Strike aircraft might get new combat ID tool

Server technology would give pilots on-demand request capability

The Joint Forces Command is evaluating server technology that would provide pilots with a previously unavailable on-demand request capability for ground-based friendly force location information. Designed for fixed-wing strike aircraft in a coalition environment, the situational awareness system would help U.S. and coalition air crews determine which targets to hit and what to avoid on the ground.

Feeding from friendly force-tracking systems, such as Blue Force Tracking, a combat identification (CID) server developed by BAE Systems allows pilots to receive real-time situational awareness data in the cockpit to quickly verify the locations of friendly forces in a specific area to avoid friendly fire. The CID server queries several friendly force-tracking sources, such as BFT, and then reports back to the aircraft in seconds with the five closest friendly positions in the vicinity of a chosen target.

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“Although the CID server is not currently deployed, funding has been reprogrammed to get the system to a deployable status and address some requirements that have emerged in theater,” said John Miller, Bold Quest operational manager at Joint Forces Command. “That deployment decision is ongoing as a result of the past successful demonstrations of the CID server at Bold Quest.”

Since 2007, the CID server has been part of Bold Quest, the Joint Forces Command’s series of coalition CID capability assessments. Most recently, in fall 2010, Bold Quest 10-Norway was the first event in which a U.S. CID server and a recently developed United Kingdom CID server from General Dynamics operated side by side, demonstrating that they were interoperable. At Bold Quest 10-Norway, Norwegian ground and air forces were able to successfully communicate with the U.S. and U.K. CID servers and with one another.

About a dozen countries will participate in the Bold Quest 2011 operational demonstration scheduled in September near Indianapolis. Bold Quest 2011 will focus on combat identification related to fires on dismounts. At that event, CID servers will provide ground force location information to elements that provide supporting fires, such as coalition aircrews, joint terminal air controllers and fires coordinators.

“Nations bring their own friendly force-tracking technologies to Bold Quest, and they are not always designed to interoperate,” Miller said. “The CID server has demonstrated that it can take that friendly force location information from different sources and provide it on demand in a coalition environment.”

About the Author

Greg Slabodkin is a contributing editor to Defense Systems.

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