Author: Valpolini, Paolo
Date published: April 1, 2010
Most of these systems are being developed along the same lines to provide lethality and effects, protection and survivability, C4I, sustainability, mobility, training and logistics. Deep integration, situational awareness and net-centric ability are but a few of the topics that came back most frequently in the early discussions on soldier modernisation programmes. However, while those topics remained high on the list during initial trials, other issues surfaced, particularly weight, comfort and energy supply.
Although they maintain their connectivity with the great battlefield network, soldier modernisation suites are becoming more soldier-centric. This is exemplified by the American Land Warrior and its presence in Iraq, which is deeply affecting the design of the Ground Soldier Ensemble.
Weight reduction has really turned out to be a thorn in the flesh: the amount of ammunition carried by the soldiers and the heavy reserve of water required is simply not compressible. Thus gazes turned to electronics and electro-optics, although quantum leaps in miniaturisation require heavy investments resulting in higher costs, at least initially. New trends are emerging, with flexibility and modularity replacing integration, because even if integrated loads can provide him all-round capabilities, a soldier will be reluctant to carry facilities that he knows will not be needed.
Optronics is one of the fields in which some countries are reconsidering their plans. Back-up iron sights are again finding their place on modern rifles, while light aiming sighting systems are being considered more and more. Red-dot sights have become a standard and can be used in combination with image intensifiers. holographic sights are becoming a common add-on for close-range engagements, light-magnified sights also being part of the suite offered to the warfighter - most of those items weigh less than 300 grams. As for round-the-corner shooting, the 135-gram Aimpoint Concealed Engagement Unit is being adopted by some programmes that gave up fully integrated optronic sights. Not only are those systems lighter, but they are also considerably less power demanding, if one bears into consideration that the batteries of the most recent Aimpoint sights can last up to 80.000 hours - that is about eight years of operation.
Clothing, almost historically relegated to lesser priorities, is now getting some limelight. The need to control the soldier's body temperature has become paramount, and this includes protection against direct exposure to flames. Close integration of clothing and ballistic protection is required. As no body armour will ever be breathable, cooling vests are increasingly becoming popular. They help to maintain airflow and reduce sweating. Currently the most integrated system is probably the one being developed for the German IdZ-ES byTexplorer. which also enables it to be used as a blunt-trauma liner.
The weight issue is definitely taken seriously by fabric producers as exemplified by Gore with its Gore Performance Zone concept that allows to halve the weight of a rain jacket from 1.1 kg to 550 grams and at the same time reduce its volume from four to 1 .8 litres, not to mention limit friction noise and improve breathability - all this at a cost increase of around 30%. How much would it cost to proportionally reduce electronic equipment or a ballistic protection weight within those parameters?
More and more importance is thus being placed on items once considered low-tech and of lesser significance. Those allow the soldier to live better on the field, thanks to greater comfort and lighter weight. Protection is the other key factor. Even if it will never reach sufficient levels, spectacular progress in this sector is awaited.
With the order for 16.454 Félin systems signed by the French DGA in late November 2009, the Armée de Terre will be the first western army to field an integrated soldier modernisation programme that has reached industrialisation status. The final six-month field testing, which ended last July (2009), was carried out by one full company and two platoons that operated in various environments such as hot and dry in Djibouti, hot and humid in French Guyana, cold in the Alps, not to mention the operational shooting training centre (Ceito) and at the urban warfare training centre (Cenzub) at Sissonne in north-eastern France.
Involved were the Régiment de Marche du Tchad company and two platoons, one of the 8th Régiment Parachutiste d'infanterie de Marine and one of the 13th Batallion de Chasseurs Alpins. No major problems were encountered. Even in hot and humid climates, the Optronics suites didn*t show failures in spite of 20°C to 60°C thermal bounces. Soldiers enjoyed the quality of their electro-optical sights and soon started to exploit them to the full, discovering the major advantages of thermal imaging even in daytime.
The use of Optronics on most weapons showed, however, that the relatively narrow field-of-view provided by the image intensification and the thermal imaging sights (respectively 7° and 3.5° and 7.8° and 3.9°). tended to draw too much from the soldiers' attention on the target; this will require the adaptation of tactics and doctrine.
Doctrine rethinking may also be useful to fully exploit the dismounted battle management system that ensured continuity between mounted and dismounted operations, something that was enhanced by the efficiency by the radio and the osteo headset. The synergy between mounted and dismounted soldiers was only partly reproducible at the Cenzub centre since the Vabs employed were not yet equipped with the vehicle integration kit that includes a smart power distribution unit, which is designed to provide energy to individual ports, collective battery chargers and Jim medium-range imager carrying cases.
Interestingly, the French Army is not too concerned about the time taken by the GPS system to provide immediate positioning once debussed. as it believes that if the infantry team disembarks for immediate fighting nobody will have any time to look at their BMS. If. on the other hand, the team leaves for a long-term operation, the 15 to 20 seconds necessary to acquire the satellite constellation has no adverse influence.
While the first Vab Félins will be delivered in 2010. the all-new VBCI is readyfitted for the system and will start to be delivered with the Félin kit in 2011.
Lessons learned during the operational evaluation brought some minor adjustments. The electronic vest was optimised to better match the various configurations. Software was also modified mostly in terms of prioritisation of the different functions within the menus, following the inputs coming from some 250 to 300 personnel who used it intensively in different combat situations. The Félin has now entered mass production, with the last contract upping the total to the 22,588-unit mark - as planned. Each battalion is to receive some 1000 systems, which means a total of 70.000 single items in about 25 containers. Prime contractor Sagem will deliver the battalion-size kits to the Direction Centrale du Matériel de l'Armée de Terre, which will then forward them to the units. Over 3000 systems should be delivered in 2010 after which the flow will reach 4000 systems per year.
