02 Feb 06. Northrop Grumman Corporation, in partnership with the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army, is implementing Force XXI Battle Command, Brigade and Below (FBCB2) Blue Force Tracking capability on the Joint STARS aircraft. The Department of Defense fast tracked FBCB2 implementation on Joint STARS to improve the military’s ability to pinpoint the location and movement of friendly ground forces.
“Blue Force Tracking provides Joint STARS operators with a significant operational enhancement that will improve overall battlefield situational awareness and tactical decision-making,” said Dave Nagy, vice president of Northrop Grumman’s Joint STARS program. “Bringing Northrop Grumman Mission Systems’ already fielded FBCB2 capability to Joint STARS leverages a key element of the U.S. Army’s evolving battlefield digitization architecture system.”
Modifications are being completed under a $19 million contract awarded in September 2005. A portion of the Joint STARS fleet has already been modified and the rest of the aircraft will be finished by the end of 2006. FBCB2 provides maneuver forces with comprehensive battlefield situational awareness and an efficient digital command and control network for commanders at all maneuver echelons. Battle managers on board Joint STARS will use the Blue Force Tracking information to improve situational awareness and reduce incidents of fratricide. The system depicts a soldier’s current location, the location of other friendly forces and known enemy positions, and the location of threats and obstacles.
LTC Don Douglass, commander of the Army’s Joint STARS Detachment at Robins AFB, Ga., said, “The information provided by FBCB2 will allow us to do some preliminary analysis of the radar’s moving target indicator returns onboard the jet, which will increase the crew’s situational awareness and in the end, better serve both the air and ground commanders.”
The E-8C Joint STARS is the world’s most advanced wide-area airborne ground-surveillance, targeting and battle-management system. It detects, locates, classifies, tracks, and targets hostile ground movements, communicating real-time information through secure data links with Joint and Component command and control elements. All Joint STARS aircraft are assigned to the Georgia Air National Guard’s 116th Air Control Wing, a “total-force blended wing,” based at Robins Air Force Base, Warner Robins, Ga. The wing comprises active-duty Air
Force, Army and Air National Guard personnel.