The Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl is an annual postseason college footballbowl game that was inaugurated in 2003 as PlainsCapital Fort Worth Bowl reflecting the sponsorship of PlainsCapital Bank. In 2005, the game was without corporate sponsorship. In 2006, Fort Worth based Bell Helicopter Textron took over sponsorship, and thus it became officially known as the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl; Alltel was originally to assume the title sponsorship of the game with its wireless division, but the deal fell through. The contest is one of 11 bowls produced by ESPN Regional Television (a/k/a ESPN Plus) and has been televised annually on ESPN since its inception. Armed Forces Insurance is the official Insurance Partner of the Armed Forces Bowl and has sponsored the Great American Patriot Award, presented at halftime at the Bowl, since 2008.
The bowl's partnership with the Big 12 Conference ended with the 2005 season. From the 2006 through the 2009 playings of the game the Mountain West Conference was signed to provide a team to face either a team from the Pacific-10 Conference or Conference USA (depending on the year; Pac-10 teams would play in odd number years while C-USA teams would play in even numbered years). As such, the 2006 and 2008 games featured Conference USA teams Tulsa and Houston, respectively, whereas California represented the Pac-10 in 2007. The Pac-10 was unable to send a representative to the game in 2009, so Conference USA sent Houston to the game for a second consecutive year. In 2010, since the Mountain West did not have enough eligible teams and Army was bowl eligible, they played SMU in the Armed Forces Bowl.