Partnerships form for faster fielding of vehicle capabilities

Antonio Citron, an electrical technician with CERDEC's Fabrication Integration Fielding Facility, builds custom military specification cables for the M2AC Bradley Fighting Vehicle at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, Nov. 30, 2017. U.S. Army photo.

As part of an Army priority to expedite fielding of the latest iteration of the service’s friendly force tracking system, Project Manager Mission Command established new and innovative partnerships across APG.

The system — Joint Battle Command-Platform — encompasses the hardware, software and network that delivers situational awareness, chat and route-planning capabilities to vehicles across the fleet. PM Mission Command, which manages JBC-P, sought an additional path to build installation kits in December 2016.

Capt. Doug Williams, JBC-P assistant product manager for hardware integration, leveraged organic Army facilities at the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center. This initiative helped PM Mission Command to upgrade about 500 Bradley Fighting Vehicles in September 2017 as part the Army’s unit set fielding schedule for 3rd BCT, 1st Armored Division at Fort Bliss, Texas.

PM Mission Command established agreements in January 2017 with two CERDEC organizations — the Prototype Integration Facility and Fabrication Integration Fielding Facility — for engineering support and fabrication work of installation kits. The kits consist of cables, mounts, brackets and hardware that are required to integrate processors, display units and transceivers onto the vehicles.

FIFF team lead Karl LaSala oversees 13 personnel assembling the cables and connectors as well as cutting, welding and painting armored steel plating for the Blue Forcing Tracking transceiver brackets.

“We’re designed as an agile facility for developing and fielding quick-reaction capabilities,” LaSala said. “Along with the production work, we’re also updating and correcting flawed design drawings.”

In addition to the partnership with CERDEC, PM Mission Command worked with Aberdeen Test Center to obtain armored steel plating that meets BFV specifications for BFT brackets, Williams said.

Lt. Col. Shane Sims, JBC-P product manager, stressed the necessity for updating these vehicle platforms as part of the Army’s commitment to maintaining a technological advantage.

“Having multiple versions of the system in the field creates training and interoperability issues,” Sims said. “Once complete, it will mark a dramatic leap forward for meeting warfighters’ demand for standardization across the force.”

When the Army introduced JBC-P in 2015, the initial plan was to field 35 brigade-sized formations per year for completion by 2031. However, the Army now anticipates reaching all Active, Reserve and National Guard units no later than 2023 through a new rate of 80 brigade-sized formations per year. Since completing the fielding of 3rd BCT, 1st AD, the JBC-P team has completed two additional Armored BCTs as part of its partnership with CERDEC.

“The end result is modernizing these vehicles, which increases the unit’s readiness. It’s in synch with Army leadership’s priorities. PM Mission Command will continue to seek creative solutions to meet the Army’s accelerated timeline,” Sims said.

By Dan Lafontaine
PEO C3T Public Affairs