Military Technology 02/2021

to perform occurred at the end of the Cold War, in late 1990, precipitated by the seismic shift in European geopolitics. It is the combining of these three goals into a single project executed simultaneously which brings to ACCS its fiendish complexity – not to mention its surfeit of acronyms. The Story so Far NATO air defence and acronyms have always been synonymous with one another. STRIDA, POACCS, SADA, SEKTOR and MASE were just five of the disparate IADS C2 systems used by the air forces of France, Portugal, Spain, the Czech Republic and Denmark respectively. The C2 hardware and software equipping all these, and several other European NATO IADS, have been, or are being, replaced by the scalable ACCS ensemble. The ensemble forms the basis of six different configurations which the programme is rolling out across most of NATO’s European membership. These five configurations provide NATO with CAOCs, DCAOCs, ARS [Aircraft Control Centre, Recognised Air Picture Production Centre and Sensor Fusion Post], deployable ARS (DARS), combined CAOC and ARS (CARS) and ACCS Software Base Elements (ASBE). The fixed and deployable CAOCs form the war planning and tasking element of ACCS. They allow NATO to plan and manage an air cam- paign from European territory and draft the all-important Air Tasking Order (ATO), the ‘sheet music’ denoting air operations to be performed over a 24-hour period. The CAOC then monitors execution of the ATO. NATO has two fixed CAOCs, one in western Germany at the Uedem airbase, the other located at Torrejón, outside Madrid. The DACCC (Deployable Air Command and Control Centre) is based at Poggio Renatico airbase in northern Italy. The CAOCs and DACCC are directly subordinate to COM AIRCOM [Commander Allied Air Command], head- quartered at Ramstein airbase in south-west Germany. AIRCOM is re- sponsible for operational command of NATO air operations and uses the Air C2 Information System to this end. The DCAOC and DARS perform similar functions for NATO out-of-area operations. NATO’s Air Command and Control System (ACCS) is the alliance’s biggest single procurement and perhaps its least well known. “The NATO Air Command and Control System is intended to combine and automate at the tactical level the planning and tasking and execu- tion of all air operations,” notes a NATO document outlining the ACCS’ scope. Dubbed “the most comprehensive and complex of NATO’s pro- grammes” once completed, the ACCS architecture will help safeguard ten million square kilometres of NATO’s European airspace. It will connect 20 different installations responsible for controlling NATO combat aircraft, and 40 different types of ground-based air surveillance radar will be net- worked into the architecture, the NATO document continues. Connectivity between airbases; surface-to-air missile (SAM) installations; control and reporting centres; fighters; radars; and supporting infrastructure, will be assured not only within a nation’s Integrated Air Defence System (IADS), but between NATO European nations equipped with ACCS. This will be achieved through 160 datalinks and interfaces and the 14 million lines of code needed by the ACCS software. For all intents and purposes, ACCS will be the C2 backbone underpinning the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defense System (NATINAMDS), protecting the skies of the alliance’s European membership. Taken individually, its goals sound relatively simple: ACCS is to re- place a raft of C2 systems managing an array of IADS throughout most of NATO’s European members with a single, scalable hardware and soft- ware C2 architecture. This same architecture will provide the C2 element for fixed Combined Air Operations Centres (CAOCs) and their deployable CAOC counterparts (DCAOCs), which NATO uses to manage air cam- paigns. Finally, ACCS will federate the Recognised Air Pictures (RAP) produced by individual IADS members into a so-called ‘Super RAP,’ de- picting NATO’s European airspace and air approaches in their entirety. The requirement for ACCS was originally defined by NATO as long ago as 1980. The rationale to consolidate the disparate tasks the ACCS was Thomas Withington ACCS Makes Tracks Is NATO’s Largest Procurement Programme Meeting Expectations? 48 · MT 2/2021 NATO’s ACCS will replace a host of disparate hardware and software with a scalable architecture, providing C2 functions for air defence and air operations. (Photo: NATO)