The mass production kick-off does not mean that Félin development will stop. In early 2010 a contract was signed for the development of a new radio known as the Rif-NG (Réseau d'Information du Fantassin - Nouvelle Génération). The current radio proved to be satisfactory. although some range problems were encountered in the heavy vegetation areas of French Guyana. At any rate a change of frequency will be needed, as the current 830 to 862 MHz band is also used by civilian systems. No decision has yet been taken on new frequencies: lower frequencies, such as the 225 to 400 MHz band, would give range advantages in spite of a bandwidth reduction, while anything around 4 GHz might provide too short a range. Sagem aims at providing the new radio around the 2013-14 timeframe. By that time, fuel cells might have matured into a weight saving option for power generation.
As exemplified by the Félin (q.v.) for example, field tests do not necessarily lead to major changes in a programme, but unfortunately this was not true of the Infanterist der Zukunft - Erweitertes System (IdZ-ES, future infantryman - expanded system), which is the German second-generation future soldier being developed by Rheinmetall as a replacement for the current IdZ fielded in Afghanistan.
Following the risk-reduction trials carried out in El Paso. Texas and Munster, Germany, and which initially involved mechanised infantry and subsequently other army disciplines such as paratroopers, mountain troops, infantry and Navy and Air Force security forces, the system is undergoing major alterations. This results from the realisation by the Bundeswehr that, while modularity may have adverse effects on weight and volume compared to an integrated system, one seldom needs to bring all the subsystems in action, and that in the end the greater flexibility afforded by modularity outweighs integration advantages. This change in philosophy led the BWB to issue new requirements and, under the guidance of Rheinmetall (which acts as system integrator and provides part of the hardware), some components have been scrapped and replaced by modular items, others underwent an outright redesign, while yet others were modified for ergonomie considerations - including weight saving.
As a result the core of the system, the Rheinmetall Canada computer unit, is now much lighter, provides better computing performance and is less power hungry. The same applies to the portable control computer, which equips only the infantry group commander.This unit now has a separate display as the army required to move the two batteries, previously hosted in the 'electronic backpack", to the side of the carrying vest to allow the soldier to replace them by himself (it previously was a buddy-buddy operation). This has in turn provided extra space to insert the group commander's computer in the electronic backpack, which now also hosts a military GPS receiver (the standard GPS remaining part of the pack, located on top of the Thaďes Solar 400 E UHF radio set).
The power supply has been centralised, a computer-managed system allowing for considerable energy savings and thus greater mission endurance. The control unit/auxiliary display has been made more user friendly and now includes an electronic compass.
Turning to night vision, the choice went to Thaies France/Angenicux Lucie II (Minie) goggles. These are connected by cable to the system (a battery kit is available when used without the ídZ-ES kit). The Carl Zeiss Optronics Video Visier (VV) was the main victim of the new modular philosophy. The VV was providing a target designation capability, which is now assigned only to the squad leader and his deputy. The G36 will therefore be equipped with a rifle scope which might remain the current x3 scope (a Zeiss x4 scope remains an alternative), night capability being provided by the Carl Zeiss Optronics NVS600 clip-on image intensification device, although a thermal imaging look-through system is also being considered. The Aimpoint Concealed Engagement Unit is adopted for aroundihe-corner observation and shooting.
For longer-range weapons, such as the MG4 light machine gun and the M82 12.7 mm sniper rille, the vision system remains the Wärmebildzielgerät developed by Aim Infrarot Module: the spotter has a Carl Zeiss Optronics Spotter 60 scope with variable magnification from x20 to x60. Another night vision system that will disappear from the IdZ-ES is the JenaOptronik Wärmebildbeobachtungsgerät binocular thermal imager and target acquisition system, which will migrate to platoon level.
Target acquisition capabilities at squad level will be provided by a system with lesser capabilities - either the Vector 2 1 Nite day/night binocular or the Moskito day/night target acquisition unit, both from Vectronix. For the AG36 40-mm Underbarrel Grenade Launcher, as well as for the two types of anti-tank rocket, the Dynamit Nobel Defence Panzerfaust 3 and RGW 60 launchers, the choice for the fire control system went to the BR8 manufactured by Aimpoint of Sweden. This unit weighs less than 1.2 kg and its laser range finder has a range of 600 metres and it can accommodate a x3 sight to improve target identification.
Most of the weapons will receive some degree of modification to improve ergonomics. The H&K G36 is being equipped with back-up iron sights and an adjustable, folding butt-stock to allow a better bedding of the weapon when wearing body armour. Rounding up the improvements, a push-to-talk (PTT) button is installed on both sides of the hand guard, while the laser rangefinder switches are located close to the trigger guard.
The MG4 receives the same upgrading, with three more buttons located on both sides of the butt-stock for PTT capability, field-of-view changing on the Wärmebildzielgerät and locking. The same buttons are found on the G82 sniper rifle, plus the laser button. The MP7 and 40-mm UGL only get the PTT button while the PzF3 gets push buttons for both PTT and the laser rangefinder while the position of the Picatinny rail is optimised for the BR8 fire control unit.
