Web-based battlefield map on the way

Within the next 18 months, military users worldwide will gain Web access to a real-time picture of the battlefield built from information drawn from multiple command and control (C2) systems.

The Air Force on April 8 selected Lockheed Martin Corp. to develop the Family of Interoperable Operational Pictures, a Web-based mapping application that will integrate real-time land, air and sea data to create a complete picture of current battlefield operations.

The program will also include friendly and enemy units on a "point and click" map of the theater. Users will be able to access the map via a laptop or desktop computer using a standard Web browser.

Frank DeLalla, director of theater tactical programs for Lockheed Martin Mission Systems, said FIOP will provide Defense Department users with instant access to joint forces data "that was previously stovepiped through different C2 systems."

"Click on an F-16, an aircraft carrier or a land unit, and users will instantly see detailed information for that object on the map for that day's battle plan," DeLalla said in a statement. "FIOP will also track battlefield events, like targets and their associated bomb damage assessment, in real time."

FIOP will be available to DOD users throughout the chain of command, from the Joint Forces Component Commander to individual wing or unit staff. At each level, users can customize the program to provide them with the information most relevant to their mission.

The contract, awarded by the Air Force Electronic Systems Center, is worth $3.9 million for the first 18 months with additional funding through 2009.

The FIOP program has a spiral development schedule with deliverables every six months. The first full installment is due in October 2004, when the product will be integrated with the Theater Battle Management Core Systems and the Global Command and Control System — Joint, according to a company spokesman.

Lockheed also developed the TBMCS, which is the system of record used by all Defense Department combatant commanders conducting air operations. Air Force officials said it worked extremely well during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

GCCS-J features a common operational picture that top DOD commanders use to control and manage forces. It also gives them near-real-time graphical snapshots of friendly and potential enemy forces.

Future spirals call for integration with airborne, land- and space-based sensors, which would provide an integrated C2 and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capability. Authorized users eventually could download a live video feed from Predator unmanned aerial vehicles and access satellite photos, according to Lockheed.

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