Blue Force Tracking

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 Blue Force Tracking is a United States military term used to denote a GPS-enabled system that provides military commanders and forces with location information about friendly (and despite its name, also about hostile) military forces.

In military symbology, the color blue is typically used to designate friendly forces while red is used for enemies, and green or yellow are used for neutral forces.

Blue Force Tracking systems consist of a computer, used to display location information, a satellite terminal and satellite antenna, used to transmit location and other military data, a Global Positioning System receiver (to determine its own position), command-and-control software (to send and receive orders, and many other battlefield support functions), and mapping software, usually in the form of a GIS, that plots the BFT device on a map. The system displays the location of the host vehicle on the computer’s terrain-map display, along with the locations of other platforms (friendly in blue, and enemy in red) in their respective locations. BFT can also be used to send and receive text and imagery messages, and Blue Force Tracking has a mechanism for reporting the locations of enemy forces and other battlefield conditions (for example, the location of mine fields, battlefield obstacles, bridges that are damaged, etc.). Users will include the United States Army, the United States Marines Corps, the United States Air Force and the United Kingdom. Recently, the United States Army, the United States Marines Corps have reached agreement to standardize on a shared system, to be called “Joint Battle Command Platform”, which will be derived from the Army’sFBCB2system that was used by the United States Army, the United States Marines Corps, and the Army of the United Kingdom during heavy combat operations in Iraq in 2003.

Work has begun on plans to reach the level of nearly 160,000 tracking systems in the Army within a few years; the system prime contractor is the Northrop Grumman corporation of Los Angeles, California. The M1A1 Abrams‘s AIM refurbishment/upgrade program includes FBCB2 and Blue Force Tracking.

An Army specific Blue Force Tracking technology is Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below, or FBCB2.

The system continually transmits locations over the FBCB2 network. It then monitors the location and progress of friendly (and enemy) forces, and sends those specific coordinates to a central location called the Army Tactical Operations Center. There the data are consolidated into a common operational picture, or COP, and sent to numerous destinations, such as the headquarters element, other in-theater forces, or back out to other military units for situational awareness.

The system also allows users to input or update operational graphics (i.e. obstacles, engineer reconnaissance on the road, enemy forces). Once uploaded, it can either be sent to higher headquarters or “mailed” to other subscribers of that user’s list, or other BFT users within the subscription system.

Additional capability in some BFT devices is found in route planning tools. By inputting grid coordinates the BFT becomes both the map and compass for motorized units. With proximity warnings enabled the vehicle crew is made aware as they approach critical or turn points.

The BFT system, and the FBCB2 system of which it is a variant, have won numerous awards and accolades, including: recognition in 2001 as one of the five best-managed software programs in the entire U.S. Government, the 2003 Institute for Defense and Government Advancement’s award for most innovative U.S. Government program, the 2003 Federal Computer Week Monticello Award (given in recognition of an information system that has a direct, meaningful impact on human lives), and the Battlespace Information 2005 “Best Program in Support of Coalition Operations”.

[courtesy] source: wikipedia.org  image: delbarital

 

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