The other part of the equipment that was deeply modified due to the new modular approach is the clothing and protection system, developed by Texplorer. Rain and chemical-biological protection are now separate items, while modular protection against cold conditions down to -3O0C. a new battle dress in a soft and heavy versions (with long and short jacket, respectively for light and mechanised infantry) are part of the system. All items have undergone flame retardant tests and protection against insects has also received attention.
The ballistic protection suite includes a new SK 1 protective vest and improved cooling shirt, which is supplemented by the SK 4 ballistic protection that comes in individual sizes and optimised shapes and integrates modular splinter protection for the neck, arms and groin. The front and rear Twaron/ceramic plates weigh one kilo less than the earlier ones. The Swout cooling vest also proved to be effective in wintertime (to avoid perspiration and the consequent chilling effect when cooling down) and has shown a considerable decrease of a soldier's thermal signature.
To allow better integration with the Puma and Boxer vehicles. Texplorer has developed two versions of modular carrying systems. The 'Alpha', optimised for mechanised troops, ensures that the electronic backpack has minimal weight and volume to provide good mobility inside the vehicle, a proper seating position and improved mounting/dismounting. The light infantry version, also known as "Zulu", is optimised for soldiers conducting mostly dismounted operations and can carry 30. 50 or 110-litrc backpacks.
The new contract with Rheinmetall was signed in December 2009 and involves the manufacture of ten soldier kits of one type, but kits that are flexible enough to allow the implementation of variations and thus suit the requirements of various special units in view of subsequent field trials. This "pilot lot' will be delivered in December 2010, final testing and integrated operational testing is scheduled for the first six months of 201 1 . Upon completion, those tests will dictate which components will become part of the production systems. Production will then have to be confirmed by Parliament, with a contract to be signed by the end of 2011 to see deliveries start by mid-2012, with the last of the currently planned 438 kits reaching their units by the end of 2015.
Production and delivery of the first 92 prototypes of the Soldato Futuro suite was expected to take place in 2009, but has somewhat slipped to the right of the calendar following two stress tests initially conducted on three prototypes, and later (in September 2009) on ten pre-production units. The trials, carried out at the Army Infantry School of Cesano near Rome, highlighted required improvements related to the night vision system known as Nimos (Night Mobility Subsystem) and to the Aspis individual combat weapon system.
Feedback mainly pointed to ergonomie factors, minor on the Aspis. but more dramatic regarding the Nimos. leading Selex Galileo to totally repackage the subsystem to improve its balance on the helmet. Aimed at replacing traditional night vision goggles, the early configuration of the Nimos had a low-light-level digital sensor installed on one side of the helmet and a colour helmet-mounted display (HMD) on the opposite side. This not only allowed to see the low-light-sensor's pictures but also display the images provided by the Aspis as well as maps, images and messages from the C4I system. The new layout will see the sensor mounted in front of the helmet and the related cabling reduced. A first batch of 30 systems was under production in late 2009 and early 2010. with delivery having been slated for February at time of writing. Involved are six kits in the commander version, six in the grenadier and 18 in the rifleman version. They will undergo a further stress test at the infantry school before being sent to the digitisation test unit, where they will be fully tested - and this will include checking their integration with the new Freccia 8x8 armoured infantry vehicle.
These tests will last some four to five months, after which all feedback will be used to hone the 62 remaining kits. The first 30 will also be upgraded to the same configuration to fulfil the current order for 92 units. Final tests at company level will then take place before launching the production of first batch.This will include 1583 kits destined to the 82nd and to the 9th Infantry Regiments of the Pinerolo Brigade, which will thence become the first Italian Army medium digitised brigade.
Testing at the digitisation unit will also be used to carry out integration activities with all the Esercito's digitisation systems such as the Siccona C2I. Siccona C2 and navigation system and so forth. The lower echelon C2 and navigation system were partially tested during the first major firing exercise (involving the Freccia) conducted at Capo Teulada in Sardinia in mid-December 2009. Using their wearable computer and the Selex Communications Individual Pocket Radio (IPR).mortarmen using the Hirtenberger 60-mm mortar were able to obtain the exact target range from the vehicle's laser rangefinder and also obtain rapid corrections. These field trials and the previous testing at the infantry school led to a full validation of the C4I component in terms of messages, voice, navigation and shared situational awareness.
The Beretta ARXl 60 and its grenade launcher, the GLX 160, have been tested downrange in Afghanistan by parachute units. The feedback brought a series of improvements, mostly linked to ergonomics and handling. The rifle butt was shortened in order to better adapt the weapon when body armour is used, while the bolt can now be disassembled. A new type of plastic material with harder surface properties will also be used for some components. The new release of the ARX 160 was expected for January 2010.
Another item, which is being provided beside the Soldato Futuro programme but which is in fact part of it, is the new modular body armour. Compared to the current AP/98 body armour, the new item, known as NC-09, will increase protection due to the numerous add-on elements, will improve wcarabilily and comfort, and will decrease the weight in the basic configuration. The NC-09 is made of forward and backward plate carriers and flexible ballistic elements.
In mid-September 2009 the Israel Defense Force carried out a major field exercise which saw for the first time the whole 36th Armoured Division operating with the Digital Army Programme equipment.
This first major digitisation test also involved part of the Golani brigade, the first to be equipped with the Dominator equipment of the Integrated Infantry Combat System (IICS) - also called Anog.
Elbit was chosen to be the system integrator of the entire Anog programme, the goal of which is to increase the infantry soldier's and the battalion's operational effectiveness by broadening its scope way beyond the mere improvement of equipment typically carried by the soldier and extending it to stand-off sensors and unmanned systems.
