possible to field the upgrades rapidly. “We picked up the
contract in December 2012, and within two or three weeks
we were pounding out code. We’ve gotten a lot of coding
done, and the program is going very well. It’s a fast-paced
agile development,” Donovan says.
The process will include incremental upgrades, the first of
which will not be delivered to warfighters. “Right now, we’re
planning to have three releases, but the first release we’re
not planning on fielding. This release we’re using more as a
risk reduction build,” Capt. Gross reports. That first release
started government acceptance testing in early June. He adds
that the second release—which will be fielded—should wrap
up testing in the third fiscal quarter of 2014.
The process also includes warfighter assessments approxi-
mately every month, which provide feedback for improving
the software before it goes to the field. Additionally, the
effort relies on communities of interest to help tailor the
specifications. “Within the Defense Department, there’s
been a large focus on communities of interest, so a lot of
groups are gathering to define standards that capture data
for different domains. The one we’re most focused on is
the operations domain,” Donovan explains. “What we’re
doing with ATOMS is utilizing specifications that have been
developed by these communities of interest, getting those
implemented, which really allows for greater data sharing
between ATOMS and other systems within the theater to
a much greater extent than what was previously achieved
The TBMCS modernization effort is part of a larger pro-
gram to modernize the entire air operations center, which
has been designated a weapon system. The program objec-
tives include improving the speed of command by automat-
ing information exchange; accelerating the integration of
warfighter capabilities; and significantly reducing lifecycle
costs. Tasking under the entire contract includes design,
integration, test and delivery of a network-centric infra-
structure and mission applications with fielding and sustain-
ment at eight air operation center sites. Northrop Grumman
Information Systems, McLean, Virginia, was awarded a
potential $504 million contract in March 2012 for the overall
In February, Northrop Grumman announced the comple-
tion of the preliminary design review, which allowed the
program to enter the detailed design phase. The review was
conducted at the company’s warfighter test and integration
laboratory in Newport News, Virginia. Additionally, Northrop
Grumman delivered a prototype system built upon a service-
oriented open architecture to highlight the future air opera-
tions center environment and demonstrate the concept of
rapid and affordable development and integration.
Because ATOMS is on the cutting edge of agile acquisi-
tion, Capt. Gross says, other programs in the Air Force and
across the Defense Department may benefit from the lessons
learned. “I think we’re doing things smarter,” he states.
contact: George I. Seffers, firstname.lastname@example.org
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