EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
Air Force Test Center has a head start on executing initiatives to support the Air Force Materiel Command’s 2023 Strategic Plan in posturing efforts to deliver the advanced, integrated materiel capabilities the Air Force needs to deter aggression and prevail against modern adversarial threats. Particularly, in Line of Effort #3, “to revolutionize our processes” and “implement internal Enterprise Solutions and Digital Materiel Management in support of mission execution and the warfighter.”
Since the start of 2022, AFTC has developed a Digital Modernization Strategy, selected a new digital engineering lead, created action plan teams, and through the efforts of many people across the Enterprise is making progress toward this modernization effort.
In May 2022, AFTC conducted a Digital Engineering Test & Evaluation Summit, during which leaders laid the foundation for three goals and corresponding action plans in the AFTC Digital Modernization Strategy which was published in July 2022. Those goals are:
- Connect relevant test data and models to/from external organizations via digital tools to inform system design & strategy; and verify and validate digital models
- Develop, deliver, and sustain the people, processes, and test capabilities needed to enable the test and evaluation of aerospace systems thru the application of digital engineering principles
- Develop the Knowledge Management – Big Data Analytics capabilities of the future to capture, distribute and effectively analyze and engage with large data sets attained from weapon system testing to support informed decision making
Subsequently, action plan teams comprised of members and leads from each of the AFTC wings were launched to further advance digital modernization at AFTC.
“This is an enterprise effort,” said John Grigaliunas, AFTC tech advisor for flight test. “Each action plan team will provide deliverables to assist with AFTC digital modernization efforts.”
The new AFTC digital engineering lead position was recently filled by Christopher Hereford, who is currently planning an AFTC Digital Engineering Test & Evaluation Workshop at Edwards AFB slated for April 25-27 as a follow-on to last year’s summit. It will provide a special focus on Goals 1 and 2.
“We have organized teams to tackle improving both our external and internal processes from a digital engineering perspective. We believe the workshop in April will demonstrate our successes and help identify the remaining hurdles,” said Hereford.
Strategy goals tend to intertwine. Successful efforts, as exampled in goal three, will directly impact digital engineering with external partners (Goal 1) and digital engineering for internal process improvements (Goal 2).
Progress and initiatives made in goal three (knowledge management and big data analytics) will help expedite enterprise solutions. Specifically, in five focus areas: infrastructure, platforms, applications, people, and processes.
Through improved infrastructure, AFTC seeks to maximize the use of enterprise capabilities. Initiatives to increase bandwidth at Eglin AFB, Edwards AFB, and Arnold AFB to provide faster internal and external connectivity are already underway. Additionally, AFTC is imagining a Next-Gen Data Center, an enterprise-hybrid cloud solution connecting on-premise systems to each other and to the cloud. Access to an enterprise environment with increased bandwidth will allow personnel to more readily access and share data needed to make informed decisions.
Initiatives with digital platforms include exploration and use of DAF Big 6 Data Platforms including VAULT, Unified Data Library, and Envision; use of Platform One and Cloud One as directed by SAF; dedicated AFTC cloud environments in FENCES and Big Bang as a Service. These data platforms provide cloud capabilities for software development and data analytics to maximize collaboration within the Air Force data community.
In digital applications, several more initiatives are currently in the works, including the migration of a web-based Information System for the Enterprise to Cloud One; the development of Test Flag apps by Multi-Domain Test Force; a joint software development project with 96 TW & 412 TW for Enterprise Schedule, Plan, Execute, Report; and the exploration and use of enterprise suites like CHEETAS (from Training Resource Management Center) and OPAL (from 309th Software Engineering Group). These cloud-based applications will automate and standardize many processes for AFTC personnel across the three wings.
To further progress, AFTC has a team in DAF365 Teams dedicated to data platforms and analytic tools.
“We formed the AFTC Data Community in DAF365 Teams to provide a collaborative environment for subject matter experts, designers, developers, data scientists, and users to communicate and learn about innovative tools for managing, analyzing, and sharing data," said John Volk, AFTC chief data officer.
Anyone interested in becoming more involved with test-related digital modernization efforts can join the “AFTC Data Community” team or attend the weekly grassroots Next Gen Data Working Group that meets Fridays on DAF365 Teams at 8 a.m. PT where representation from the three AFTC wings, AFOTEC, and other test organizations discuss requirements and efforts to support test.