Elbit established an infantry integration laboratory in which each system - either produced by Elbit. controlled companies or by subcontractors - was examined and tested, from concept stages through to demonstration and certification. What is commercially known as the Dominator is centred on the soldier, whose Personal Digital Unit ruggedised tactical computer with integral GPS runs both the IICS C2 and the Tactical Intranet Geographic dissemination in Real time (Tiger) systems, which integrates all force levels into one dynamic tactical intranet, thereby creating interest-based, geographic data dissemination. Man-machine interface is provided by a hand-held eyepiece that can display C4I pictures and live video from built-in line-of-sight sensors. Commanders also have a touch-screen hand-held display for mission planning and message receipt and transmission (a recent version of the latter offers extremely low-power consumption and maintains a low visibility signature to infantrymen through its exceptionally low-light emission).
Although not yet part of the Dominator, the new S-Nav (Soldier-Navigation) system developed by Elbit attracted considerable interest from the Israel Defense Force, as it would still provide navigation facilities when the GPS is out of reach, as would happen in underground or urban areas. Based on advanced algorithms and sensors, the system measures the soldier's footsteps, walking speed, stride length and direction and then calculates his exact iocation. The S-Nav accurately measures altitudechanges, such as those occurring between floors and thus provides continuous three-dimensional location. The S-Nav sensors are positioned close to the soldier's body and 'learn' his movements. About the size of a cell phone, it weighs only 155 grams and its low power consumption enables it to operate for extended periods of time.
The Torc2h mounted/dismounted soldier battle management system provides commanders and crew with a simplified operational interface, enhanced situational awareness and data communication capabilities. In terms of communication assets the individual soldier can cither be equipped with the Tadiran PNR-500 or the PRC-710 MB. The PNR500 Personal Net Radio, operates in the UHF 410 to 450 MHz band, provides three-way conferencing on a single channel and supports air, sea and ground communications. The PNR-500, with its 0.25W output, weighs less than 370 grams and is used for intra-squad communication and as wireless unit inTadiran's vehicular intercom system. The PRC-710 MB VHF/UHF Works in the 30 to 512 MHz bandwidth and with its five-watt output allows much longer-range communications and is normally carried by commanders.
Elbit Systems recently added the Lily family of thermal weapon sights to the Dominator system. The LiIy-S, developed for standard assault weapons, is based on a thermal uncooled Vox microbolometer sensor operating in the 8 lo I2-um bandwidth. It and can be provided in two different versions, with a 640 ? 480-pixel sensor providing a x3 magnification and a 13.3° x 10.9° field-of-view, or a 384 ? 288pixel sensor with a x4 magnification and an 8.0° x 6.0° field-of-view. Weighing one kilo including batteries it detects vehicles at 2.5 km and identifies them at one. while a man can be detected at 1.5 km and identified at 500 metres.
The LiIy-M is dedicated to sniper rifles and operates in the 3-5 µm band with a 480 x 384-pixel InSb (Intium Antimonide) sensor; much heavier, at 3.1 kg with batteries, it operates on two different focáis, wide 8° x 10° and narrow 2° x 2.5°. It also features a CCD daylight camera with a 7.5° ? 10° field-of-view and features a CCIR or an RS- 170 A video output as well as an Ethernet or an EIA-422 communication port. Optional equipment includes a remote control unit, a clip-on laser pointer and an external battery pack. The LiIy-M allows to detect a vehicle at eight km and to recognize it at four, while a man can be detected at five km and recognised at two.
The other thermal imaging system developed by Elbil's El-Op and available to the Dominator is the Mars, a 1.7 kg uncooled. hand-held, short-range system with target acquisition capabilities. Low on power consumption and with an endurance of over eight hours before recharge, the Mars is an optimal solution for a wide range of applications including security and perimeter defence, infantry, scouts. special units and target acquisition for infantry commanders.
The medium-range target acquisition system is the Coral-CR. which started operational trials with the Golani infantry brigade and is known as Amit Acquisition' in Israeli service. It has a cooled sensor operating in the 3 to 5-pm bandwidth. Designed for medium-range observation it includes a daylight CCD camera, a digital magnetic compass and a G PS receiver. With a weight of 3.4 kg with batteries, it can be used effectively up to five kilometres.
As mentioned earlier, the Dominator extends its capabilities to the use of robotics, the images of which can be received by the soldier. Among those the Skylark drone, the Viper stair-climbing robot and the Guardium. Developed by G-Nius (a 50:50 Israel Aerospace Industries and Elbit joint venture), the Guardium is an advanced third-generation vehicle based on the off-road Tornear and features autonomous operation allowing precise steering across pre-defined routes programmed in its mission profile. Deployed by the IDF as force protection asset.it will soon be followed by the Nahshon. G-Nius was awarded a development contract for the new car in early September 2009 to offer improved autonomous movement and operational performance. It will also have a greater payload capacity to provide higher operational flexibility and allow activity in various combat scenarios, since it will also be able to perform combat support missions.
Following the deployment of urgent operational requirements such as the Enhanced Low-latency Situational Awareness (also known as Elsa and which started in 2007 to include an improved version of the Selex Galileo Personal Role Radio and Thaďes UK Miltrak C3I system), and the Sista surveillance and target acquisition system, which included Trijicon Acog sights, the year 2009 marked the real beginning of the British Future Integrated Soldier Technology (Fist) programme. Kick-off came with the announcement of the contract for Increment IA, which itself represents the Increment I Surveillance and Target Acquisition segment that has been assigned to Thaďes UK. It will treat the Fire Team as a platform, with a view to improving mobility and engagement capabilities throughout a 24-hour period resulting from precise target location and improved CQB capabilities. Its adoption is expected to lead to a 35% reduction in blue-on-blue casualties.
