US tests SOA-based combat life-saver


BAE Systems demonstrates the blue force identification system.BAE Systems has demonstrated a new system using a service-oriented architecture (SOA) that gives air force pilots a previously unavailable view of friendly forces on the battlefield.

This could significantly reduce “friendly fire” events during combat operations.

The capability combines existing communications, combat identification, and target identification systems, and gives pilots ready access to information about friendly forces in the area.

The Combat Identification (CID) system enables pilots to inquire about friendly forces within a specified area. To do so, the system queries several sources of ground situational awareness data and reports the five most-relevant results to the pilot in less than 10 seconds.

The capability, intended for now for use by American close-air-support aircraft, such as F-15s, F-16s, F/A-18s, CF-18s and A-10s, was demonstrated at the US Joint Forces Command`s Exercise Bold Quest Plus, at Eglin Air Force Base.

"The CID server is a perfect example of how we can improve combat identification capabilities and combat effectiveness and save lives," says Bob Summitt, senior analyst for the Joint Forces Command`s Joint Fires Integration and Interoperability Team, which evaluated the capability. “It gives pilots a view of friendlies in the area that they`ve never had before.”

BAE Systems developed the capability in cooperation with the Joint Forces Command`s J85 Joint Fires Division to fill a gap in air-to-ground combat identification.

The CID server uses SOA to combine existing communications systems, such as Link 16 and surface-to-air data links; situational awareness systems, such as the US Army`s Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below; and combat identification systems, such as radio-based combat identification; and battlefield target identification devices into a single identification friend or foe capability.

“The sharing of information from multiple systems is the essence of net-centric operations,” says Eric Hansen, business development manager for BAE Systems in Greenlawn, New York.

“This is an affordable option because it uses existing equipment and requires no modifications to the aircraft`s existing software or radios, which can take years and millions of dollars to coordinate and certify.”

BAE Systems has a considerable footprint in SA and its IT-heavy Land Systems Dynamics subsidiary operates in a similar space.

It is likely the technology will spread rapidly to other air forces, including SA`s, once proven in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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