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The Air Force Airborne Single-channel Ground and Airborne Radio System (SINCGARS) compatible radio (AN/ARC-222) operates SC FM and FH in the 30.000 to 87.975 MHz range and SC amplitude modulation (AM) in the 108.000 to 151.975 MHz frequency range (108.000 to 115.975 receive only). It interfaces with the KY-58 to achieve a COMSEC capability. The airborne radio interfaces with the AN/PSC-2-digital communications terminal (DCT-2) and the improved data modem (IDM) to pass data. Air Force ground units, primarily tactical air control parties (TACPs) and combat control teams (CCTs), employ the Army SINCGARS AN/VRC-89A/90A/91A (RT-1523 (ICOM) radio). The modular control equipment (MCE) facilities located at the control reporting centers (CRCs), control reporting element (CRE), and forward air control party (FACP) utilize the RT-1439 (non-ICOM) radios and interface with external COMSEC devices (KY-58).

The AN/ARC-222 program began at ESC during FY92 with the rototype system originallydesignated the ARC-XXX VHF AM/FM airborne tactical radio. Officials in the DOD selected this new VHF SINCGARS radio to satisfy the theater Joint Forces Commander's (JFC) requirement for interoperable jam-resistant tactical voice communications. Designs called for the new SINCGARS radio to provide centralized control of air and land situations during combined arms operations. Engineers built the AN/ARC-222 radio to afford critical VHF two-way communications for voice and data over single channels and frequency-hopping modes among Air Force, Army, Special Operations Forces (SOF), and Marine units.

The AN/ARC-222 program officially began in October 1991, when officials at Headquarters Tactical Air Command (TAC) (today Air Combat Command--ACC), Langley AFB, Virginia, submitted a System Operational Requirement Document (SORD) for an Air Force VHF Antijam Communications system. Brigadier General Richard B. Myers, TAC Deputy Chief of Staff (DCS), Requirements (HQ TAC DCS/DR), sent the official letter (TAF308-80-I/II/IIIA, Revision 1, SORD) on 11 October 1991 to Washington and to various Air Force agencies and units concerned with the program. He sent one copy to the Center's Directorate of Plans and Programs (WR-ALC/XPX).(35)

After a short discussion about special needs, Air Force officials issued Program Management Directive (PMD) 2268(1)/27423F/2614 on 9 December 1991 to govern the establishment of the program.(36) This was followed on 23 January 1992 with the issuance of Program Action Directive (PAD) 91-XRS-268(01) and a subsequent directive PMD, number 2268(2)/27423F/3429 dated 23 March 1992.

Finally, on 10 July 1992, ESC officials awarded the contract to Raytheon Inc., Waco, Texas. The contract called for the program to be structured in two phases--a twenty-seven month qualification program followed by four production options.

As a result of the FY92 contract, plans called for the AN/ARC-222 to become a modification of the highly successful CA-663CH SWISS radio. By early 1993, the contractor had already produced over 200 of these radios. Thus, the ARC-222 design relied on the legacy of the production CA-663CH radio, which was successfully tested for SINCGARS interoperability and AN/ARC-186 form/fit. These tests also demonstrated the AN/ARC-222's effectiveness in a ground environment. As a result of these tests, the basic CA-663CH design served as the brassboard for the new AN/ARC-222 prototype.

Of equal concern to engineers was the ability of the prototype to fit in the allotted space. Several modifications, already proven as a part of the contractor's Independent Research and Development (IR&D) effort, allowed the prototype to fit the space designated by the specifications. The card cage chassis accommodated a single, low-cost motherboard which replaced flexible cables. The design then afforded Radio Frequency (RF) signals to be routed within the motherboard which provided excellent signal isolation. Discrete, thick (0.1") plug-in circuit boards contributed margin to the environmental requirements and were secured in place with wedgelock devices to ensure good thermal connectivity and vibration resistance.

Another important consideration was the Configuration Item/Computer Software Configuration Items (CI/CSCIs) required for the AN/ARC-222. These included the Remote Control Set (RCS) and the Receiver/Transmitter (R/T), each of which were created as the result of easily produced modifications. The CSCIs were the Waveform Processor and the Radio Control Processor. Designs called for this RCS C-XXXXX/ARC-222(V) to be installed in an A-10 aircraft cockpit control panel location where Control Radio Set C-10604(V)/ARC-186(V), Control Radio Set C-10605(V)/ARC-186(V), or Control Radio Set C-10606(V)/ARC-186(V), had already been installed.

Ultimately, the RCS provided all the necessary controls and displays required for successful operation of the AFABS and effective in-flight mission interoperability with SINCGARS Radio Set RT-1523(C)/U on the ground. In addition to providing the pilot with the capability of setting and/or adjusting all operating modes of the remotely mounted R/T, the RCS afforded on-line Built-In-Test (BIT) status indication and operator initiated off-line BIT status indication for both the RCS and remote R/T. The layout of the controls and displays, along with their legends, were set on the illuminated panel and mounted on the RCS front panel.

All of this came about as a result of changes to existing off-the-shelf (OTS) RCS R/Ts. For example, modifications to the R/T consisted of the substitution of a low-risk third-generation synthesizer to reduce cost and thermal loading based on contractor designs along with minor modification to the software, Transmitter, and Receiver to enhance production capabilities. The new synthesizer was a revision of the design used in the RT-1650 Multiband Radio and represented a third generation interactive design.

