WASHINGTON (Army News Service, March 29, 2007) - The Army's next-generation airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform has a new runway to get off the ground.

"The Army remains committed to ACS (Aerial Common Sensor) to meet current and emerging reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition requirements," said Col. John Burke, deputy director, Army Aviation, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans at the Pentagon.

The ACS is intended to detect troop movements, intercept enemy communications and radar transmissions, and communicate with other aircraft.

After terminating an $879 million contract with Lockheed Martin for the development of the system in early 2006, the Army is returning to the drawing board to focus on system requirements.

"The prudent course of action at this time was to terminate the contract and bring the various players - industry, the acquisition- and user-communities, the Navy and Air Force - back to the drawing board to make sure we all have a firm understanding of what the requirements are and the various challenges we need to overcome to make this program succeed," said Claude M. Bolton, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition Logistics and Technology in 2006. "We are not terminating the program."

Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Richard A. Cody approved the development of an ACS blocked requirements and acquisition strategy March 16. By blocking the acquisition, the ACS capability can achieve the full system's performance by taking advantage of mature payloads early and then integrating those in development when prudent, he said.

"We didn't want to wait 10 years or more for the 'big bang' of trying to wait for everything at once," Cody said.

An Armywide team is now assessing requirements, acquisition and funding, and will report findings in all areas in a decision briefing next quarter.

In the next 60 days, the Army will:
Aca,!Ac Refine the specific ACS requirements in a blocked strategy and develop an acquisition strategy to meet these requirements against the desired capability delivery timeline;
Aca,!Ac Establish an interoperability plan with the Navy's similar capability for their maritime applications;
Aca,!Ac Develop the Manned-Unmanned Teaming concept to operations;
Aca,!Ac Conduct a Mini-Joint Functional Needs Analysis; and,
Aca,!Ac Use all the expertise in our Intelligence, Aviation, and Communications domains to bear against the ACS requirements.

ACS is a responsive worldwide, self-deployable, airborne Reconnaissance, Surveillance, Targeting and Acquisition/Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance system capable of providing real-time sensor-to-shooter information.

The ACS initiative will merge and improve the capabilities of the Army's Guardrail Common Sensor and Airborne Reconnaissance Low systems into a single multifunction platform, and eventually replace those legacy airborne ISR systems.