WASHINGTON — The Air Force wrapped up Dec. 18 the first test of its new Advanced Battle Management System, a key technology the service is banking on to connect the information collected by various platforms into a complete picture of the battlespace.

During the three day field test, Air Force, Navy and Army platforms worked together to rapidly share data about a simulated a potential cruise missile attack on the United States, the Air Force said in a news release Dec. 20.

The cruise missile — simulated using by QF-16s — was detected by an undisclosed weapon system and relayed to Air Force F-22s, Air Force and Navy F-35s, the Navy destroyer Thomas Hudner, an Army unit equipped with the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, as well as special operators.

That information, as well as other data from platforms participating in the exercise, was then pushed to a control room where leaders could watch updates in real time.

According to an Air Force news release, the technology under development in the ABMS program will give platforms the ability to simultaneously receive, fuse and act upon a massive collection of data from all domains instantaneously.

The service stated ABMS will require “software and algorithms so that artificial intelligence and machine learning can compute and connect vast amounts of data from sensors and other sources at a speed and accuracy far beyond what is currently attainable” as well as hardware updates that include “radios, antenna, and more robust networks.”

However, the service provided sparse detail about what kinds of technologies were used in the first experiment to link Air Force, Navy, and Army equipment together, saying only that “new software, communications equipment and a ‘mesh network’” linked together assets. It did not say whether artificial intelligence had been introduced to crunch data and send it to users who would benefit from that information.

The Air Force plans to hold similar demonstrations every four months in order to push forward the ABMS concept.

“The goal is to move quickly and deliver quickly. We want to show it can be done and then we want to push ourselves to continually enhance and expand our capability,” said Preston Dunlap, the Air Force’s chief architect charged with overseeing ABMS.

The Air Force expects to spend $185 million in fiscal 2020 for ABMS, the service said in its release.

Valerie Insinna is Defense News' air warfare reporter. She previously worked the Navy/congressional beats for Defense Daily, which followed almost three years as a staff writer for National Defense Magazine. Prior to that, she worked as an editorial assistant for the Tokyo Shimbun’s Washington bureau.

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