As prime contractor. Thaďes UK is in charge of programme management, with hardware being provided by numerous subcontractors. A new thermal sight known as the FTS (Fist Thermal Sight) was developed by Qioptiq as a derivative of its Vipir-2, but with a 640 ? 480-pixel uncooled microbolometer. The FTS is also equipped an Infra Red Laser Aimer (IRLA) for enhanced target identification and with an integrated CQB red dot sight - both supplied by Shield in Britain. The original Shield CQB sight has been modified in order to protect it from sand, dust and adverse weather. A total of 4 1 1 1 FTS will be acquired.
Qioptiq will also upgrade existing Common Weapon Sights (CWS) and the Maxikite 2 to meet the Fist requirements. Some 4176 systems will thus receive the CQB sight for close-range rapid target engagement. The FTS sight will be provided to the fire team commander and the gunner, the marksman will receive the Maxikite 2 plus CQB while the grenadier will have the CWS plus CQB. In other words, half of the team will be equipped with a thermal imaging sight while the remaining half will have an image intensification sight.
All four team members will be equipped with the lightweight day sight, provided by Elcan of Canada, (part of the Raytheon group). The choice went Io the Specter OS4X, which weighs 528 grams, has a battery life of over 300 hours, a x4 magnification with a 6.5° nominal fieldof-view. and a bright red spot with led illumination for close quarter battle, while a ranged reticule allows precise engagements from 400 to 800 metres (the reticule being tweaked for 5.56 mm Nato ammunition). A total of 10.835 such sights will be acquired. The grenadier will also carry the Underslung Grenade Launcher (UGL) sight provided by Istec in Britain, which will be supplemented by the UGL fire control system provided by Vectronix of Switzerland. The selected sight is the Rapid Acquisition Aiming Module (Raam) developed together with Wilcox in the United States, of which 2090 systems will be provided.
Vectronix is also providing the Commander's Target Locator system in the form of its Moskito observation and location unit. The less-than-1.2-kg Moskito packs a x5 day channel, a x3 image intensification night channel, a class 1 laser rangefinder (up to four km) and a GPS receiver with a digital magnetic compass and elevation measurement. Detection, recognition and identification ranges are respectively 2.7 km, 1.7 km and 1.1 km during the day and 1.8 km, 0.6 km and 0.3 km at night. Some 2471 such systems are part of the contract. The team commander will also carry an Olympus ruggedised camera and a hand-held periscope from Uniscope Optical Systems of Israel, which is largely based on the LH-2000M model. A total of 856 will be purchased.
Following the demonstration phase that is now underway, the first deliveries of what is known as Fist Increment IA to equip a brigade are planned for November 2010. with full contract deliveries of the 10,835 systems in 95 company packs due to be completed in June 2014. The first systems are to go to the 3rd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland of 20 Armoured Brigade.
Fist Increment IB will provide the soldier with his own situation display. It will also give commanders the situation of all networked members and allow target hand-off. The equipment will include an improved secure tactical radio with integrated GPS (providing improved tactical communications as well as situation and position reporting) a commander's display unit and a vehicle integration kit. It will also provide the ability to networkCommanders Target Locators. Connectivity to fighting platforms will remain limited. However, this step will provide significantly enhanced local situational awareness and will ensure synchronisation with company assets. Increment 1 B is currently submitted to the approval process at Ministry of Defence level and a contract should be issued by the end of 2010 with full operational capability of Increment 1 expected by 2017.
Increment 2 will begin fielding in late 2015 and should be completed 2020. Again, this will be split into two components: C4I aiming at enhanced connectivity allowing synchronisation with fighting platforms and with battlegroup organic assets, while the fused STA component will enhance capabilities and allow the direct injection of C4I graphics. STA 2 will be aligned with the Soldier System Lethality programme intended to replace the current range of small arms within the rifle platoon.
Increment 3. the final Fist phase, will provide a common upgrade element including C4I and STA capacities with an integrated network, with the individual soldier enjoying a broader situational awareness envelope.
The Fist programme is only one of many that are not simply aimed at improving systems performance or soldier and unit effectiveness, but also at reducing the weight carried by the individual soldier. The current target is to achieve a ten-kilo cut. followed by a further reduction of 20 kilos in the next five years (during the systems integration phase), with a further ten-kilo shed in the fully networked phase from 2021 on.
In October 2009 the Spanish Army announced that the Combatiente Futuro (Comfut) programme had entered its final definition phase, in other words, the last step of the design and development contract that was assigned to EADS in 2006 that included the production of 36 prototypes.
These underwent field trials in 2008 and 2009 at the Infantry Academy based in Toledo and in the nearby Los Alijares training and firing range. The end of the trials gives way to the optimisation phase which should lead to a pre-series production, although no date was announced for this phase which should see the signature of a new contract with EADS Espańa. The latter company is to head a team that includes Amopack. Indra, GMV, Iturri and Fedur. respectively responsible for power generation, oplronics, C4I, clothing. NBC and ballistic protection. The Army did not confirm the original scheduling which called for a first batch of 3000 systems in 2011 and a second batch of 6000 Comfut at a later date.
