Teams led by Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman have each received contracts to refine requirements for the battle management command and control (BMC2) "rear end" of the US Air Force's planned E-10A multi-sensor command and control aircraft (MC2A), based on Boeing's 767-400ER.

Under the six-month, $4 million pre-system development and demonstration (SDD) contracts, the teams will demonstrate early prototypes of their proposed BMC2 solutions. At the end of pre-SDD phase, one team will be selected for the $240 million development contract. Northrop Grumman, teamed with Boeing and Raytheon, is already weapon system integrator on the MC2A, and Boeing has received a contract to build the E-10A testbed aircraft.

Under its pre-SDD contract, Northrop Grumman plans to conduct a series of demonstrations, or "constellations", in the crew area virtual environment (CAVE) at its Melbourne, Florida, facility - a 12m (40ft)-long section of E-10 cabin equipped with operator consoles representing those being proposed for the BMC2.

A team of engineers is being trained to operate the CAVE as if it were the MC2A, says Mark Lindsley, BMC2 deputy programme manager.

Increment 1 of the MC2A will carry the Northrop Grumman/Raytheon multi-platform radar technology insertion programme active-array radar and will be tasked with airborne ground surveillance and cruise missile defence.

The number of operators on board has still to be decided, but will be between 30 and 50 depending on the mission mix between time-sensitive targeting, special operations and cruise missile defence. "We need the flexibility to do a wide range of missions," says Lindsley.

Source: Flight International