Planning a system’s entire life cycle

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- An office here that provides early analysis of major acquisition programs for Hanscom's program managers recently became a branch of the Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence and Networks Directorate.

The Development Planning office began its reorganization from a division within Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, to a branch of Hanscom’s Special Programs Division within the C3I&N Directorate in May. The change does not impact manning, and since all personnel already worked at Hanscom, none are required to move.

“We bring a lot of expertise to bear for programs,” said Thomas Kennedy, deputy chief of the Development Planning branch. “Our tools include modeling and simulation software, giving program managers an idea of the cost of potential replacements for existing and future platforms and weapons systems. At a very early stage, we can model scenarios and game out options.” 

The Development Planning team is charged with equipping the force for future challenging operational environments. The office is currently supporting two capability development analysis projects.

One is in the early acquisition stages and has the goal of upgrading a command and control system housed at North American Air Defense, Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, designed to warn senior leaders of an impending nuclear attack. Findings are expected in June 2018.

Another project focuses on future concepts for advanced battle management and surveillance capabilities. Efforts on ABMS provide the warfighter with command and control capabilities currently conducted by E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft. Analysis of this project is expected to be complete by March 2018.  


“We are excited because this move aligns our capability development activity to better support Hanscom’s program executive officers with cost-effective solution analysis products,” said Michael Canavan, chief of the new branch. “Experimentation efforts we have access to here at Hanscom will better inform capability development for the weapons systems Hanscom acquires and manages.”


The Development Planning branch also manages the Hanscom Collaboration and Innovation Center.  The HCIC is posturing to be a viable location for experimentation of future concepts, such as Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein’s collaboration team for Multi-Domain Command and Control.

The HCIC arm of Development Planning executes PlugTests, providing acquisition programs with access to nontraditional suppliers who have little or no history working with the Department of Defense.

PlugTest efforts are short-duration efforts to prototype new technologies to meet well-defined cyber, or other program, needs. The office recently completed a PlugTest of software for use in Air Mobility Command’s 18,000 electronic flight bags, an effort lauded by Goldfein.

In an April 2017 memo to capability development forum leaders, Goldfein laid out 10 principles for capability development, designed to ensure requirements personnel and acquisition leaders focus on multi-functional, plan-based approaches to weapons development. The letter says the Air Force must “expand our capability discussions from a platform with inherent capabilities to a capability achieved through a system, or networks, of platforms.”

“Our office aims to support the chief’s vision by creatively exploring several possible angles to come up with concepts to fulfill the big picture need,” said Canavan. “Capability Development gives decision makers information they need, including cost, schedule and performance in the trade space analysis, so programs can be established with realistic expectations.”