The U.S. Army is testing the Joint Battle Command-Platform smartphone based on Google's Android operating system for field operations, including platoon location via GPS.
The U.S. Army has a new weapon to use in combat
situations: a smartphone based on Google's Android operating system.
The Joint Battle Command-Platform, also known as the
JBC-P Handheld, is the first Android mobile handset developed by the Army for
tactical operations. The smartphone includes mapping application that leverages
GPS to help soldiers navigate unfamiliar areas.
Paratroopers and other Army combat personnel are testing
the JBC-P to ensure that it can execute such critical operations as alerting
fellow soldiers to hostile forces and IEDs (improvised explosive devices), according
U.S. Army blog
Knowing where each platoon is can also help soldiers avoid
friendly-fire casualties suffered in a forward area.
In addition to a mapping app, the phone will run tactical
ground reporting apps, as well as critical messaging programs, an address book
and the Open Office suite for document viewing.
"It's like when you get an iPhone and you have the
Apple-made apps: the contacts, the email," J. Tyler Barton, an
engineer with the Research, Development and Engineering Command's
Command and Control Directorate, told the Army blog. "Then
other applications are free to use those apps, or to go above and beyond
While the phone runs the open-source Android operating
system, the device leverages the Department of Defense's Mobile Handheld
Computing Environment to secure applications and ensure that they are interoperable
with existing mission command systems.
The Army is also evaluating prototypes of the JBC-P to
determine whether to use a government built model or a commercial model in a
rugged tactical case. Several phone makers make ruggedized phones for military
and hospital use.
Casio and Verizon Wireless, for example, just launched
the G'zOne Commando, an Android 2.2 smartphone. The handset adheres to
the MIL-STD-810G military standard for durability, making it suitable for harsh
working environments health care, construction, retail, manufacturing and
Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade, 1St Armored Division will
try out the handhelds and JBC-P software at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., in
Once the Army settles on the hardware and any software kinks
are worked out, both the Army and the Marine Corps could use the JBC-P in 2013.
The military is one area where Apple's iPhone is unlikely
to have a large presence. Clearly, the Army needs to customize the
specifications for its hardware and software, which requires an open-source
approach afforded by Android.
Android is currently the leading U.S. smartphone
platform, accounting for 37 percent of the market, according to