May 22, 2005
The U.S. Air Force is introducing major upgrades to its Theater Battle Management Core Systems (TBMCS). This is the software system used by senior commanders, their staffs and all the aircraft and supporting units to plan and carry out combat operations. Systems like this were first developed during World War II, and have been adapted to new technology ever since. The latest version of TBMCS has been upgraded with a lot of new features, most of them based on user feedback since the initial release in 2000. The biggest change is that more, actually most, of TBMCS runs off a web browser. If you have the right passwords, and a secure connection, you can connect to TBMCS from anywhere. This is important because TBMCS is meant to include as many people (involved in military air operations) as possible. One big aspect of the year 2000 release of TBMCS was getting aircraft carriers included. This was not the case with the systems used during the 1991 Gulf War, and the problems that created were a major reason why TBMCS was created in the first place.
The user feedback has led to the development of many very practical tools for TBMCS. For example, theres the Joint Munitions Effectiveness Manual. This is a program that makes it easier for planners to select the right weapon for each target aircraft are assigned to go after. Theres also the Master Air Attack Plan Toolkit, which makes it easier for users to coordinate sorties, missions and targets for combat units. The Airspace De-confliction Tool analyzes the air space warplanes and transports will be operating in, and calculates flight paths for aircraft so that there will be no collisions. This is not as easy as it sounds, and when you have several hundred warplanes and support aircraft flying around the combat zone, the potential for collisions is quite high.
More upgrades for TBMCS are in the works, which include hooking more ground commanders into the system, and making TBMCS a core component of the battlefield Internet.