House lawmakers call for programmatic details, AI prototyping for ABMS

By Sara Sirota / June 3, 2019 at 4:13 PM

House authorizers are calling on the Air Force to provide programmatic details and consider artificial intelligence prototyping for its Advanced Battle Management System.

"The budget request provided limited programmatic details on ABMS. The committee is concerned with the lack of discernible benchmarks to assess and measure progress," the House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee’s draft mark of the fiscal year 2020 defense authorization bill states.

By the time the ABMS analysis of alternatives concludes, scheduled for this year, "the committee expects the Air Force to complete the documentation requested by this section and submit it to the congressional defense committees not later than 180 days after completion of the AOA," the mark continues.

House authorizers further note plans to modernize the Air Force with AI and machine learning, calling for the service to "consider prototyping and demonstrating the utility of artificial intelligence and automated sensor fusion as part of the ABMS concept."

Last month, Michael Sullivan, director of defense weapon system acquisitions at the Government Accountability Office, warned about ABMS in his written testimony for a hearing before the subcommittee.

He said the program "is in the early stages of planning. The capabilities and the strategy to deliver those capabilities are still to be determined."

House appropriators similarly stated ABMS lacks a "clear execution plan" and recommended cutting $10 million from the program in their draft of the fiscal year 2020 defense spending bill.

The Senate Armed Services Committee, meanwhile, in its mark of FY-20 legislation called for an additional $49 million for ABMS.