By Caitlin O'Neill, APNT CFT Public Affairs and Brandon Pollachek, PEO IEW&S Public AffairsNovember 9, 2018
Huntsville, AL -- Less than a year after reaching Initial Operating Capability, the Assured Positioning, Navigation and Timing (APNT) Cross-Functional Team (CFT) submitted its first requirement for Army Senior Leadership approval, cutting the requirement approval process by more than two years. In October, the APNT CFT submitted the Mounted APNT system requirement, which aims to provide position and time data with the aid of non-Global Positioning System (GPS) augmentation to Soldier platforms operating in GPS degraded or denied environments. This is just one result of the fundamental change the Army Futures Command (AFC) has established as it strives to increase Soldier readiness and streamline system development.
Mr. Willie Nelson, APNT CFT Director, and his team have been working across the Army to get the Mounted APNT requirement approved. "We have struggled for years to codify and write a requirement for something as ubiquitous as PNT," Mr. Nelson said. "It's difficult to write a requirement for something a system needs but is hard to quantify." The team ultimately decided to breakdown the larger Assured PNT requirement into three separate requirements -- Mounted, Dismounted, and Situational Awareness -- making them more manageable and agile. "Originally, we wanted a requirement that provided a system of systems approach for APNT. That requirement was too big and too broad," said Mr. Nelson. "Now, we have three smaller requirements, which will be easier to test against and field quickly."
The Army Modernization Strategy has charged the AFC, and its corresponding CFTs, to reduce the "time to deliver" new weapons systems, which includes a significant reduction of the requirements development process to 12 months or less. To do this, the APNT CFT team did three things.
1. Introduced the Soldier early on in the requirement development process to ensure operational capability and system functionality not only met the needs of the Warfighter, but provided an advantage to future formations.
2. Reorganized the requirement document, cutting it down to only seven pages in length. This allowed reviewers and approvers to focus on the requirement itself, without having to sift through supplemental information and documentation.
3. Streamlined the approval process. Following internal staffing, the APNT CFT followed a non-traditional approach to expedite consensus from operational community and approval from Army Senior Leaders.
Army Senior Leadership has been supportive of the APNT CFT's non-traditional approach. "Getting this requirement written and approved was truly a team effort," said Mr. Nelson. "Throughout the development and approval process our priority was to ensure that our Soldiers get the capabilities and systems they need to operate successfully on the battlefield. I'm encouraged by the support we've received from our counterparts and Senior Leaders."
As the first requirement for the APNT CFT was being drafted, Mr. Nelson and his team coordinated regularly with Army Program Executive Offices, the Army Rapid Capabilities Office, Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), and the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology, as well as the science and technology (S&T), industry, and academic communities. Two organizations in particular, TRADOC Capabilities Manager -- Tactical Radios (TCM-TR) and the Project Manager for Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PM PNT), played a significant role in finalizing the requirement.
"The key to the rapid development of the Mounted APNT requirement was focusing our documents to bring the most pertinent information forward to decision makers and users," said COL Daniel Kuntz, TCM-TR. "We tightly worked with tactical units, materiel developers, and testers coupling technological innovation and operational feedback in order to give our Soldiers the best equipment available."
The Army is in the process of selecting vendors for a Mounted APNT prototype delivery, which will be tested on performance, electromagnetic interference, and reliability/durability before being selected for a cooperative test-fix-test corrective action cycle and early user assessment. Pending results, the Army hopes to fund an effort for additional prototypes to support an operational assessment.
"Accelerating the process of developing and fielding the latest PNT capabilities to the Soldier is essential to preserving America's interests and reassuring our allies throughout the globe," said COL Nick Kioutas, Project Manager for PNT. PM PNT is using Other Transaction Authority contracts to rapidly develop APNT solutions such as Mounted.
The Mounted requirement is the first of three APNT CFT requirements under development. The team is currently drafting the Dismounted APNT requirement, which is expected to be ready for Army Senior Leadership review 1QFY19.
What Comes Next
The APNT CFT has taken a holistic approach to PNT modernization. In addition to requirements development, the APNT CFT completed an Initial Training Assessment that showed a growing awareness of PNT training and identified opportunities for future trainings and school house education; initiated the development of a modeling and simulation solution to inform future APNT requirements and decision making; and continue to prioritize APNT S&T efforts across the Army to enable faster delivery of operational capability to the Warfighter. The team is currently preparing for a Partnership Day in Austin, TX February/March 2019 where it plans to provide industry and academic partners with technical and program of record roadmaps.
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The APNT CFT is responsible for narrowing existing PNT capability gaps and developing PNT requirements that result in significant technological advancements. To do this, the APNT CFT connects the soldier to new technologies and capabilities sooner through technological demonstrations, prototyping, S&T reviews, and requirements development. These efforts allows the APNT CFT to learn fast, mitigate risks early on, and achieve a higher level of technical readiness more rapidly. The APNT CFT is in the process of evaluating various technologies that will modernize APNT PNT -- making systems more resilient and secure, ensuring future generations of America's soldiers get what they need, when they need it, and remain the most lethal and effective land force in the world.