Not much in terms of news has transpired on the evolution of the Dutch Voss (Verbeterd Operationeel Soldaat Systeem) programme. The Parliament approved the project on 1 October 2008 with a view to seeing the first systems being issued to the forces in 2012. Some 5500 kits should be issued to army mechanised and airmobile infantry units, to navy amphibious forces and to air force security forces.
Five project managers, dedicated to five specific sectors, work under an overall project leader. The five sectors are: smart vest, C4I, energy supply system, load carriage and protection system and integrated head protection. The feasibility study for the smart vest, which will be the core of the system, gave favourable results, as did tests carried out in the past years with the Computer Information Module provided by Thaďes and interfaced with the Selex Communications PRR. The energy supply system is still a touchy issue, various solutions are foreseen, with the Stork ?-lighter diesel generator being one of the possible solutions that are currently under development.
The study of ballistic protections integration in the e-vest is ongoing, as is that of the head protection system, being carried out by TNO. A request for quotation for the smart vesl and one for the head protection were expected in early 2010. Numerous industrial groups are looking forward to the Dutch request for proposals, which should be issued by the end of 2010. although as the Voss approach is quite different from that of most European programmes it will be difficult to provide off-the-shelf solutions.
The Swiss Imess (Integriertes Modulares Einsatzsystem Schweizer Soldat - integrated and modular engagement system for the Swiss soldier) programme began in 2005 and led in November 2007 to a contract with EADS for the prototype phase. This included the supply of 25 systems as well as the integration of lmess equipment into both a Piranha 8x8 and a Duro materiel transport vehicle. The contract also included an option for the maturation phase and for the acquisition of up to 5000 systems.
EADS is teamed with Sagem, meaning that experience from the earlier German IdZ and the French Félin (q.v.) are being combined, with Sagem being mostly involved in the electro-optical sector. Field trials were carried out in September and October 2008. From September to December 2008 further developments were carried out with the Kongsberg SR600 UHF radio in co-operation with armasuisse (the Swiss procurement agency). The preparation for the maturation phase began in November 2008 and established new requirements aimed at improving the system in the areas where the 2008 field trials highlighted some deficiencies.
Test results varied quite extensively according to the area involved. While survivability was rated very good and lethality good, command and control and mobility were the critical topics. The C2 suite was judged, "'not mature at time of field trial", though all the limitations and problems are said to have been ironed out since.
As for mobility, precision and reliability problems surfaced in the navigation system, and the weight was found Io reduce the dismounted infantryman's mobility. The lmess equipment tested in 2(K)8 weighs around 60 kilos: some 17.6 kg for legacy equipment, including uniform, rifle, ammunition, etc. Some obsolete equipment has been replaced, and although more webbing has been added the higher modularity and the integrated assault rifle and helmet allowed a savings of 3.1 kg over 21.7 kg, with improved weight distribution and better ergonomics enhancing soldier comfort.
The C4I suite of the lmess adds 7.7 kg and has to be worn by all the infantry team members, while other loads are taskor mission-specific, among them protection (5.1 kg). Optronics (four kg) and sustainability (3.6 kg. mainly water).
Energy was also an issue: the proposed system used four types of rechargeable batteries: for the system, the video sight, the night vision goggles and the PDA. and four regular types of batteries for the hand grip, the holographic sight, the laser pointer and the digital camera.
Yet another problem arose during the trials, namely integration with existing vehicles: clearly, legacy armoured personnel carriers were not designed for soldiers outfitted with the equipment intended by soldier modernisation programmes, and this led to payload and volume issues. The vehicle being the primary electrical energy provider enabling the soldier to recharge his batteries, legacy vehicles are limited in terms of power supply.
Further integration challenges surfaced, as the Sotas intercom system is analogue but the lmess digital. Moreover, the soldier navigation system must be updated when the infantry team is inside the vehicle in order to allow a smooth mounted-dismounted transition - this needs a fix. like re-radiation of the GPS signal inside the vehicle or an update through the vehicle network.
According to the armasuisse roadmap. the maturation phase should be completed in fall 2011 following a second field trial. In 2012 further systems should be produced for an in-depth test phase running from 2013 to 2014. The lmess system should be declared fit for acquisition in late 2015, with delivery of the first production items taking place in early 2017.
The Norwegian soldier modernisation programme known as Normans (Norwegian Modular Arctic Network Soldier) is moving a further step forward, although the 'Coy Programme' that should have seen the system being put through its paces in a test involving a full company equipped has somewhat slipped by a few months on the calendar. Indeed, the contract negotiation and award to Thaďes Norway was delayed from early to mid2008, meaning that trials had to be postponed from July 2009 to October of that year.
The Normans was provided in two configurations. Soldier and Commander, also known as the Normans Light and Normans Advanced.
The Normans Light features a Thaďes lightweight micro-controller-based C4I unit with a built-in 3D compass and GPS: it shows soldiers positions relative to each other, can be used for navigation, to send predefined messages, send and receive alarm messages and waypoints, create and send target reference points for target hand-off and connect to external sensors. The Harris RF-7800 SPR radio, with the Nacre Quietpro headset, acts as a USB host, and the controller can be powered by its own battery or can draw from the radio. The controller is mounted on a wristband, while the load-carrying vest is equipped with cable guides to prevent free cables irom getting entangled in obstacles, the vest also integrates the radio and hearing protection cables. It also hosts the single battery used to power all the Normans C4I equipment.
