February 2021 | Content by Christian Borchardt, NAPMA Project Manager, Mission and Flight Sims

MTC2 Receives Security Accreditation

Often times we overlook how the small parts of a project can make or break that project’s success. Such is the case of the new Mission Training Center (MTC) that NAPMA delivered to the NAEW&C Force in December 2020 Ready for Training and that recently received its security accreditation. Without this important piece of the Final Lifetime Extension Programme (FLEP) puzzle in place, the entire project – specifically the schedule – could be put in jeopardy.

© 2021 - NATO

For the first time in the history of the NAEW&C Programme, a major modernisation programme will take place almost entirely on European soil during the execution of FLEP. A large part of the FLEP effort involves a refresh of the NE-3A’s mission computing hardware and software. After The Boeing Company completes most of the software development at its lab in Oklahoma City, it will send the new software to Geilenkirchen AB where that software must be integrated with the new mission system hardware. This is where the new MTC comes into play.

In order to make room for a new FLEP System Integration Lab (SIL), where the integration of the new FLEP software and hardware will happen, NAPMA and the NAEW&C Force agreed to convert the current Mission Simulator #2 (MS2) into a FLEP SIL. However, MS2 plays an important role in the training of NE-3A mission crew members and, in order to relieve the pain of losing this capability, NAPMA contracted the Plexsys Interface Products, INC. to deliver a second MTC – essentially a duplication of the Force’s first MTC – in order to fill this training void. That sounds pretty straight-forward, right? Not quite.

As those of you who fly in the back of an NE-3A know, the MTC provides much more than just a place where crew members can practice “smashing buttons.” The two MTCs must also be connected to the NATO network so that it can give crew members the ability to conduct high-fidelity simulated training in a virtual environment called Distributed Mission Training (DMT). In a world where large-scale live flying training has become scarce, DMT provides a viable, and more cost-effective, alternative. In order to connect to the NATO network, a system must undergo security accreditation. Connecting MTC2 to the NATO Network proved to be the most challenging part of the project.

Why was this so difficult? For the first time ever, NAPMA, under the watchful eye of SHAPE/J2X as the Security Accreditation Authority (SAA), delivered a capability to the Force that had already received its security accreditation. Throughout this challenging process, NAPMA gained useful lessons learned that will come in handy when the Agency will put the new FLEP-configured NE-3A through a similar process before delivering the modified aircraft to the Force.

With the successful delivery of the security-accredited MTC2, installation of the FLEP SIL can proceed as planned and a critically important, if somewhat small, step on the path toward the completion of the next major NE-3A modification has been achieved. Just don’t smash those buttons too hard, crew dogs.

All rights are reserved to NAPMA - NATO AEW&C Programme Management Agency | NAPMA Website - Terms Of Use