US Army aims to expand vehicle computing systems for lighter and smaller options

As part of the Army network strategy, the service is continually seeking to simplify and improve upon its hardware systems, Dan Lafontaine, PEO C3T Public Affairs, reports on The Army's challenges with vehicle platform integration constraints and soldiers' requests for systems that mimic commercial technology's "look and feel" are spurring these initiatives.

US Army aims to expand vehicle computing systems for lighter and smaller options

Capt. Jake Singleton tests a variety of Joint Battle Command-Platform software and hardware systems at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., on Aug. 3, 2018. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Dan Lafontaine) (Picture source: US Army)

The Army's Project Manager Mission Command is working with platform managers, industry, and the service's research and engineering centers to explore methods to expand the range of vehicle-mounted computers.

A significant need is to reduce hardware size, weight and power, known as SWaP, compared with current versions. Integrating lighter and smaller tablets into mounted platforms would enable greater Soldier mobility, said Lt. Col. Shane Sims, product manager for Joint Battle Command-Platform, which is assigned to PM Mission Command. The Army is searching for computers that can be mounted in vehicles and quickly dismountable when Soldiers need to patrol on foot, and vice versa.

The Mounted Family of Computer Systems, known as MFoCS, is a set of performance standards and specifications that drives requirements for computing power, environmental testing, cybersecurity and commonality of hardware. MFoCS units are the hardware components of the JBC-P system, which also encompasses the network and software to provide secure data encryption, a common map, intuitive interface, chat and logistics information for Soldiers in tens of thousands of Army and Marine Corps vehicles. "We're constantly looking at technology to add to the JBC-P family," Sims said. "We need new options to align with Army priorities of enhanced modernization and improved readiness."

The current system is available in three display sizes -- 12.1 inches, 15 inches and 17 inches. They must pass extensive testing, including road shock, operating and storage temperature, rain, solar radiation, user drop and electromagnetic interference to ensure there are no conflicts with other communications devices. Flexibility to allow insertion of incremental capability development is critical to support the Army's evolving network, Sims said. To support these goals and inform future design decisions, PM Mission Command is conducting developmental operations, known as DevOps, on JCB-P prototypes with units at exercises such as Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment.

The Army has a range of initiatives for its emerging JBC-P systems, including the following:
• Linking mounted platform data to dismounted Soldiers' devices
• Embedding cybersecurity architecture to improve force protection against potential adversaries
• Converging applications with a single tactical, mobile and survivable computer versus multiple

"Soldiers' mission-command needs change rapidly as they move across the battlefield. Our goal is to deliver capabilities that enable their missions," Sims said.

The U.S. Army Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications-Tactical develops, acquires, fields and supports the Army's mission command network to ensure force readiness. This critical Army modernization priority delivers tactical communications, so commanders and Soldiers can stay connected and informed at all times, even in the most austere and hostile environments. PEO C3T is delivering the network to regions around the globe, enabling high-speed, high-capacity voice, data and video communications to a user base that includes the Army's joint, coalition and other mission partners.