Defense

August 31, 2013

Army advances standardized tactical computer

army-computer1
 

In combat and tactical vehicles, soldiers can access communications systems that display a complete picture of the battlefield. However, these high-tech situational awareness features are viewed through different computer systems, over separate monitors and with little room to spare.

Now the Army is looking to replace that “swivel chair” approach to situational awareness by introducing a standardized family of tactical computers that are scalable and tailorable to the mission and vehicle. With a modular “build-your-own-system” computer, users will be able to access and operate several different software applications over a single piece of computer hardware.

Known as the Mounted Family of Computer Systems, or MFoCS, the new capability will bring interoperability to tactical computers and improve the Soldier experience by allowing them to better plan, monitor and execute missions.

“By offering basic through advanced computing and display capabilities, we can satisfy the needs of several mission command applications while eliminating the burden of operating different computers in the same vehicle,” said Dominic Satili, deputy product manager for Blue Force Tracking, assigned to Project Manager Joint Battle Command-Platform, or PM JBC-P. “The soldier only has to learn how to operate one computer.”

In June, PM JBC-P, assigned to the Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical, awarded a three-year, indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract for production and development of MFoCS to Florida-based DRS Tactical Systems Inc.

army-computer2

The building block approach introduces three MFoCS models: the basic, intermediate and advanced. The basic configuration is a tablet, while the intermediate model adds a processing unit with a 12, 15 or 17 inch display. The advanced model includes not only the tablet but also two intermediate units for a total of three work stations, making the three MFoCS models interchangeable and easily customized to fit any mission. The tablets are ruggedized and operate on a 25-foot cable so Soldiers inside a vehicle can pass the display around or even detach it and take it outside.

“The vision here is to have a single tactical computer for Army vehicles that will run multiple applications,” Satili said. “This standardizes the type of computer and at the same time creates a family of different sizes that adjusts to the mission.”

Designed to run JBC-P, the Army’s primary situational awareness capability, the system will also support other command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance applications and provide mounted computing solutions for the Marine Corps.

By allowing multiple software programs to utilize a single hardware solution inside the vehicle – rather than requiring individual hardware – it also reduces size, weight and power demands. MFoCS not only brings interoperability to tactical computers, it also reduces the cost of the basic configuration computer by as much as 36 percent and boosts its performance by more than 350 percent.

Development of M-FoCS dates back to a 2011 Army Directed Requirement for a common computing hardware solution with the goal of converging separate computing environments onto a single architecture.

MFoCS fits in the same hardware footprint and uses the same installation kit as the existing Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below/Blue Force Tracking and Joint Capabilities Release systems. These technologies are the situational awareness predecessors to JBC-P and have been integrated on more than 120,000 platforms, reside in each tactical operations center and are fielded to every brigade combat team in the Army.

army-computer3

Moving forward, MFoCS will support PM JBC-P’s Mounted Computing Environment, or MCE, one of six computing environments that are part of the Army-wide Common Operating Environment, or COE. The COE strategy embraces a commercially-based set of standards that enable secure and interoperable applications to be rapidly developed and executed across the computing environments.

“The Army is streamlining product development with COE,” said John Gillette, PM JBC-P team lead for MCE. “MCE will be the standard for systems inside tactical vehicles, while MFoCS will serve as the hardware solution for the Army’s MCE.”

Once established, the COE will allow the Army to develop, test, certify and deploy software capabilities efficiently with reduced development costs, while also encouraging competition.

The first delivery of MFoCS computers, which will be used for integration and testing, is expected within 20 weeks of the contract date.

The quick turnaround reflects PM JBC-P’s initial request for proposal requirement that vendors submit a prototype basic tablet and intermediate computer for evaluation as part of the full and open contract competition.

“We didn’t want them to tell us about it in writing; we wanted them to prove it also,” Satili said. “Our acquisition strategy resulted in an MFoCS vendor able to deliver mature production representative computers which meet the original directed requirement from the Army G-3/5/7.”

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines July 23, 2014

News: Israel’s Iron Dome defense in line for tripled U.S. spending - Israel’s iron Dome missile defense system may end up getting triple the U.S. funding that the Defense Department sought for it in March. Ukraine asked U.S. for systems to counter Russian missiles - A month before the United States says a Russian missile likely brought...
 
 

News Briefs July 23, 2014

U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan at 2,194 As of July 22, 2014, at least 2,194 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to an Associated Press count. The AP count is three less than the Defense Department’s tally. At least...
 
 
Raytheon photograph

Raytheon completes key Air, Missile Defense Radar reviews

Raytheon photograph Partially-populated, full-sized Air and Missile Defense Radar array. Raytheon has completed two critical program reviews for the new Air and Missile Defense Radar, the U.S. Navy’s next generation integ...
 

 
Insitu photograph

Insitu demonstrates long endurance capabilities of Integrator unmanned aircraft

Insitu photograph Insitu’s Integrator unmanned aircraft recovers via SkyHook; the aircraft recently completed a 24-hour endurance flight. Insitu announced July 22 the successful 24-hour flight of its Integrator unmanned a...
 
 

NASA partners punctuate summer with spacecraft development advances

Spacecraft and rocket development is on pace this summer for NASA’s aerospace industry partners for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program as they progress through systems testing, review boards and quarterly sessions under their† Space Act Agreements with the agency. NASA engineers and specialists continue their review of the progress as the agency and partners move...
 
 

U.S. Navy selects Northrop Grumman for ship self-defense system

The U.S. Navy has awarded Northrop Grumman a $12 million task order for a full range of engineering services to continue modernizing the Ship Self-Defense System Mark 2. The contract has a potential value of $61 million over five years, if all options are exercised. SSDS MK2 is a combat system designed for anti-air defense...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>