As the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, the U.S. Army has long been protecting our nation’s land-based military operations at home and abroad. But now, the troops have enlisted an additional asset to its defense lineup: Android.
Google’s Android platform will be used to power the Army’s first smartphone: a device aptly called the Joint Battle Command-Platform, or JBC-P Handheld for short. Not to be found in your typical mobile device store, the smartphone will be riddled with a collection of applications, much like our present-day iPhone, that are tailored to help assist in tactical operations on the battle field.
Slated to be previewed by third-party developers in July -- when a development kit for the platform will also be released -- the JBC-P Handheld platform (also called the Mobile/Handheld Computing Environment), will boast of apps targeted toward tasks such as tactical ground reporting, critical messaging, mapping, force tracking, as well as everyday features with an address book and Open Office app.
For example, according to PCMag.com, a soldier will be able to utilize the smartphone to tag on a map an encountered obstacle, such as a roadside bomb or an enemy, which other troops can be notified of and respond to if need be.
“If we see an enemy up front, we could put it in the GPS system," said Spc. Hao Bui, who has already tested the prototype for the device. "Even though [fellow soliders] can't see it, you can mark it for them."
According to the Army, “applications will be secure and interoperable with existing mission command systems so information flows seamlessly across all echelons of the force." Even further, the Army hopes for apps to be able to share data and resources across the platform, thus dodging “stovepiping” issues that many government and military information technology projects have encountered.
According to CNN.com, the JBC-P device will function and communicate over several military radio networks.
Following the development stages, the JBC-P Handhelds will be tested in action in October 2011, during an exercise by the Army’s 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. Upon completion, the smartphone is expected to be released to both the Army and Marine Corps at the start of fiscal year 2013.
Tammy Wolf is a TechZone360 web editor. She covers a wide range of topics, including IP communications and information technology. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Jennifer Russell