Within weeks, Marines manning the M1A1 Abrams tank will have the latest Joint Battlefield Command-Platform at their fingertips. Two teams from Marine Corps Systems Command worked together to send the much-needed communications system into the field.
“The fleet and tank community are looking forward to this,” said Capt. Hans Carnice, project officer in Tank Systems in MCSC’s Armor and Fire Support Systems. Carnice led the team that provided the command-and-control platform, otherwise known as JBC-P or Blue Force Tracker 2.
Blue Force Tracking is a U.S. military term for a GPS-enabled system that provides military commanders and forces with location information about friendly and hostile military forces.
“We can extend the range of communications, which improves tank commanders’ situational awareness,” the captain said. “JBC-P reduces the information lag, or latency, of the present system and is a big improvement over what we used in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Once deployed, Carnice said the system will enhance combat effectiveness of friendly forces and integrate the blue force common tactical picture into a common operational picture. JBC-P will operate within the global information grid to identify, classify and characterize the status of joint and coalition forces in the battlespace, thus supporting the full range of military operations.
Blue Force Tracker 2 fielding started July 6 with the 2nd Tank Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Besides the M1A1 tank, the system will also be installed in the near future in the Assault Amphibious Vehicle, M88A2 Tank Retriever and High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, or HMMWV. Assault Breacher Vehicles will receive their JBC-P kits starting later this fall.
Carnice worked with his counterpart Dan Scarber, JBC-P project officer in MCSC’s Marine Air-Ground Task Force Command, Control and Communications, or MC3, to develop and deliver the system to Marines.
AFSS and MC3 are product offices at MCSC, the acquisition command of the Marine Corps. The command equips and sustains Marine forces with the most capable and cost-effective ground weapon and information technology systems.
“Our offices have been working together for a couple years on the JBC-P,” Scarber said. “Marines were given the original Blue Force Tracker years ago. Now, we’re fixing the logistics tail and support to make sure they’re the same as for the Army, making the system interoperable between the services.”
In fact, Scarber said the joint features built into Blue Force Tracker 2 will offer a common operating picture for the Navy, Army, Air Force and Marine Corps as mandated by the Joint Requirement Oversite Council.
Besides the benefit Marines gain from Blue Force Tracker 2 deployment, MCSC will also reap benefits from the collaboration between MC3 and Tank Systems.
“We were the testbed for getting two separate shops together to field a combined system downrange,” Scarber said. “We achieved efficiencies in integrating the systems, putting our platform into their platform. That plus cost savings created a solution for the entire tank community.”
The last M1A1 tank to be fitted with JBC-P should roll out to Marines in the field by the end of October.