The Normans Advanced software runs on a Windows mobile PDA connected to the Harris RF-7800 SPR radio for data communication towards the squad soldiers, but for data communications with the vehicle Battle Management System it is linked to the Kongsberg Handheld MH300 VHF voice-data radio. The two PDAs currently being considered are the Logic Instruments Tetrapad militarygrade PDA and the Trimble Nomad. The PDA with its advanced software allows blue force tracking, to draw, send and receive map overlays, to create, send and receive text messages, alarms and waypoints, to zoom, pan and dim the map to improve .situational awareness and to aggregate symbols in order to avoid clutter on the map. All functions are accessible through the touch screen.
The 2009-2010 timeframe is seeing the materialisation of many of the soldier equipment modernisation programmes launched by Sweden and co-ordinated under the Markus (Markstridsutrustad soldat) project. The last Harris RF-7800S second-generation group radios as well as the latest NVGs were delivered in October 2009. The modified AK5 assault rifles are also under delivery together with their Aimpoint red-dot sights, the Aimpoint BRS fire control system being delivered for the Carl Gustaf shoulder-fired rocket. While final deliveries of the AK5 will take place in 2010, the rifle accessories order will be completed in 2011.
The current year will also see the final delivery of the light machine gun and nonlethál weapons, while by the end of 2010 the new body armour system will start to reach the units. This will provide a higher level of protection that is more accurately focused according to the mission, and will be based on protection modules that can be combined in different ways.
Sweden intends to replace the existing communication system, which is based on the Selex Communications PRR. the Peltor Comlac XP headset and Motorola GP 328/RA 1 183 platoon radio, by late 2010 in order to increase modularity and flexibility.
Finland does not plan to have an operational future soldier ensemble as such before 2020, hence the Warrior 2020 designation. In order to be able to deploy its new system according to schedule, the Finnish Ministry of Defence has already started a long-term study that should lead to a first prototype system around 201314 in order to allow the acquisition process to be launched in 2017.
The actual study started in 2006, following the deployment of the M/2005 material for infantry units. The M/2005 programme included new combat uniforms introducing a digital camouflage pattern together with improvements on the older equipment, such as the adoption of pockets to integrate knee and elbow pads. New load-carrying equipment in the form of a combat vest and rucksack, as well as the RK95TP (Sako m/92) rifle in 7.62 ? 39-mm calibre, equipped with Aimpoint and Trijicon Acog sights, have been acquired in relatively small quantities. They were essentially issued to the Pori Brigade: the unit specialized for international operations.
Phase 1 of the Warrior 2020 programme was aimed at establishing requirements and assessing technologies and feasibility. As a member of the Partnership for Peace framework, Finland is taking part in Nato's Land Capability Group 1. while as a European Defence Agency member state it is involved in the Combat Equipment Dismounted Soldier project. The requirements definition phase was concluded in 2008, but remains open to further inputs. The Warrior 2020 programme benefits from a series of ongoing tests and experiments, such as the study on soldiers in Arctic conditions carried out between 2003 and 2008, the national soldier modernisation study field tests conducted from 2007 to 2009 and other studies on night firing capabilities, protection, fighting in urban terrain and target acquisition.
Some studies, however, were specifically aimed at the Warrior 2020 programme. One of the most important was the Sawi (supporting Situational Awareness in demanding operating environments through Wearable user Interfaces) which aims at establishing the level and type of information needed by the soldier and the squad leader - in other words, to provide them with the required critical information whilst avoiding points that might generate information overload.
Finland adopted a multi-disciplinary approach in this study by involving not only the Finnish National Technology Agency (on behalf of the Finnish Defence Forces), but also Finnish industry - mainly communications and C4I companies such as Savox, Insta Defsec. Nokia. Suunto - and the Finnish research and academic world, with entities such as the Technical Research Centre of Finland, the Helsinki School of Economics/Centre for Knowledge and Innovation Research, the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and the Department of Psychology of the Helsinki University. The Sawi project is based on five working packages:
* WP 1 encompassing work domain analysis, task analysis and user requirements
* WP 2 considering multi-sensory presentation of information, multi-modal user interfaces and their ergonomics
* WP 3 examining psycho-physiological stresses and human capability to utilise multi-modal information
* WP 4 looking at situational awareness user interfaces and finalising the development of demonstrators
* WP 5 evaluating the demonstrators with usability and field tests. This will lead to the final report by June 2010.
According to the first impressions collected since June 2008 when the Sawi project was initiated, the Finnish tests showed that improving soldiers situational awareness, decision-making ability, performance efficiency and accuracy is not an easy task without overloading his cognition capacities. Moreover, small wearable displays have shown some limitations in terms of short viewing distances, detrimental interaction between the perception of displayed and external information and light adaptation in dazzling sunlight, low ambient light and changing light conditions. Iltis was also underlined by the fact that soldiers preferred tactile user interfaces.
A Technology Program 2010 is also being launched, which will last three years and will focus on three main areas: situational awareness, survivability and force protection and Warrior 2020. The latter area will be subdivided in four main areas: system integration and new energy sources, situational awareness and C4Í, integrated sight and target acquisition system and communications for territorial troops by using cots components.
Not to be overlooked is the fact that the 350.000-strong Finnish Army structure is mostly based on a reserve system and that the number one priority remains homeland defence - peacetime units being mostly training centres. All investments must thus be made within this context, with a focus on the acquisition of cost-effective solutions for the territorial soldier. The presence of Finland in the various multinational panels involved in future soldier studies clearly reveals an intention to avoid a purely national solution. Sharing the programme or part of it with international partners is certainly among the intentions of the Finnish Ministry of Defence.
