AMC Experiments with JADC2 to Enhance Joint Force
(Source: Air Mobility Command; issued June 10, 2020)
Operators test a fixed installation satellite antenna (FISA) connection aboard a C-17 transport aircraft. The FISA was set up to enable higher connection speeds and more efficient communication between the aircraft and the ground. (USAF photo)
SCOTT AFB, Ill. --- For the first time, Air Mobility Command Airmen conducted a commercial beyond line of sight (BLOS) communication and tactical data link experiment to update a mixed formation en-route to a simulated threat area during the U.S. Air Force Weapons School Joint Forcible Entry training scenario held outside of Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, on June 6, 2020.

After departing from various locations, 16 AMC C-17 Globemaster III’s from Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Joint Base Charleston and 19 C-130J Hercules’ from Little Rock Air Force Base, Dyess AFB and Altus AFB joined in formation to execute the training.

This experiment was in support of Air Force and AMC efforts to command, control and connect the Joint Force in future conflicts. AMC is conducting training and experiments to better integrate with plans to develop the Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS), the long-term plan to connect the Joint warfighter through a networked, secure, rapid, artificial intelligence enabled system. ABMS is the Air Force’s initiative in a larger, Joint concept of commanding, controlling, and connecting forces and operations called Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2).

“Where there’s a tanker, there’s a fighter, and nothing moves without a gray tail or a Civil Reserve Air Fleet asset,” said Gen. Maryanne Miller, Commander of Air Mobility Command. “So we have to be connected into the network, so we can be that link, that sensor, and that JADC2 node.”

Robust JADC2 allows the commander to direct operations to “move at the speed of war” as described in the AMC Vision. AMC and the Air Force are employing new concepts and technology to network friendly forces, accelerate operations, and overwhelm adversaries with simultaneous challenges from every domain.

The training included an AMC-led tactical data link experiment intended to increase aircrew situational awareness of the threat environment before and during the mission. New computers aboard two C-17s enabled high-speed data transfer via commercial satellites to the entire formation. The commercial satellite link and new computers enabled BLOS, to build aircrew situational awareness hours before they reached the simulated threat environment.

“Right now, the C-17 offers very limited imagery of the battle air space pilots enter,” said Maj. Tyler Boyd, 62nd Operations Support Squadron director of wing tactics. “DRC gives them a live picture and connection to what’s going on so they can see where everybody else is, including threats and friendlies, and have better situational awareness overall.”

The commercial satellite link and new computers dramatically increase connection speeds and refresh speeds, providing much more up-to-date information about the threat environment. Also, the network bandwidth will allow multiple users to connect, whereas the current capability becomes dramatically slower as users join the network.

“The experiment was a success, although in the strictest sense, we didn’t do any sensing, translating or managing of effects during the experiment,” said Lt. Col. Bradley Rueter, AMC Capability Development branch chief. “What we did do, was experiment with ways of sharing the data and understanding to test out a few hypotheses specific to MAF [Mobility Air Forces] employment in contested environments, where the adversary is trying to deny us access through a myriad of options.”

Rueter added that the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics has a plan in place to have the ABMS on-ramp every four months to continue the experiment. Additionally, AMC has a plan to use every opportunity presented to continue experimenting with the ABMS.

“AMC is an active participant in the ABMS on-ramps, and is also conducting independent, closely-related experiments and training like last weekend’s to build capability so we can more meaningfully participate in future on-ramps and demonstrate AMC’s role in future conflicts and in connecting the Joint Force,” Rueter said.

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LRAFB, Dyess Demonstrate Agile Combat Airlift During JFE Exercise
(Source: Air Mobility Command; issued June 09, 2020)
LITTLE ROCK AFB, Ark. --- Little Rock and Dyess Air Force Base launched 19 C-130J Super Hercules in support of the U.S. Air Force Weapons School’s Joint Forcible Entry exercise at the Nevada Test and Training Range, June 6.

The exercise, known as JFE Vul, is a large-scale air mobility exercise designed to simulate the joint forcible entry of paratroopers into a contested battlespace.

Although Little Rock and Dyess had separate mission planning cells, both were able to join each other’s formation and head to the simulated JFE drop area.

“Training in a joint-base exercise is very realistic,” said Maj. Darshan Subramanian, 317th Airlift Wing chief of tactics. “The ability for multiple mobility bases to synchronize effects from distributed locations is a critical component of future air mobility conflicts.”

In total, the exercise featured approximately 75 aircraft who engaged in an intricate airdrop operation in a simulated enemy environment where sophisticated Integrated Air Defense Systems were employed.

JFE showcased that we as a military are able to maintain readiness on a national scale even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, said Capt. Patrick Waters, 61st Airlift Squadron pilot and 19th Airlift Wing planner for the LRAFB-based aircraft.

“The C-130 community pulled together 19 tails, which is huge, especially amidst the pandemic,” Waters said. “Airmen were brought in to launch, fuel, and load the aircraft along with anything else we required to get off the ground and participate in this training.”

Waters noted that the integration of forces in this particular exercise provided participants with a joint perspective on how to best support airdrop operations and assess air threats, surface-to-air threats and ground threats.

“Our main mission was to get Soldiers on the ground,” Waters said. “This formation had many layers to ensure the paratroopers were able to start their descent … bomber aircraft cleared the airspace, fighter aircraft protected the C-130Js, and C-17 Globemaster IIIs dropped equipment the Soldiers needed to complete their mission.”

Subramanian echoed Waters’ sentiment, adding that the JFE allows us to practice the planning and muscle movements required to achieve mission success in a contested environment.

“The ability to airdrop the Army deep into enemy territory via C-130s while supported by the Combat Air Forces is a critical option for the national command authority when viewing options to project American strength,” he said.

Air Mobility Command also dual-purposed the JFE construct by utilizing it as a testing ground for a tactical data link experiment intended to increase aircrew situational awareness of the threat environment before and during the mission.

The experimentation involved new computers aboard two C-17s enabling high-speed data transfer via commercial satellites to the entire formation.

The commercial satellite link and new computers are intended to dramatically increase connection and refresh speeds, providing much more up-to-date information about the threat environment. Also, the network bandwidth allows for multiple users to connect, whereas the current capability becomes dramatically slower as users join the network.

“Pilots have used tactical data link to communicate through satellites for some time now,” Waters said. “But instead of communicating as normal, the C-17 pilots used a new network band to communicate confidential information across the formation on a secure and rapid system.”

Waters continued to say that investing in this level of communication allows for accelerated operations that will ultimately overwhelm adversaries with simultaneous challenges from every domain.

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