PART VII – TRW TACTICAL SYSTEMS LOOKS TOWARD THE FUTURE
By Scott R. Gourley
From its critical roles in the digitization of “Legacy” and “Interim” forces to emerging opportunities in “Objective Force” planning and homeland defense, TRW plays critical roles in a myriad Army command, control and communications programs. Recent acquisition by Northrop Grumman (the company is awaiting the paperwork that will finalize the new ownership) has done nothing to slow TRW’s involvement in all aspects of the digital arena. BATTLESPACE recently spoke with Otto Guenther, Vice President and General Manager, TRW Tactical Systems, in an effort to learn more about some of its ongoing battlefield digitization efforts and battlefield support programs.
FBCB2/Gulf Digitization Initiative
Now being fielded to both legacy and interim force elements, Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2) provides a “signature” example of TRW’s pivotal role in applying digitization to provide battlespace situational awareness and enhanced command and control functions.
Noting that the program has yet to face its formal Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) milestone (currently scheduled for March – April 2002), Guenther described some of the initial positive field reports from the recent Millennium Challenge ’02 (MC’02) experiment and addressed the possibility of future system expansion into the U.S. Marine Corps.
“When I looked at the lessons learned [at Millennium Challenge ’02] that General Kernan [Commander in Chief, Joint Forces Command – sponsoring organization for
MC’02] talked about, one of the things that he specifically said from a joint warfighting perspective is that it is very important for the Army and the Marines to continue to try to work together on their systems and not have to build bridges and interfaces. Well, I think in both communications systems and command and control systems, the more we can build into those systems in terms of interoperability between forces, the better off we’ll be. I think that’s a ‘To Do’ yet. Thus far, to the best of my knowledge, the Marine Corps has not bought any FBCB2 capability. We will continue to talk to them about it though.
They obviously have been out to the NTC and observed it both at Millennium Challenge as well as when we’ve had our own warfighting exercises where they’ve actually seen it in action,” Guenther said.
At the same time that TRW is talking with the Marines regarding FBCB2, the U.S. Army has just announced a parallel expansion of selected FBCB2 capabilities under a program known as the “Gulf Digitization Initiative” (GDI).
Under a 10 September 2002 contract award from U.S. Army Communications Electronics Command (CECOM), TRW Tactical Systems (Carson, California) was awarded a $13,816,534 contract to equip approximately 216 vehicle platforms operating in the Persian Gulf area with a level of FBCB2 communications and tracking capabilities. GDI is similar in concept to the ongoing Balkan Digitization Initiative (BDI) and includes installation and fielding
services, together with an L band satellite hub and data server (the approximately 700 vehicles now equipped with limited FBCB2 capabilities in the Balkans utilize Ku-band satellite communications). Completion of the new GDI
installations in expected by the end of November.
“Understand that the Gulf Digitization Initiative is not totally FBCB2,” Guenther explained. “GDI is a capability to provide some blue force tracking capability and minimal command and control to our friendly units over there. It’s a modified FBCB2, if you will: The same principles of what FBCB2 works on – an internet capability and so forth – but it’s really to help them get situational awareness.”
In addition to expanding the tactical applications for FBCB2, as under GDI, TRW is also looking toward emerging homeland security requirements as likely new applications for the company’s command