is another idea that is not new
but that is the subject of renewed interest.
In short, the term refers to the idea of
using existing software to meet new require-
ments. A composable system is one that can
be developed on demand according to user
requirements, while adhering to security and
Such an approach can save money by
leveraging existing investments. But just
as important, the process takes much less
time, making it easier to rapidly meet the
needs of a new mission.
"Every time we go into a new
scenario, whether it's hurricane relief, Iraq
or Afghanistan, the existing system has to
be modified in order to support the com-
mander's intent for that mission," Twyman
said. "The systems traditionally built by
industry are not flexible enough to adapt to
While the department has seen it work in
numerous areas, the goal now is to develop
an enterprisewide approach to composabil-
ity. One challenge is to push the process as
close to the field as possible, said Twyman,
"where the master sergeant who has knowl-
edge of the problem can combine things to
make a solution based on a particular mis-
sion at hand."
Good governance is key to making that
happen. DOD officials need to establish a
basic technology baseline, define repeat-
able development processes and provide the
necessary training to system administrators,
operators and software engineers.
DOD officials also need to revisit their
certification and accreditation processes,
said Rudolph. Take the example of the mas-
ter sergeant developing a system for quick
deployment. How quick will it be if the sys-
tem, based on software that has already been
tested, needs to get tested all over again?
"We can no longer afford to have that mas-
ter sergeant go through an onerous certifica-
tion and accreditation activity," said Rudolph.
"It just doesn't work, it can't work."
Air Force officials are looking at the pos-
sibility of accrediting the baseline itself --
what they call the implementation baseline
-- and then allowing developers to build on
that (see sidebar).
"Every time we go into a new scenario, whether it's hurricane relief,
Iraq or Afghanistan, the existing system has to be modified in
order to support the commander's intent for that mission."
---Michael R. Twyman, Vice President and General Manager,
Defense Systems Division, Northrop Grumman Information Systems
The Air Force is looking at IT infrastructure
in a new light these days.
Traditionally, an IT infrastructure has
been associated with particular programs.
Program managers are expected to work
within parameters created by the service s
IT policies and guidelines, and they
generally created their own infrastructure.
But that is changing.
The program executive office for
Command, Control and Communications
Information and Networks is looking to
create an IT infrastructure that will serve as
the foundation for systems developed by
This infrastructure will provide a
core set of IT functionality, including
Infrastructure-as-a-Service and Platform-as-
a-Service offerings, along with some basic
Individual programs then can leverage
that infrastructure to build application
and services to provide specific mission
"We are looking at the platform to be
very robust but also very standardized,
so that multiple folks can use it very
affordably," said Tim Rudolph, chief
technology officer for the Air Force Life
Cycle Management Center at Hanscom
Air Force Base. Once in place the service
can "dial back significantly" the instances
where a different infrastructure is needed
for every mission capability, he said.
Air Force IT infrastructure: A search for common ground
For more from Northrop Grumman,
go to www.northropgrumman.com/c4isr
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