The Blog

Improving mission planning via the Hanscom MilCloud

Relevant links are at the bottom of this post.

11/18/2015 – HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. — A mission planning team here is using the Hanscom MilCloud as a virtual environment in order to improve their acquisition process, including reducing costs, for an upcoming contract award.

The System Engineering Integration Contract II, or SEIC II, will have four main goals: minimize costs for developing, implementing and operating mission planning systems across the Defense Department; increase the speed of fielding MPS improvements to improve operational capabilities and, thereby, readiness; increase cybersecurity and cyber resiliency of fielded MP systems; and improve the quality of MP products including software usability, performance, reliability, reuse and more.

“Mission planning is broad-based and deals with all different types of aircraft — rotary and fixed-wing, Air Force and Navy and more,” said Capt. Devon Messecar, SEIC II program manager. “Various components are developed under the mission planning contract, and then the systems engineering integration piece takes all of that and builds it together to make it function as a total environment for the warfighter to use and rely on.”

The team was looking for a way to increase competition by creating an environment that would lead to the best value and best way forward.

“Through competition, we can generate new ideas and processes,” said Messecar. “This way we can make sure the Air Force and the DOD don’t remain stagnant.”

An original idea had been to create a physical system integration lab; then the suggestion of doing it virtually came up. Program officials realized using a virtual SIL would save costs and time and there would be no issues such as dealing with weather and scheduling. They looked to the Hanscom MilCloud as their platform.

The Hanscom MilCloud provides a cloud environment where potential offerors can look at the framework of mission planning products to view what they may need to maintain or integrate. From an announcement on FBO, what is being called the Mission Planning Knowledge SIL gives “potential offerors a means to improve their knowledge of MP products, integration processes, and production efforts.”

Program officials said the SIL provides a chance to educate bidders and bring everyone up to speed. They added that it also affords opportunities for non-traditional contractors to participate, whether on their own or by joining up with a more traditional industry partner.

“It allows the contractors to better know and understand our Statement of Work and what our requirements are,” said Messecar.

Officials say there is no need to learn the cloud; users just need to complete a simple registration process that allows them to go in and learn about mission planning, which has been prearranged for them. It includes a series of learning activities from basic to more complex.

“They can go see an example of what a Joint Mission Planning System, or JMPS, Integrated Build Environment might look like,” said Dave Parker, deputy program manager. “And they can use it as a blackboard; if they make a mistake, it can be erased.”

He also spoke about the SIL being a controlled environment where government software cannot be downloaded, but contractors are able to use their own software and licenses or what’s available on the lending library within the cloud.

Messecar said it was thanks to the entire team that the system is now fully up and running, ready to accommodate potential offerors. One of the team’s achievements was a functioning test SIL just 10 days following the contract award for the MilCloud environment.

Messecar added that she believes the team’s success was due to its small size, diversity and breadth of knowledge in mission planning. She said the collaboration between Jackpine contractors, MITRE personnel, government personnel and program management support led to the best Hanscom MilCloud solution.

“Cloud is the wave of the future, but we’ve always used it for development,” she said. “Now we’re using it for acquisition, and it’s about trying to find the best person or people out there to do the job.”

The MP Knowledge SIL will be available until Hanscom receives the proposals for SEIC II.