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Air Force Featured Stories

More companies enter ABMS innovation pipeline

  • Published
  • By Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs
The Department of the Air Force has selected eight additional companies to compete for the opportunity to develop, test and integrate new capabilities for the Advanced Battle Management Systems (ABMS). These companies will join 46 other companies on-boarded earlier this year to compete to develop new information and communications technologies to be evaluated in future onramp demonstration exercises for potential integration with the operational force.

Joint onramp exercises are the primary mechanisms to experiment, demonstrate, test and evaluate new ABMS capabilities in a fully integrated way for a complex operational scenario. Based on real test data and warfighter feedback, these capabilities can be advanced, modified, discarded or, if requested by combatant commanders, put immediately into operational use.

The next two onramps, scheduled to take place sequentially beginning in late August and in September, will be led by the commanders of U.S. Space Command and U.S. Northern Command, followed by U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. In the USSPACECOM and USNORTHCOM onramp, ABMS-provided systems will connect sensors and fires from ships, submarines, ground troops, aircraft and commercial satellites to shoot down simulated bombers, cruise missiles, unmanned vehicles as well as negate targets in other domains. In the USINDOPACOM onramp, ABMS-provided systems will begin to enable location and platform-agnostic command and control and information availability at the tactical edge in the Pacific.

“With ABMS we are stretching the limits of possibility for both joint all-domain operations and for defense acquisition,” said Dr. Will Roper, Air Force for Acquisitions, Technology and Logistics assistant secretary. “To overcome technically sophisticated adversaries, our forces need relevant data at machine speeds. ABMS is building a militarized Internet of Things to deliver it.”

The ABMS acquisition strategy is designed to spur competition and streamline the contracting process to the “speed of relevance” – weeks instead of months, months instead of years. The goal is to rapidly field capabilities that enable the Air Force and Space Force to operate together and with other military services – connecting sensors, decision makers and weapons through a secure data network enabling joint all-domain command and control (JADC2).

The contracting vehicle used to onboard these companies is Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ). These contracts provide each vendor the opportunity to receive anywhere from $1,000 to $950 million total over the next five years for work in up to seven different ABMS product categories. The primary objective of this vehicle is not development as traditionally understood in defense acquisition, but to enable more rapid competition leading to a fast operational tasking contract.

“Connecting sensors, decision makers and weapons with the right data across all domains can no longer be relegated to the ivory towers of military futurists – it is now an urgent operational imperative for the joint force,” said Preston Dunlap, Chief Architect of the Department of the Air Force. “This agile acquisition approach allows startups, commercial tech firms and other nontraditional players – along with our traditional industry partners – to bring the creativity and talent to achieve the ABMS mission.”

The companies added to the ID/IQ in this round include ARES Security, AT&T, Centauri, Cogniac, NanoVMs, Pacific Defense, SRC Inc. and Systematic.

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