by Patty Welsh
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs
7/16/2015 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- Operators
of a lab here that helps connect and disseminate command, control,
communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and
reconnaissance, or C4ISR, elements are collaborating with multiple
parties and producing benefits for all.
The Tactical Data Networks, or TDN, Lab is located with the Hanscom
Collaboration and Innovation Center and provides C4ISR expertise and
equipment. Operators there support quick reaction capability, joint
urgent operational needs, small business innovation research and rapid
innovation fund projects. The team provides rigorous systems engineering
and information assurance, along with rapid prototyping. They have an
expansive range of equipment and lab officials say they can recreate
problems warfighters face in the field today and help troubleshoot.
"We want to ensure we get the right data to the right warfighter at the
right time and in the right format in order for that warfighter to make
the right informed decision," said Steve Brown, senior TDN Lab engineer.
A recent event brought that capability to light, along with a new initiative that provides for efficient and effective testing.
The new Northeast Collaborative Research, Development, Test and
Evaluation Environment, or NCORE, concept brings together assets and
expertise from Air Force Life Cycle Management Center and New England
National Guard units.
"This concept allows for combining relevant experience, initiative and
equipment for local, state and federal collaboration on a multitude of
projects," said Lt. Col. Guy Spencer, Communications Systems Quick
Reaction Capability Branch materiel leader. "Projects utilizing the
NCORE concept and framework can drastically reduce program office costs
while helping to transition C4ISR-enabling technology -- that has been
operationally tested by warfighters -- to the tactical edge faster."
In June, personnel from LCMC and Rhode Island and Massachusetts National
Guard units executed the NCORE inaugural event: integrating Efficient
XML/Mobility Airborne-networking Multi-Layer Sensing, or EFX/MAMLS, into
the Dynamic Retasking Capability system on a 143rd Airlift Wing C-130J
aircraft. DRC enables real-time digital changes to a mission while the
aircraft is already in flight.
LCMC's TDN Lab provided the satellite communications connectivity,
ensuring all messaging passed correctly. The National Guard provided the
operators and aircraft. LCMC personnel both locally and from the KC-46
Development-Avionics Program Office at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base,
Ohio, along with contractor personnel, provided expertise on the system
upgrade installation and flight testing.
The team completed a number of flights to provide tactical relevancy.
Weather updates from the actual drop zone were provided to the aircraft
as it completed airdrops, and the EFX/MAMLS upgrade to the DRC system
was demonstrated to provide relevant and timely data while significantly
reducing SATCOM bandwidth requirements.
"Reducing satellite bandwidth to transmit C4ISR data elements will
reduce overall operational costs, and the faster message transmission
times achieved can potentially save lives in a tactical situation," said
Exhibiting another benefit, the DRC also received and transmitted
Mobility Enterprise Information Services Command and Control, or MEIS
C2, messages, which was not previously possible on this platform.
"This project exemplifies the original intent of the RIF [Rapid
Innovation Fund] program and the broad collaboration certainly
highlights it's a one-team Air Force effort," said John Slye, AFLCMC
Tanker Directorate Engineering director, whose team was evaluating this
As members of the TDN Lab look to test and prototype Department of
Defense technology by proactively aligning research, development, test
and evaluation, or RDT&E, project test schedules to New England
National Guard training cycles, savings can be garnered by reducing
flight testing and travel costs.
In addition, developers receive immediate warfighter feedback while the
Guard units are able to log flying hours and receive training on
"The Northeast collaborative is another example of the synergy created
between New England and, specifically, Massachusetts National Guard
units and Hanscom Air Force Base, which capitalizes on the rich
high-tech experience and expertise of our Soldiers, Airmen and
Civilians," said Maj. Gen. L. Scott Rice, the adjutant general of the
Massachusetts National Guard. "This combination is second to none and
will put all agencies involved at the forefront of technology.
According to lab officials, many of the participating Guard members also
feel a sense of pride and ownership for contributing to the successful
development of new capabilities.
The TDN Lab has a successful track record and has one of the largest
communications capabilities in the Northeast. Some previous achievements
include successful QRC risk reduction testing and providing support to
the Global Observer, a liquid hydrogen-powered unmanned aerial vehicle,
Joint Capabilities Technology Demonstration.
Upgrades are in the work for the TDN Lab. With the advent of a new
120-foot composite antenna mast, expected to be operational in November
2015, the lab's capabilities will multiply by being able to reach and
communicate with military operational areas in New York and Vermont. In
addition, the antenna mast will also support federal and state emergency
management agencies in cases of natural catastrophes or national
Currently, the lab works on approximately 20-24 projects per year and is hoping to grow its reach.
"We want people to know we don't do 'drive-by' fielding; we inject
technical rigor into the products under test in a relevant tactical
environment leading to a 'test as we fight' concept," said Brown.
"We're here to support AFLCMC and the entire DOD and now, with the NCORE
concept, we'll be able to expand on what we provide in a more efficient
and cost effective manner."
For more information about the TDN Lab or NCORE, contact the lab at (781) 225-6636 or DSN 845-6636.