Navy Signs $5.74 Million Software Contract With USC-Led Team

July 14, 2003

The Office of Naval Research will spend $5.74 million to expand the use of software for coordinating air operations and maintenance, developed by the University of Southern California and Vanderbilt University, to the Marine Corps' entire lineup of tactical aircraft, USC announced July 21, 2003.

"The software helps the military coordinate the many activities involved in preparing for combat, and combat itself, in ways that reduce risk, increase likelihood of mission success, and best support commander's intent," said Robert Neches of the University of Southern California School of Engineering's Information Sciences Institute, prime contractor on the project.

ISI collaborated with Vanderbilt's Institute for Software Integrated Systems (ISIS) and others to create the system, which performs in minutes complex scheduling functions that used to require many hours of work by highly trained officers. It has been evaluated in operational use by squadrons of Harrier jets, both land- and carrier-based, since August 2002, including units participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The new three-year contract, which went into effect July 7, 2003, will create versions of the system tailored to all aircraft types used by the Marine Corpsí 90 tactical air squadrons, and will elevate its use up the command chain by adding tools for commanders of Air Combat Elements within Marine Expeditionary Brigades.

The contract includes an agreement to supply versions of the system to Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company for use in demonstrations of the company's "Autonomic Logistics Information System" (ALIS) being developed to support the new Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft.

More than $3.3 million of the contract funding will go to USC/ ISI, with the rest distributed among Vanderbilt/ISIS and other contractors, who include IDEA Services, LLC of Oakland, MD and Lloyd Lamont Design, Inc. (LLD), of Herndon, VA.

The "Comprehensive Analytic Real-Time Execution for Joint Operations" effort funded under this contract integrates "Autonomous Negotiating Teamware" (ANT) and intelligent information management technology previously developed for the Harrier attack squadrons. ANT uses a metaphor of human negotiation that rapidly explores tradeoffs and reformulates requirements to balance the considerations of many different stakeholders.

Repeated tests of the ANT system by Marine Aircraft Group 13, both at its headquarters in Yuma, AZ, and deployed aboard carriers, led to highly positive evaluations by senior officers.

"This follow-on contract is a great vote of confidence in our system," said Neches, who is a division director at ISI and also an associate professor in the USC School of Engineering department of computer science. "We believe it will have civilian applications as well."

"The USC School of Engineering developed tools for national defense during the Cold War, and is meeting current security challenges," said USC Dean of Engineering C.L. Max Nikias.