20 Years Supporting the “Engine of the Air Operations Center”

20 Years TBMCS

The Theater Battle Management Core System (TBMCS) is proudly marking their 20 year anniversary providing support as the premier battle command and control system. TBMCS brought the power of integrated information technology to air warfare, providing advanced command and control for air dominance.

TBMCS has made marked improvements in the centuries-old challenge of warfare- unpredictability. “Water shapes its course according to the nature of the ground over which it flows; the soldier works out his victory in relation to the foe he is facing. Therefore, just as water retains no constant shape, so in warfare there are no constant conditions.” Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Since before the time of Sun Tzu, coordinated command & control has been necessary for success in military conflicts. Commanders around the world have had to address fundamental questions such as, “what is happening?’ “Where are my forces?’ and “what can be done about it?”

In the modern battlefield actionable intelligence can come at any time and any effective command and control structure must be ready to meet the task. TBMCS has synchronized air control power by giving users across the battlefield dynamic, mission critical information, in real-time.

Originally awarded in 1995, under a 5-year, $375 million contract to replace the aging Contingency Theater Air Planning System, a 400+ person team delivered more than 10 million lines of software code for rigorous field testing. TBMCS integrated command & control applications, and communicated with 64 external interfaces, providing a full range of air mission planning and execution, sensor data and intelligence gathering.  In 2000, TBMCS was certified as the ‘system of record’ for air operations by the Department of Defense.

“Since it was fielded 15 years ago, TBMCS has provided a seamless information flow that has made tremendous strides in shortening decision cycles,” said Dr. Robert Smith, vice president of IS&GS C4ISR Systems.  Today TBMCS is deployed at more than 100 locations around the world and is the primary air mission planning system used in some of the most impactful military operations in modern era, including Operation’s Southern Watch, Northern Watch, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom.“

Prior to TBMCS, Air Force systems did not communicate with Navy, Marine Corp, or Army systems, meaning planners could not reliably pinpoint the positions of friendly or enemy forces, making precision operations like close air support risky and dangerous. By creating a shared common operational picture with friendly and enemy air, ground and sea units, TBMCS greatly reduced the risks of friendly fire and enhanced both close air support operations and precision targeting.

TBMCS has expedited the cycle of the air tasking order, which is the day-to-day battle plan for all airborne assets of the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Coalition forces. During the 1990s, much of the air campaign planning was done by arduous and slow hand. This required tremendous manpower and time. Air Tasking Orders were transported on disk via helicopter from the AOC to aircraft carriers and other command centers and developing an ATO could take days or even weeks.

“Before TBMCS, operators would often update mission data on Plexiglas to make it visible to other AOC officials,” said PJ Evans, TBMCS Program Release Manager.  “With TBMCS, Air Tasking Order cycle time went down from 72 hours plus to a repeatable 24 hour cycle.”

TBMCS links approximately 50 systems for the military, integrating ground systems to enable coordinated, synchronized air battle management. It has successfully proven itself as the ‘engine of the Air Operations Center’, for managing all airborne platforms, including fighters, bombers, tankers, unmanned aerial vehicles, fixed wing and cruise missiles.

Today, Lockheed Martin continues supporting the TBMCS legacy, sustaining the security and functionality of this history making system. Rob Smith summarized Lockheed Martin’s  contributions by stating “Lockheed Martin is privileged to have been part of the modernization of the air mission planning for the past 20 years.  Knowing that TBMCS was a key program in history making events emphasizes the successful contributions of the Lockheed Martin team, the distinguished list of teammates and government professionals who helped us reach this monumental achievement.  We look forward to continuing our support to the warfighter in the years to come.”