The aviation and defense industry is fundamentally mobile – it’s probably the industry that invented the concept – not only in the transportation of troops and supplies but also the maneuver and relocation of forces, troops or entire bases.
The IT infrastructure essential for the day to day running of all military operations often includes a complex set of legacy systems with communications hubs, in fixed locations, aimed at optimizing the necessary access to software applications and to manage the associated data.
This complexity requires large amounts of space, logistics and maintenance, is costly and lacks agility.
Mobile apps can significantly improve agility by placing applications, processes and information directly into the palm of your hand but optimized for each user’s role. And defense departments around the world are fast realizing that mobile apps technology can be as helpful in A&D as it is in nearly every other industry.
No need to deploy your Enterprise IT – there’s an App for that!
In May, the US Department of Defense (DoD) released its Mobile Defense Strategy, with the objective of creating “a highly mobile workforce equipped with secure access to information and computing power anywhere at any time for greater mission effectiveness”. The DoD strategy pointed out that the advantages of using mobile technology in the field were potentially huge: the ability for personnel to access mission-critical information in the field and to provide a more agile response to a changing tactical situation.
By June, the Defense Information Systems Agency in the US plans to award a contract for a Defense Department app store, to eventually support up to 10,000 applications for users such as the military services, DoD agencies and many combat support agencies. More than 30 apps have already been built for the Army Marketplace, which can be used by soldiers with computers, iPhones and Google Android cell phones.
Similarly, the UK’s Ministry of Defence has developed smartphone apps to provide an alternative to computer-based personnel training, as well as developing its G-Cloud strategy for cloud computing technology – which IFS products are listed on – and this summer, the Australian Government put out a request to industry leaders for information on the viability of providing secure smartphones and tablet computers for military use.
Take our own Flight Log App which tracks critical information on the user’s assets and is applicable to any military asset, from air platforms to wheeled or tracked vehicles or ships. It forms part of IFS’s recently launched Touch Apps series and is designed specifically to help us offer the A&D market just this level of flexibility in the field. Using Flight Log, a synchronized and consolidated flight log, including sortie details, disruptions, faults and crew associated with the sortie, and pre- or post-flight inspections, can now be in the hands of those on the front line.
Long term, with the development and use of mobile apps, the military will be able to extend the A&D IFS solutions from full suite enterprise deployments supported by tablets or netbooks to the use of apps on-site to provide immediate operational updates.
Mobile is Greener too
Mobile apps like Flight Log will also offer the ability to dramatically increase information visibility, operational data feedback and reduce data and process overheads, dramatically simplifying what is traditionally a slow, paper-based process. Combined with the focused presentation of a specific military or defense-related task in a familiar and easy-to-follow format for the warfighter, Flight Log significantly improves efficiency and effectiveness within military operations.
As the MoD and DOD – and companies such as IFS – are designing smartphone apps for military use, we can see that defense communications have come a long way from the time of carrier pigeons; now, communication can be instantaneous, detailed, accurate and focused – and readily optimized for the war fighter – so he can concentrate on his more important core operational task and reduce his process overhead (or overload). By ensuring that critical information can be accessed by troops on the ground – at any time and in any place – the A&D industry can provide a real and meaningful step towards a more agile military.