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Edwards announces Voice Communication System Upgrade contract

A mission control room inside the Ridley Mission Control Center is shown before planned upgrades take effect at Edwards Air Force Base, California. (Courtesy file photo)

A mission control room inside the Ridley Mission Control Center is shown before planned upgrades take effect at Edwards Air Force Base, California. (Courtesy file photo)


The Voice Communication System Upgrade (VCSU) project, a current Improvement & Modernization (I&M) Program, awarded an Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract to Compunetix, Inc. Federal Systems Division, June 23, at Edwards Air Force Base, California. 

The IDIQ contract will serve as the vehicle for the procurement of the appropriate equipment required to upgrade and modernize the capabilities of the Edwards Mission Voice Communications System.

The knowledge, dedication, professionalism, and hard work provided by the entire VCSU Team was responsible for the successful award of this IDIQ contract. Without the steadfast efforts of the entire VCSU Team there would be no VCSU and no IDIQ contract. A list of principal VCSU Team members is provided below. This is only a partial list of the numerous participants that have contributed to this challenging endeavor since its inception.

The 812 TSS/ENTI Program Manager was represented by Philip Cheng. The 412 RANS/ENREE Technical Program Managers were represented by Michael Leik, Boris Juarez Michael Vining. Support from the 412 TENG/ENG Business Office was provided by Robert Huggins and contracting expertise from the AFTC/PZIEA was provided by Jenna Jacobson. An additional note of recognition goes to Leik for his dedicated efforts as the principle system architect of the VCSU Mission Voice Communications System for Edwards.    

The purpose of the VCSU Program is to replace and modernize the ageing voice communications system currently used to support flight test operations within the Ridley Mission Control Center (RMCC) and Birk Flight Test Facility (BFTF) Mission Control Rooms and various support facilities throughout the Air Force Test Center (AFTC). Current flight test operations at the AFTC include, but are not limited to, test missions for the F-22 Raptor, F-35 Lightning II, F-16 Fighting Falcon, B-1 Lancer, B-2 Spirit, B-52 Stratofortress, C-17 Globemaster, and Global Hawk programs.

Future test missions are projected to include the next generation of fighter, bomber, and trainer programs as they are developed and deployed for flight test evaluation. The Edwards Mission Voice Communications System provided by the VCSU project will satisfy the vital voice communications service requirements for each of these programs for the next 20 years and potentially beyond.

The current mission voice communication system in operation at the AFTC is the Federated Edwards Digital Switch (FEDS). The FEDS system is based on aging Time Division Multiplexing (TDM) technology. FEDS is rapidly approaching end-of-life and therefore requires replacement prior to reaching non-supportable obsolescence. A capabilities upgrade by leveraging the advantages of modern Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology is also required. VCSU accomplishes both of these tasks and will operate seamlessly with the modern Internet Protocol (IP) network that has replaces the antiquated Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) and TDM based transport infrastructure used to distribute voice, data, and video throughout the test range environment in support of daily flight test operations. The selected manufacturer of the new Edwards Mission Voice Communications System, Compunetix, Inc. Federal Systems Division, has, to date, successfully deployed their CONTEX MVP system to over 200 government and private organizations that require the reliable, dependable performance of a secure, critical mission voice system. VCSU easily meets the current requirements for flight test communications support at Edwards AFB and, with its innovative technological design and dedicated vendor commitment to long term support, will integrate seamlessly into any foreseeable paradigm shifts in philosophy that may occur for future mission control room operations.

Award of the IDIQ contract by AFTC/PZ will ensure seamless acquisition of the required VCSU equipment from FY20 – FY25. This is important because the ordering and delivery of equipment takes time and upgrades must be accomplished when daily flight test operations allow and Mission Control Rooms are not in use. As a result, all equipment must be on-site before a Mission Control Rooms can be upgraded.

In summary, the IDIQ contract award and the subsequent procurement and installation of the VCSU Mission Voice Communications System at Edwards AFB, will properly meet all requirements for reliable, dependable, and secure voice communication between Flight Test Assets and the associated test personnel within, and external to, the supporting Mission Control Rooms for the next two decades and possibly beyond. Innovative technology within the system will also ensure future cross utilized upgrades across the AFTC and other Ranges are easier to implement and integrate. 

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