Pax River Computer Ensures Solid Nuke Communications
Ensuring reliable strategic communications for national defense recently became easier since the newest mission computer for the E-6B Mercury has reached the fleet.
Installation of the Mission Computer System version 10 (MCS-10) on 15 E-6B aircraft and three training devices was completed last winter, and the system declared Full Operational Capability (FOC) this spring. Following FOC, the program office delivered one software update, all spares, updated the MCS-10 test bench and submitted final Emergency Action Message (EAM) certification to the Joint Chiefs of Staff for approval.
The MCS-10 utilizes open system commercial and government off-the-shelf hardware and software, which provides a low-cost and low-risk solution with additional margin for growth. The new system incorporates all of version eight’s capabilities and is based on previous chassis design, which allows for a form/fit installation.
For the warriors of the Take Charge and Move Out (TACAMO) community, the MCS is at the heart of all strategic data communication links aboard the E-6B and makes it possible to receive and transmit EAM’s from the President to deployed U.S. Strategic Forces capable of delivering nuclear weapons.
Extra capability was also added for the U.S. Strategic Command’s Airborne Command Post (ABNCP) mission to automate two-way messages between the MCS-10 and battlestaff mission equipment relied on for battlespace management. The two-way data capability significantly frees up battlestaff crewmembers from unnecessary administrative duties of processing complex data messages used to maintain command and control in a demanding environment when every second counts.
The Mission Avionics program team, led by Gary Young and Jim Heim, continues to evaluate MCS-10 capability and the system’s capacity to support TACAMO and ABNCP mission requirements.
Initial contractor and developmental testing was completed in March 2008 and May 2009. Following testing prioritized deficiencies were corrected and additional requirements were introduced to expand capability for the ABNCP mission prior to MCS-10 fleet introduction.
Final developmental testing was completed by Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 20 personnel here in September 2010, followed by Fleet Introduction Team (FIT) checks to operationally assess the added capability with the U.S. Strategic Command in November 2010.
The month-long fleet Introduction check and deployment was the first time the program office utilized the FIT team, recently stood up at Tinker AFB, Okla., to bridge the gap between successful developmental testing and actual fleet operations and maintainability by Sailors.
Source: PEO(T) Public Affairs