In the end, the contractor estimated that a total of 36,800 lines of software code would be required for the AN/ARC-222 program. Of this total, 15,000 lines of new code would be written to implement BIT and MIL-STD-1553 interfaces, in the CPUs. Both of these requirements have been implemented on several existing products. The contractor anticipated re-using this existing code to the greatest extent possible to reduce cost and schedule risk. To this end, approximately 75% of the existing CA-663A software (21,800 lines) was used unchanged. The remaining 25% of the existing software required some revision. This meant the cost and schedule risk usually associated with writing new software code was minimized.

The Raytheon design sought to meet all reliability requirements which included: a 500-hour minimum test for Mean-Time-Between-Failures (MTBF); use of reliable industrial grade components; and diligent attention to reliability during the qualification phase of the AN/ARC-222 program. Experts believed that this would result in a final product which could withstand the rigors of a Program Reliability Assessment Test (PRAT), Environmental Stress Screening, and a reliability development growth test (RDGT) designed to concentrate on the Test, Analyze, and Fix aspects of the system. In addition, the contractor sought to concentrate on the program requirements by using mathematical models and predictions which had, by the Summer of 1992, projected a MTBF of 1657 hours compared to the specification requirement of 1500 hours. Lastly, company officials had determined to set up a Failure Review Board headed by the Program Manager as an integral part of the contractor's Failure Reporting Analysis and Corrective Action System (FRACAS) program. Plans also called for a monthly status report on each contractual stage also to be reported to the quarterly Management Review Board.

Equally significant to the success of the project was the management approach which featured an integrated engineering team, minimal use of outside resources, highly automated production facilities and techniques, as well as an eleven percent reserve time built into the development and production schedule. Raytheon established a strong Integrated Engineering Product Development Team (IEPDT) to lead the AFABS program. Manufacturing considerations received prominent consideration since a senior manufacturing engineer was assigned to lead the engineering and manufacturing team. The team consisted of experienced personnel from the required engineering disciplines including; component, hardware and software design, reliability, environmental, EMI/EMC, maintainability/human factors/safety, and manufacturing.

Plans also called for test engineering personnel, because of their overall importance to the program, to report directly to the Program Manager. The contractor had experienced great success on previous programs when these disciplines were integrated under one Program Manager. They discovered that such a management design was critical to the successful completion of modern state-of-the-art production projects. Since the system design was based on the CA-663A and other derivative products, most of the design effort was complete for the AN/ARC-222 even as the contract was signed. Rather than a typical developmental program, instead this project consisted of productivity improvements, straightforward design enhancements, and transition to production. This approach provided a totally integrated quality management team for insuring that all program technical, cost and schedule requirements were satisfied.

Between 1993 and 1997, the development and testing phases of the program moved forward, while planning for fielding the system began. Center personnel faced many challenges over these four years, but the excellent ground work laid by both the Air Force and contractor work force made the entire process work more smoothly. Of note was the fact that in the midst of the program, Hughes Aerospace, Inc., Long Beach, California, became the primary contractor of the program since it bought the avionics assets of the earlier contractors.

In FY97, ESC/TG-1officials formally procured the AN/ARC-222 based on earlier Air Force directives. Air Force leadership directed that ESC personnel provide SINCGARS radios for specific Air Force air assets in order to allow these aircraft to communicate with other SINCGARS radios used by other services, primarily the U.S. Army Ground SINCGARS radio units. As such, ESC and USAF management meant for the AN/ARC-222 to replace the AN/ARC-186 radio on these same selected Air Force weapon system platforms.

During FY96 and FY97, the Hughes work force collected AN/ARC-222 radios and control parts and delivered them, as components for kits, to WR-ALC "Kit Unit" personnel in LY. In turn, members of the LY Communications Team (LYRC) compiled a fielding document which they sent to ESC. It provided the specific procedures for ordering the AN/ARC-222 LRUs from the Center "Kit Unit" in order to build aircraft-specific installation kits.

The project has been a team effort. Personnel in LYRC worked closely with the SPDs to issue equipment for installation and with contractor workers dealing with system integration issues. WR-ALC/LYRC employees have also worked with personnel from the Center's Special Operations Forces (SOF) Management Directorate's (also SOF SPO) H-53A IPT, who worked with the integration contractor to build modification kits for the MH-53J and TH-53A helicopter aircraft. This installation began in late 1997. At the end of the fiscal year, officials projected that the project should be completed early in 1998. Last but not least, LYRC technicians have provided radios to contractors for integration into the Airborne Command and Control Center (ABCCC), HH-60G helicopter and MC-130H aircraft platforms. At the end of FY97, Center management expected the installation of these AN/ARC-222s to begin in the Spring of 1998.

After six years of effort, officials expected the AN/ARC-222 development and integration program to come to an end in fiscal year 2000 (FY00). At that point, the maintenance and sustainment phase of the weapon system life cycle will begin.

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Maintained by Robert Sherman
Originally created by John Pike
Updated Saturday, April 22, 2000 9:42:39 AM