Army upgrades ruggedized vehicle-mounted computers, force tracking software

The Army is acquiring and modernizing vehicle-mounted consolidated ruggedized computer systems and force-tracking software designed to help soldiers on the move access combat-relevant information from vehicles and in dismounted operations.

The technology, called a Mounted Family of Computer Systems (MFoCS), synthesizes hardware components as well as software, sensors and communications equipment to provide a more seamless soldier computing experience.

The new computers are part of an accelerated fielding of a next-generation force tracking software called Joint Battle Command – Platform (JBC-P). The technology uses moving digital maps with colored graphic icons showing friendly and enemy force locations, expedites chat functions and allows access to combat-relevant intelligence information.

Building upon the now-fielded initial version of MFoCS, the Army is now seeking to leverage faster processing speeds and improved touch screen technology for an MFoCS Increment 2 upgrade.

Leonardo DRS (an Italian-owned defense firm) has previously received at least $53 million in orders for the computers. DRS, the incumbent manufacturer, is now developing initial models of its MFoCS Block Two for delivery to the Army as part of a bid to compete for a new production deal.

Army program managers have said that the vision of MFoCS is to use a single tactical computer to run multiple applications. Army statements explain that there are three building blocks to MFoCS; the basic configuration is a tablet using a 12, 15 or 17-inch display.

The tablets are ruggedized and operate on a 25-foot cable so soldiers inside a vehicle can pass the display around or even detach it and take it outside.

DRS’ MFoCS 2 offering incorporates a multi-touch display screen, developers explained.  

“What the user will experience is an increasingly intuitive user interface which we call multi-touch functionality able to expand or shrink an image,” said Bill Guyan, vice president of business development, Leonardo DRS. “This will be very helpful in the future when you are looking at maps of different scales.”

Guyan added that their MFoCS 2 bid incorporates faster processing speed along with excess storage and memory.

“You can pass images between computers or run multiple applications,” Guyan said.

By 2024, MFoCS will be synchronized with the same upgraded software called Joint Battle Command-Platform.

The combined capabilities of JBC-P and MFoCS deliver the Army's next-generation friendly force tracking system, an Army statement said.



"The most recent developments in the system -- ease of use and high reliability -- are aimed at enhancing the qualities that JBC-P and MFoCS are known for throughout the Army," Lt. Col. Shane Sims, product manager for JBC-P, assigned to Project Mission Command, said in an Army statement.  "The Army needs newer and more robust hardware to support future software upgrades. Getting this to soldiers faster will pave the modernization path for the Army's Mounted Computing Environment."

About the Author

Kris Osborn is editor-in-chief of Defense Systems. He can be reached at kosborn@1105media.com.