KC-46 tests command and control during ABMS onramp 3

  • Published
  • By Deb Henley, 505th Command and Control Wing Public Affairs
  • 605th Test & Evaluation Squadron, Detachment 1

The 605th Test and Evaluation Squadron, Detachment 1 from Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, participated in the most recent Advanced Battle Management System onramp experiment during exercise Valiant Shield at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, September 15-25, 2020.

The objective of ABMS onramp 3 was to connect the joint force, while providing seamless detection, tracking, and engagement in all domains. The 605th TES evaluated the possibility of integrating nontraditional battle management C2 nodes, such as the KC-46, under the umbrella of ABMS.

“We [the 605th TES] play a crucial role in validating the effectiveness of battle management via ABMS,” said U.S Air Force Capt. Forrest Craven, 605th TES, Det. 1 battle management operational test officer. “The [testing] experience gained using the KC-46 for tactical C2 during onramp 3 will result in, ideally, an additional platform within ABMS or, minimally, enhanced software for the KC-46.”

The 605th TES assessed the initial capability and identified further areas for development and integration to bring the KC‑46 Pegasus under the umbrella of ABMS as a contributor to the Theater Air Control System.

According to U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Dameion Briggs, 605th TES Det. 1 commander, this onramp was just the beginning for the KC-46, and it still has a long road of testing and agile development to complete before it can fulfill a tactical C2 role.  

“Agile development is important to ensure we get the right capability to the warfighter in the right amount of time,” said Briggs.  “Historically, the traditional acquisition cycle took months, if not years, to produce a software change. The process involved program managers and software engineers making decisions that had little to no operator feedback or involvement, resulting in an end product that is late to need and did not meet the warfighter’s requirements.”

The agile development process ties operators and software developers together throughout the cycle, allowing for a “fly-fix-fly” model. This enables operators and test organizations to get their hands on the product early in the cycle, and provide feedback to the engineers who will quickly make changes and release the next version.

“The 605 TES’s involvement is continuous during agile development,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Francisco Gallei, 505th Test and Training Group commander, Hurlburt Field, Florida.  “Utilizing testers with vast tactical and operational backgrounds, we are well postured to take advantage of agile development concepts, because our testers are able to provide relevant operator feedback very early in the process, helping developers focus on those capabilities most relevant to the warfighter.”