Blue Force Tracking system’s next gen comes closer to real time

The Blue Force Tracking (BFT) system — only a few years ago a wonder of battlespace technology — is in the midst of an upgrade. BFT is a building block of operational awareness. It transmits the location of friendly forces via a satellite connection. Unlike the Enhanced Position Location Reporting System, another location-tracking system, BFT doesn’t rely on terrestrial line-of-sight transmissions for connectivity.

Army directives in 2004 and 2006 extended deployment of BFT to the service’s aviation and unnamed air systems, said Al Abejon, product director of BFT-Aviation. However, the satellite communications lag between an air asset’s actual position and its reported position is a problem. BFT provides a snapshot of operational environment location, Abejon said. “That snapshot has proved good enough for the last five years. Does it meet the stated requirement? No.”

The next generation of BFT, known as the Joint Battle Command-Platform (JBCP), will reduce latency by optimizing the format of data packages, improving BFT data distribution from the network operations center and using more satellites in space to handle traffic, Abejon said. As its name indicates, JBCP will also be a joint service tracker. Interoperability among the military services is still a problem despite some already-fielded software solutions intended to bridge that gap.

About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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