The U.S. Army Program Executive Office (PEO) Command, Control, Communications – Tactical (C3T) recently announced passage of a critical milestone for its Joint Battle Command – Platform (JBC-P) program, when that activity, which is the follow-on program of record for Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2)/Blue Force Tracking (BFT), received its “Milestone C” decision to move from the engineering and manufacturing development phase to the production and deployment phase.
In addition to allowing soldiers in vehicles, aircraft and command posts to track friendly forces and exchange messages to synchronize operations and reduce fratricide, JBC-P introduces a new user interface with intuitive features like touch-to-zoom maps and drag-and-drop icons.
The JBC-P screen also integrates the functionality of Tactical Ground Reporting (TIGR), a multimedia reporting system that allows lower-echelon soldiers to digitally capture, report and retrieve patrol data such as common incidents, residents and leaders of a village.
“It’s good enough to get you down to the street level view,” said Capt. Ryan McNally, a company commander with the 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division (2/1 AD), who used JBC-P during the recent Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) 12.2. “As long as somebody has been there before and has that imagery uploaded into TIGR, you can see what they’ve seen as you drive down the road.”
PEO C3T representatives highlighted another JBC-P advance involving the introduction of networked handheld devices. A handheld version of JBC-P software will run on Nett Warrior, a soldier-worn, smartphone-like mission command system running various mission “apps.” These handhelds will be fielded to team leaders and above, allowing them to communicate seamlessly within their units and with higher headquarters. Connected through the Rifleman Radio, the handheld devices will deliver timely blue force tracking information down to lower-echelon soldiers, specifically at the team leader through platoon leader level.
An interim step in the evolution of FBCB2 to JBC-P is the Joint Capabilities Release (JCR), which equips soldiers with a faster satellite network known as BFT 2, Marine Corps interoperability, secure data encryption, “chat room” capability and other features. JCR will be fielded as part of Capability Set 13 (CS 13), the Army’s first integrated package of tactical communications gear that will be fielded to eight brigade combat teams starting in October of this year.
The next event milestone for JBC-P will be a Limited User Test planned during NIE 13.1, in November of this year, followed by an Initial Operational Test and Evaluation at NIE 13.2 in the spring of 2013. The results of that testing will lead to a program fielding decision by the Army.