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By Benjamin Newell, 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs
/ Published February 05, 2019
Runners participating in the North American Aerospace Defense Command 5k Tunnel Run exit the Cheyenne Mountain Complex through the north portal at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Colorado, May 10, 2018. Cheyenne Mountain relies on communications equipment sustained by Air Force Life Cycle Management Center personnel at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dennis Hoffman)
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Program managers here ushered a software program through production using agile practices that link two strategic early warning systems together, which would give senior leaders better information when suspected missile attacks are underway.
The upgraded system takes messages generated by combatant commands and pipes them through a Combatant Commanders Integrated Command and Control System, referred to as “KICS.”
“Essentially, this effort delivers unambiguous missile warning data to the warfighter, giving strategic decision-makers accurate and timely information, when required” said Col. Todd E. Wiest, senior materiel leader, Strategic Warning and Surveillance Systems Division. The division is part of the Digital Directorate headquartered at Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts.
“This was deemed a Joint Emergent Operational Need, so we worked the whole upgrade process in 18 months,” said 1st Lt. John Tippetts, sustainment lead for the system. “In short, we’re making sure the computer systems in Cheyenne Mountain can read and display all messages they receive.”
The program office worked with the Raytheon Co. to build the software over 10 months, at a cost of $3.2 million. Raytheon used agile methods to field and test the system, abridging some of the more time-consuming operational checks in favor of building a minimum viable product, and iterating improvements over time. The program office fielded a fully functional system in June 2018.
Next, the program office shipped the software to forward users throughout the world, including Pacific Command. There are approximately 50 global users who need the display upgrade to parse missile warning information.
“The system consists of about three million lines of code,” said John McConnell of Odyssey Systems Consulting Group, engineering lead for the project. “That’s about the size of a full operating system, like Windows. There were about 100 people putting this program together, and they made it fast, secure and reliable for a system that cannot fail.”