New system for air war

Before the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Air Force mission planners had to hand-carry aerial battle plans on disks via helicopter to air command centers at bases or on aircraft carriers.

But this changed three years ago when Lockheed Martin Mission Systems Inc. deployed the Theater Battle Management Core System, which is now managing thousands of flights a day in Iraq. With the push of a key, the system enables Air Force personnel to send plans via a secure network to theater commands.

The main purpose of the system is to enable the Air Operations Center, the command responsible for planning, managing and executing complex air battles, to issue a daily joint battle plan, known as the air tasking order for the military services.

The new system allows planners to generate daily air tasking orders with three times the targeting and unit information, with a third less staff and in half the time, said Matt Kramer, a company spokesman. It has enabled air mission commanders to react to what is unfolding on the battlefield much quicker than before, he said.

"The old system didn't give you the best shared picture of air, land and sea operations," Kramer said. Planners using the system "are literally looking at a map of the battlefield with friendly units laid out in real time or near real time," he said.

Lockheed Martin is currently working on several key enhancements, including enabling authorized users to access the system via the Web through a laptop or browser, an enterprise application server that supports the deployment of advanced applications using extensible markup and other languages, and a patch upgrade process that reduces system administration time and effort without disrupting operations.


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