Mission Need Statement (MNS)

HQ USAF 001-96





Director of Operations

DCS/Plans and Operations


Phone: (301) 981-4790

DSN: 858-4790




HQ USAF 001-96

1. Defense Planning Guidance Element.

The FY 1996-2001 Defense Planning Guide (DPG) states: “US armed forces will be sized, trained, and equipped to be ready to perform a range of military operations, including deterring and, if necessary, fighting and winning major regional conflicts, performing overseas presence duties, and conducting peace operations.” ... “Components will continue to develop a family of joint strategic Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence (C4I) systems based on an open architecture and designed to support strategic and theater forces.”... “Components will develop and maintain a mobile C4I capability to support crisis and contingency operations.”... “Services rapidly will develop and field, as a high priority, an integrated enhanced identification capability to reduce the risk of fratricide to armor, aircraft, and ships.”... “Integrate, where required, the new civil air traffic control functions (Mode S) into a new identification equipment and pursue cooperation on these systems with allies to ensure interoperability and reduce costs.”

2. Mission and Threat Analyses.

a. The mission of USAF ATCALS is to enhance combat forces by providing for the safe, orderly, expeditious launch and recovery of aircraft throughout delegated airspace in the United States as well as host nation assigned airspace throughout the world. Air traffic control (ATC) services must be provided in all weather conditions to military and civil aircraft. This mission is accomplished in two methods: (1) fixed-base facilities provide service at CONUS and overseas bases; (2) mobile equipment provides similar capabilities to support theater tactical combat operations and combat airspace management.

b. Key elements of the fixed and mobile systems include: control towers, approach controls, and base operations utilizing ground-based navigational aides (NAVAIDS), radars, radio communications, telecommunication voice switches, notice-to-airmen (NOTAM) systems, airspace management systems, and associated computers and software to operate a fully integrated ATC system.

c. The current fixed and mobile ATC systems are composed of numerous electronic components, several produced in the 1950's. These systems are becoming technologically obsolete and expensive to maintain. We are currently addressing these weaknesses in two ways:

(1) For fixed locations, the DoD, through the DoD ATCALS Interoperability with the National Airspace System (DAIN) MNS, is participating with the FAA to upgrade the voice switches, radars, and automation systems. Additionally, to address the need for the next generation of precision approach capability, AFFSA was designated the lead for the Navy and Air Force Joint Precision Approach and Landing Capability (JPALS) MNS.

(2) For mobile systems, the Air Force is fielding a new mobile control tower and is modifying the TPN-19, mobile radar approach control.

d. These efforts do not adequately address the long-term need. The DAIN MNS only addresses fixed CONUS sites. Modifying the TPN-19 mobile radar approach control will only maintain the viability of existing systems and maintain compatibility with near-term planned systems. Neither is capable of addressing the need to be compatible with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) long-term efforts.

e. The FAA, along with the ICAO, are currently implementing plans that will revolutionize the world's communications, navigation, and surveillance system. The entire worldwide air traffic system will evolve from a ground-based to space-based system (e.g., ground-based NAVAIDS like the Tactical Air Navigation System will be replaced with the Global Positioning System (GPS), and ground-based control centers will transmit ATC instructions to and receive aircraft position information from the space-based system) driving changes in both avionics and ground equipment requirements. The Air Force must continue to provide the same service as the FAA and host nations, updating or replacing outdated and hard to maintain systems as needed. This need must be addressed in parallel with FAA and ICAO planned upgrades starting in 1997 and continuing through 2010. This is the number one priority in ATC.

f. Specific threats to ATC equipment will fall into three broad categories: physical destruction, electronic warfare, and information warfare. The increasing availability of sophisticated communications and computer technologies has placed state-of-the-art information warfare systems in the hands of potential adversaries. Detailed information documenting these threats can be found in the following: (1) NAIC Threat Compendium--Worldwide Threat to Air Bases, 1995-2005, 1 Sep 94, NAIC-2660F-265-95 (S); (2) AFMC/ESC Intelligence Threat Assessment for Regional Operational Control Center/Sector Operational Control Center, Nov 93, ESC/IN-2660O-09-93 (S/Rel CAN); and (3) Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence (C4I) Systems and Networks; Telecommunications Networks; and Automated Information Systems (AIS) Threat Environment Description, 15 Jan 94, DST-2660F-210-94 (U).

