In a groundbreaking collaboration, the 805th Combat Training Squadron’s Shadow Operations Center-Nellis (ShOC-N), also known as the US Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System Battle Lab, joined forces with the US Army’s Mission Command Battle Lab and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to advance the field of joint airspace management and joint fires capability at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. This partnership has led to a significant development in the Air Space Total Awareness for Rapid Tactical Execution (ASTARTE) system, a cutting-edge warfighting innovation project.

ShOC-N: Forging the Future of Command and Control

As the Air Force’s premier command and control battle lab, ShOC-N plays a pivotal role in the development, advancement, and maturation of key technologies and capabilities. Its primary objective is to streamline the kill chain for joint and coalition warfighters, making it a driving force behind ASTARTE’s development.

ShOC-N Building
(Image source: US Air Force)

ASTARTE, primarily a DARPA program with sponsorship from both the Army and Air Force, aims to revolutionize airspace operations and de-confliction in congested battlefields. At its core, ASTARTE automates the provision of real-time familiar operational pictures within and above an Army Division, reducing the time required for executing time-sensitive joint fires. Raytheon Corporation’s artificial intelligence-enabled software powers ASTARTE, facilitating airspace synchronization and tactical decision-making. Its modular design allows for seamless integration into existing Army and Air Force command and control systems.

Lieutenant Colonel John Ohlund, commander of the 805th CTS, highlights the significance of the integration efforts:

“The ASTARTE program underscores the immense potential of integration at ShOC-N. The collaboration between software developers from Raytheon, DARPA, and the C2 operators showcased the power of automation when motivated partners come together.”

Real-World Testing and Crucial Assessment

In a simulated division-level Joint Air Ground Integration Center (JAGIC), Army and Air Force personnel tested the ASTARTE software within an air-ground conflict scenario. This evaluation incorporated both live data from the Air Force’s Red Flag exercise and simulated data generated by the ShOC-N. Air Force air battle managers assumed the role of an Air Force tactical C2 node, acting as a Control and Reporting Center to enhance real-time battle management decision-making.

During the joint warfighter assessment, ASTARTE underwent rigorous testing in various combat scenarios and JAGIC battle drills. Its performance was evaluated on its ability to make sense of multiple data streams, thereby creating a unified common operational picture and providing tactical recommendations to enhance joint fires. This event also served as a critical opportunity to assess ASTARTE as a decision aid, potentially replacing legacy C2 systems. Recent enhancements to the ASTARTE system, including improvements to the user interface and role-player training, focused on enhancing the transparency of the system’s processes for generating potential courses of action.

A Leap Forward

Dr. Mary Schurgot, ASTARTE program manager in DARPA’s Strategic Technology Office, expressed her observations:

“In comparison to previous test events, we observed significantly reduced reliance on legacy C2 systems while using the ASTARTE software, and the role players reported a greater understanding of how the ASTARTE system executes tasks.”

The 805th CTS, along with other program stakeholders, achieved a successful assessment of the ASTARTE software. They identified operational considerations and areas for future improvement. Furthermore, they laid out a strategy for transitioning the DARPA program to the Army and Air Force, ensuring that this cutting-edge capability can benefit soldiers and airmen in the field.

Shaping the Future of Multi-Domain Command and Control

Colonel Michael Lake, deputy commander of the 505th Command and Control Wing at Hurlburt Field, Florida, underscored the importance of this endeavor, stating, “For the Air Force, this was all about contributing to the continued evolution of future warfighter capabilities – and it’s really great to see the invaluable role the 805th CTS plays in facilitating the ABMS Battle Lab work with joint partners to bring DOD [Department of Defense] innovation efforts to Soldiers and Airmen in the field, furthering our mission to shape multi-domain command and control moving forward.”

US Air Force’s tactical air control party during a mobile command and control platform demonstration, 2022. (Image source: DVIDS)


The recent joint experiment involving the ASTARTE system marks a significant leap forward in the development of advanced battle management capabilities for the US Air Force and Army. This collaborative effort demonstrates the potential for innovation and integration, ultimately enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of airspace operations in complex, high-stakes military engagements.

As the ASTARTE program moves towards integration within military operations, it promises to be a valuable asset for the soldiers and airmen on the front lines, furthering the mission of shaping multi-domain command and control for the future. With a seamless blend of cutting-edge technology and collaborative spirit, the ASTARTE experiment stands as a testament to the military’s commitment to staying at the forefront of modern warfare.