GEELONG, Australia—Boeing has built a ground installation of Australian military mission systems for economical evaluation of current and modified performance of interacting aircraft, ships and the national integrated air plot.                                                                       

Quite distinct from simulation software, the setup consists of the same equipment and software installed in E-7 Wedgetails, P-8 Poseidons and EA-18 Growlers, warships and the Vigilare ground command and control system, all Boeing products.

The company is talking to other manufacturers about adding mission systems from their products to the installation, the Joint Battle Management Development Environment (JBMDE), says Shane Arnott, director of the international wing of Boeing’s Phantom Works technology unit.

The objective of the JBMDE is to observe how systems work together—in current configurations, in normal conditions, when modified, when subjected to enemy interference, when equipped with new weapons, when under kinetic attack, and so on. The focus on interaction reflects the strenuous drive in the Australian Defense Force (ADF) for widespread networking and exploiting of information, an effort called Plan Jericho.

Some tests require simulated features—for example, the firing of a weapon or the degradation of a communications link. But Boeing says because the JBMDE’s elements are the same as what is in operation, it should far more accurately represent in-service performance than wholly simulated or modeled assessments. As a ground installation it can be used to run tests much more cheaply than can be done with aircraft and ships.

Revealing the existence of the program at the Australian International Airshow, the company will not say exactly what will be done with the system. But likely examples would be determining the capability that a Poseidon would gain if track data from a nearby Wedgetail were improved, how badly jamming of a certain data link would affect battle management, and whether deletion of an old subsystem would make much difference to the performance of a force in combat.

Work began a year ago on the installation, which is now fully operational at Boeing’s Brisbane, Australia, operation, the company says. Although ground installations of mission systems are not unusual, as far as Boeing knows this is the most comprehensive setup built so far. The Plan Jericho drive inspired the effort, Boeing says.

Some of the equipment in the installation was newly built, some made years ago in development programs, and some is civil but loaded with the actual mission software.
Boeing was in an unusual position to create something like the Jbmde because the company has or soon will provide so many of the ADF’s systems that produce and can exploit large amounts of high-quality information.

But Boeing is not alone in providing advanced, highly connected systems to Australia. While Arnott does not name the companies that Boeing is talking to about expanding the Jbmde, the Royal Australian Air Force will surely want to add the mission systems of the forthcoming Lockheed Martin F-35 Lighting and Northrop Grumman MQ-4 Triton. Another priority is likely to be the Lockheed Martin Aegis system installed in a class of three destroyers that will enter service in the next few years.

[Editor's Note: This story was amended to correct the name of Boeing's Vigilare, an Australian command and control system.]