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MISSION PLANNING MOVES TO TANKERS

By Roy Heitman
ESC Public Affairs

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. (May 6, 1997) -- The Air Force Mission Support System Version C2.0 has been certified for operational use on KC-135R Stratotankers.

` Developed by Electronic Systems Center’s Mission Planning system program office, the major upgrade of the systems core software will be used first by the 92nd Air Refueling Wing, Fairchild AFB, Wash. The upgrade improves systems stability, performance and functionality.

The Air Force Mission Support System "was found to provide an effective mission planning capability for the KC-135R," said a status report prepared by the Air Force Operational and Test Center at Eglin AFB, Fla. Aircrew feedback was said to be positive and participants felt the system provided a significant improvement over current mission planning capabilities.

During the course of the tests in March, more than 90 missions were planned with the system by operational aircrews. Tests included both the core system software and the Aircraft/Weapons/Electronics module for the KC-135R. These modules provide unique aircraft and weapons mission planning functions for more than 30 platforms supported by the Air Force Mission Support System.

Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center evaluated the systems ability to generate accurate and valid flight planning results; navigation and en route planning performance data, mission planning time and system usability.

"The fielding of AFMSS for the KC-135R is a significant milestone and was only possible through the hard work of the entire AFMSS community to include the users, development contractors, testers and the system program office team," said Program Director Col. Bruce G. Hevey.

"While success in the KC-135 operational test and evaluation and subsequent fielding decision was satisfying to us, we all know that it is only the first of 30 implementations which must be tested," Hevey said. "Major tests over the next 12 months which will truly challenge the power of the system will include the B-2, F-117A, B-52H and B-1B operational tests and evaluation.

"Team AFMSS must continue to work hard to produce and field a family of mission planning systems which will meet the demanding needs of our aviation forces."

Production of the system began in December 1992 when Sanders Information Systems Division of Lockheed Martin was selected to develop and produce the Air Force Mission Support System for eventual use by Air Force flying units around the world.

With previous systems, pilots had to rely on maps and slide rules in planning their missions, often taking as much as eight to 12 hours. Now computers do much of the work, cutting the time to about two hours.

Earlier versions C1.0 and C1.5 of the system’s core software have been released with limitations for use on Air Force C-17A Globemaster III, C-130 Hercules and C-141B Starlifter transports; F-16 Fighting Falcon, A-10 Thunderbolt II and F-15 Eagle fighters; B-52 Stratofortress bombers and the EF-111 electronic warfare aircraft.

"I can do a mission from scratch in 45 minutes with the new system," said First Lt. Daniel B. Swecker, a B-52H navigator with the 96th Bomb Squadron at Barksdale AFB, La. "I can also reference an older, earlier mission and use that to do a new mission in 20 minutes or less if it is similar. For missions the might be almost the same, I can plan in five minutes."

The system is also used by other crew members, Swecker said. "The copilot does most of the planning for fuels. He can use my plan and do his part in five or 10 minutes instead of the 45 minutes it took him in the past."

Air crews use the system for pre-mission planning and post-mission debriefing. Air Force Mission Support System is capable of flight planning, route planning, weapons delivery and target area tactics, radar predictions, mapping and imagery, and post-flight analysis and debriefing.


For more information, contact Roy Heitman via email- [email protected] or call at ESC's Office of Public Affairs - (617) 377-4466


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