AFRL works to advance C2 capabilities for NYANG

Rome, NY (AFRL) – Leaders from the Air Force Research Laboratory, or AFRL, Information Directorate in Rome, New York, and the 174th Attack Wing, or ATKW, of the New York Air National Guard, or NYANG, at Hancock Field in Syracuse, New York, are working to leverage opportunities that advance Air Force command and control and intel gathering capabilities.

On Oct. 15, 2023, leadership from the AFRL Information Directorate visited the 174th ATKW in Syracuse to bolster relations amongst AFRL researchers and experienced Air Force operators.

“The mission of the 174th ATKW is a perfect proving ground for some of the AFRL C2 and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance technologies for joint global air, space and cyberspace operations,” said Col. Bai Zhu, chief of the Intelligence Systems Division at the AFRL Information Directorate. “The 174th has a number of diverse and unique missions, including the MQ-9 combat operations and training missions, and the 152d Air Operations Group, or AOG, which all give our research team valuable insights to operational challenges.”

Zhu expressed that through harnessing the power of the Department of the Air Force, or DAF, CloudWorks cloud services, AFRL seeks to advance DAF intelligence and warfighter missions everywhere.

leadership collaboration

Maj. Christopher Peck, DAF CloudWorks Azure program manager, and Dr. Alex Aved, core technical competency lead for AFRL Intelligence Systems and Col. Bai Zhu, chief of the Intelligence Systems Division at the AFRL Information Directorate visit with the New York Air National Guard 174th Attack Wing to expand collaboration opportunities.

The collaboration effort comes on the heels of a recent MQ-9 operator exercise that brought the 51 MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft, or RPA, crews from 36 squadrons across all three components of the U.S. Air Force to Syracuse Sept. 21-22 to hone their skills and share challenges.

Using information from the recent exercise, Zhu, Maj. Christopher Peck, DAF CloudWorks Azure program manager, and Dr. Alex Aved, core technical competency lead for AFRL Intelligence Systems, were able to assess current operational needs with MQ-9 operators from the 138th Attack Squadron. The team also worked with the flight operators of the MQ-9 aircraft and command and control operators from the 152d AOG, which provide planning, direction and control of assigned Air Forces in support of Ramstein Air Force Base, Germany, for the U.S. Air Forces Europe.

“Collaborations of this manner allow our team to work directly with AFRL researchers to apply the research concepts to scenarios that our warfighters are facing in the field,” said Col. John R. O’Connor, commander of the 174th ATKW. “The concepts we test are solutions that will be applied and refined as we develop the technologies; they will be of significant value and benefit to enhancing our warfighting capabilities.”

The group discussed specific operational challenges that operators face in real-world scenarios and how the AFRL research teams can apply new solutions to enhance capabilities and advance U.S. Air Force capabilities to provide operational efficiencies.

The collaboration will focus on the utilization of DAF CloudWorks for testing and evaluation, a standardized infrastructure residing in the government cloud platform to support rapid automated software development, security testing and delivery to operational users in the Air Force and Space Force.

The U.S. Air Force intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, or ISR, digital infrastructure consists of multiple technology layers that provide the foundation for communications, information and operations, and aligns the capability portfolios with operational imperatives to support, provide and deliver.

This will also include the development and testing of cross-domain solutions and next-generation intelligence analysis technology.

AFRL will work with the NYANG on the integration of 152nd AOG command and control and ISR operators into overall technology development to support rapid prototyping for warfighters. Additionally, it will drive technology requirements sought out by operators of the 174th ATKW and the broader U.S. Air Force MQ-9 operator community.

About AFRL

The Air Force Research Laboratory, or AFRL, is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 12,500 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development. For more information, visit