3. Nonmateriel Alternatives.

We cannot alter our training, tactics, doctrine, or strategy to meet future changes in mobile and fixed equipment requirements. However, we could change our operations concept and negotiate with the FAA to assume our military approach control authority. This option was studied during the DAIN Cost and Operational Effectiveness Analysis and found not to be feasible. The FAA is not equipped, staffed, or funded to absorb these functions at all USAF locations. Additionally, this solution would not address overseas military locations.

4. Potential Materiel Alternatives.

a. First, we could modify current mobile and fixed systems including those obtained under the NAS program. This would require modifying multiple fixed equipment systems--approach control radars, display equipment, controller workstations, and voice control switch equipment--to meet the new performance requirements. All mobile systems would require significant modification.

b. Second, as the preferred solution, the Air Force could procure new systems. Several aerospace vendors produce Non-Developmental Item (NDI) ATC systems which include multi-sensor tracking, console display equipment, voice/data link communications, and fully integrated software packages that will interface with, and meet, FAA and ICAO standards. Potential precision approach and landing system alternatives include augmented GPS, synthetic/enhanced vision systems, and the Microwave Landing System. The joint solution will be developed under the previously mentioned JPALS MNS.

5. Constraints.

a. We must sustain our current ATCALS while transitioning to the new architecture. Sustainment will allow for a graceful transfer of function without degrading existing ATC and navigation services until all US military aircraft have completed appropriate avionics upgrade. Hence, the new system must also be backward compatible with existing ATC systems. Further, no additional manpower authorizations should be required to operate and maintain the new system.

b. The future fixed system must fit into existing facilities and occupy no more space than existing equipment. Mobile components shall be configurable and sized for deployment so as to minimize airlift requirements. However, the system must not provide air traffic controllers less functionality than exists in today's systems or is gained during the NAS modernization program (e.g., provide a stand-alone dynamic simulator like the one projected to be available in NAS automation).

c. To provide the capability for fixed-base and mobile operations into the next century, the system must accept multiple sensor input (ground-based, airborne, and space-based) and be fully interoperable with existing and forecasted DoD command, control, communications, and computer systems. Therefore, it must comply with applicable information technology standards contained in the Technical Architecture Framework for Information Management. Additionally, it must be capable of interfacing with airfield defense (data and voice) and NAS facilities (analog and digital data). Due to operations in foreign countries, the new fixed and mobile system must fully interoperate with FAA, ICAO, and NATO current and developing ATC systems.

d. Air Force ATC facilities must provide the same level of service as the FAA and host nations. This equivalent level of service must be transparent to the user. In order to provide equivalent service, both mobile and fixed-base facilities must be capable of exchanging aircraft position and flight plan information with adjacent systems--both domestic and foreign.

e. It should provide resistance to intentional and unintentional electromagnetic interference and Electronic Counter Measures comparable to those of other command and control systems. However, it does not require nuclear hardening or extensive Electronic Counter Measures design which would exceed nondevelopment item technology. The new system must possess at least the same level of security as existing systems including protection to prevent information warfare activities--exploitation of voice and data information.

f. The system should provide controllers and maintenance personnel equivalent levels of protection from nuclear, biological, or chemical contamination as today's systems. Controllers and maintenance personnel wearing biological or chemical protection gear should be able to operate and maintain the equipment. Exterior components of the system must be weather resistant and be able to sustain normal operations in extreme environmental conditions.

g. The new ATC system must provide the capability to automatically track airspace and range use for assets located within the coverage of the air traffic system. However, this should be a noninterfering secondary function of the new system.

6. Joint Potential Designator:

The Joint Potential Designator is Joint Interest.