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Industry gets schooled on MDC2

Lt. Col. Randy Gordon of the Air Force’s AFWERX program addresses more than 100 industry representatives during the Feb. 20 Multi-Domain Command and Control Industry Day, held at the Minuteman Educational Center in Lexington, Mass. Gordon compared AFWERX and MDC2 efforts with the Doolittle Raiders, who innovated and iterated their way to launch bombers off aircraft carriers to strike at the industrial heart of Japan during World War II. (U.S. Air Force photo by Jerry Saslav)

Lt. Col. Randy Gordon of the Air Force’s AFWERX program addresses more than 100 industry representatives during the Feb. 20 Multi-Domain Command and Control Industry Day, held at the Minuteman Regional High School in Lexington, Mass. Gordon compared AFWERX and MDC2 efforts with the Doolittle Raiders, who innovated and iterated their way to launch bombers off aircraft carriers to strike at the industrial heart of Japan during World War II. (U.S. Air Force photo by Jerry Saslav)

LEXINGTON, Mass. – Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts projected its quiet power during the Multi-Domain Command and Control Industry Day, Feb. 20, at the Minuteman Educational Center, according to speaker Eileen Vidrine, the Air Force's chief data officer. 

Vidrine spoke to representatives from more than 100 companies representing major defense contractors, small businesses and non-traditional partners. Attendees heard descriptions of upcoming Air Force requirements to better plan their investment and research strategies. This would align them with the Air Force’s goal to make decisions based on an ecosystem of sensor data, rather than one single input, by 2030.

“We must push every day to add to our data toolbox,” said Vidrine. “Those tools include technology, people, and most of all, culture.”

She cited Hanscom’s work building a common computing environment as an effort that will make data integration and multi-domain operations possible in the future. It is evidence of “quiet power” that takes the form of quickly acquiring systems that have strategic, long-term implications for operators, she said.

Sheryl Thorp, deputy director of the MDC2 integration office at Hanscom, also presented several upcoming opportunities for companies to contribute technological solutions to the problems faced by overwhelming data in combat. One such opportunity, called ‘Shadow Net,’ will create a specific data location where multiple sensors can input information, and Airmen and combatant commanders can read and process that information in order to make fully informed battlefield decisions. Shadow Net currently exists as a construct between seven locations throughout the United States, and Thorp asked interested partners to work with the Air Force to make it better.

“Our current command and control technology is out of date,” said Thorp. “While that might not cause problems now, we must plan for a future where that outdated technology can be exploited and make our best efforts to find solutions wherever they are.”

Thorp led MDC2 industry day in the Minuteman Regional High School auditorium. The school and the base have an education partnership agreement. Following presentations from AFWERX, the MDC2 office and the Air Force Chief Data Officer, industry representatives got a chance to speak one-on-one with Air Force acquisition specialists in individual classrooms. AFWERX hosts events designed to connect industry problem solvers with military requirements.