Jung Dong-mi, left, anchor of the Radio Defense News, and Joo Se-hwan, Lt. junior grade of the Navy, check a new application on their smartpone at the Defense Media Agency in Seoul in this file picture taken in June this year. Courtesy of Defense Media Agency
By Lee Tae-hoon
Korea has developed battlefield applications for Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy S and other Android-based smartphones, a senior defense official said Sunday, adding that nine apps have been completed with more in the pipeline.
“We are paying keen attention to utilizing smartphones for military operations,” he said, noting that development was initiated last year.
“Military units and other organizations that have jointly assessed the suitability of the newly-developed apps have concluded that the mobile software would be assets to the country’s armed forces.”
The nine applications include the Battlefield Augmented Reality System (BARS) that displays maps and animated terrain to assist military planning, and others that relay audio and visual images simultaneously.
The list also includes an application that tracks troops and military units with the use of built-in links to a global positioning system (GPS) and ones that allow soldiers to view and transfer text messages and document files.
A military official said that the Real Time Video Relay Application allows authorized troops to check the situation on the battlefield through their mobile device and share the information with the command center.
He said the Image View Application contains information, such as the characteristics of the enemy’s uniforms and ranks.
He added that BARS will be useful in fog as it displays nearby terrain in 3-dimensions.
“The smartphones with the military apps can also be used as a walkie-talkie,” the official said. “The real-time information about troops and their vehicles will be used as a valuable asset in making better tactical moves.”
A military insider says the Joint Chiefs of Staff will decide the extent of the applications’ use by the end of the year.
“If the military uses the Galaxy S II as the platform for the newly-developed smartphone applications, troops will be able to use the cellphone for at least five to six years without changing it ,” he said. “We are currently studying whether to use the applications on both commercial mobile devices as well as ones exclusively designed for military purposes.”
The U.S. forces in Afghanistan have also been using military applications for smartphones using a military communications network since last year.
Its snipers in Afghanistan use BulletFlight, a ballistics calculator that works with a special mount for an M110 sniper rifle.
They also use the Phraselator, which translates phrases into foreign languages, and “Vcommunicator,” which produces spoken and written translations of 40 foreign languages, including Arabic and Kurdish.