The Air Force is in a "much better" place with Congress surrounding the Advanced Battle Management System and other programs that are more capability-focused, according to the service's deputy chief of staff for strategy, integration and requirements.
Lt. Gen. Clinton Hinote, who spoke at the National Defense Industrial Association's JADC2 symposium today, also said he's "fairly optimistic" the service will secure the funding it needs for its piece of the broader Joint All-Domain Command and Control initiative in the years ahead.
Previously, lawmakers met ABMS with some level of skepticism, frustrated by the lack of programmatic details and the absence of a clear roadmap. Lawmakers nearly halved funding for the high-speed network in the Fiscal Year 2021 Omnibus Appropriations Act, cutting the $302 million the Air Force requested down to $159 million.
This time around, the Air Force requested $204 million for the program's FY-22 budget, half the $449 million officials previously projected they'd need.
Hinote acknowledged "it was difficult" initially to have conversations with lawmakers about the program, given its nature. And still now, when looking down the line five or six years, he noted it's "challenging" to try to define what ABMS will look like.
"You're supposed to be programming out all the way to the end of [FY-27]. When I think about that, and it's [FY-21] now, at least six years into the future, you're supposed to know exactly what you're going to get out of ABMS by then, and as the Air Force's requirements officer . . . I don’t know," he said.
In the meantime, Hinote said the service is building requirements that he characterized as "flexible," rather than "rigid" -- something he said is "helping us in the conversation" with Congress.