Although the Advanced Individual Combat System Tytan. known in Polish as ISW Tytan (Indywidualny System Walki Tztan). remains in the 14 top-priority programmes announced in October 2009 by the Ministry of Defence, its in-service date is still unknown following the adoption of a plan for the reorganisation of the Army structure at the lower levels. To this have to be added the numerous lessons learned downrange which would lead to a thorough review of all the work carried out thus far.
This is. in turn, leading to a two-step approach similar to that adopted years ago by Germany, whose IdZ (q.v) was mostly based on existing items, with a system evolution pattern planned for the coming years. Thus a mini-Tytan is being fielded, which includes the assault rifle and carbine produced by Fabryka Broni "Luc/.nic". the wz.96 Beryl and miniBeryl, both in 5.56 mm Nato calibre and equipped with L-3 Eotech HWS 552.A65/1 holographic sights that can be coupled to an image intensifier, the Bumar UKM-2000 machine gun. in 7.62 mm Nato calibre and the MU-3 night vision goggles produced by PCO (Przemyslowe Centrum Optyki) in Warsaw and initially developed for special forces.
A new combat uniform is also being issued. Command, control and navigation capabilities will be addressed with the issue of GPS and personal radios to every soldier. The nationally produced Radmor 35010 personal role radio, operating in the 2.4 GHz band with 16 channels and a weight of 270 grams without batteries was chosen for this urgent operational requirement programme.
As for the Tytan programme per se. Poland aims at an open architecture system with spiralling capabilities and will incorporate the results of the studies carried out in four main areas, namely lethality, survivability, sustainability and C4I. and will include some basic elements (weapons, uniforms, protection systems, recognition and observation devices and C4I). supplementing elements (medical, NBC and survival packages) as well as add-on packages for special climates, tasks and conditions (highly intensive activities, high temperature, low temperature, very low temperature, weather falls, engineering, food, climbing, urban warfare and training).
Poland seeks close co-operation with industry and military institutions. In 2008 Radwar. part of the Bumar Group, teamed up with Sagem of France and proposed a future soldier system based on Sagem 's experience with the French Félin (q.v.). However, the Bumar group recently set up a consortium made of most of its related companies with a view to providing an all-national solution for the Tytan programme. Among those companies is Fabryka Broni "Lucznic". which last December showed the technological demonstrator of its new family of small arms known as MSPS 5.56. This modular family of weapons was developed by the Faculty of Special Construction at the Military University of Technology in Warsaw, and the research was financed by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education to the tune of euro 1.5 million. The family will use 5.56 mm Nato ammunition and its modularity will use core building blocks Io produce numerous versions such as standard and short-barrel assault rifles, a light machine gun. sniper rifle and even a bullpup assault rifle. The MSM 5.56 makes extensive use of composite materials and. according to the developing teams, features improved ergonomics compared to the Beryl family. Prototypes are being produced for field testing, mass production being forecast for late 2012.
The other companies forming the consortium are PCO (Optronics). PSO Maskpol (protection equipment), CNPEP Radwar (C4I), OBRSM Tarnow (Bor 7.62 ? 51 mm sniper rifle) and ZN Tarnow (WKW 12.7 ? 99 mm sniper rifle).
Romania started its modernisation programme from the communications end. acquiring a series of Harris radios to equip battalion level units. Currently three battalions (two mountain infantry and one infantry) have been equipped, although a higher-level command post is now also receiving the radios.
At section level Romanian infantrymen are equipped with the RF-780ÖS secure personal radio, operating in the 350 to 450 MHz band, which provides 14 different talk-groups and can operate full-duplex with up to six simultaneous talkers. This two- Watt radio (output can be selected also at one or one-quarter Watt) has a built-in GPS with automaticposition reporting. Open terrain its range is of two to three km. dropping to 800 metres in an urban environment. The RF7800S links up the team individuals, and them with the vehicle, which has onboard an RF-7800M multi-band networking radio that operates in VHF/UHF bands, from 30 MHz to 2 GHz. The radio provides a high capacity datalink in UHF and longer-range voice, situational awareness and datalinks in VHF. It can also be used as a manpack unit, whenever the platoon commander operates dismounted.
Also found onboard vehicles is the RF5800V. for VHF voice and data communication, while only company commander vehicles are equipped with the RF-5800H HF/VHF radio for long-range comms. These radios should become the network that will support the Romanian Individual Fighting System (Rifs) and will therefore have to be integrated with the command and control subsystem, the computer of which will be based on a Transmeta Crusoe 1 GHz processor running on Windows XP Pro and will provide the typical services required by the soldier such as positioning, navigation, map display, tactical display and messaging.
What will also certainly be part of the Rifs is a new individual weapon in Nato calibre, which will nevertheless retain AK looks. The assault rifles currently being considered are Rom Arm Model 2(KX) (the empty 3.6-kg magazine weight remains within the 3.7-kg limit imposed by the requirement) and a further modernised version of the AK- 108 manufactured by Izhmash in Russia.
A thermal sight, weight-limited at 1.5 kg, will also be acquired to allow soldiers to detect targets at night at ranges of 750 metres, recognise them at 250 and identify them at 100.
New body armour with improved load distribution and a combat uniform with a new camouflage are also being studied.
What remains to be seen is whether the Rifs will limit itself to the described items, or encompass other capabilities such as integrated helmet subsystem and 'roundthe-corner shooting: this would require the adoption of an 802.1 1 (2.4 GHz Wifi) internal communication system to avoid too much cabling. Such a decision might be taken not only based upon cost and technical considerations, but also on the average type of soldier, as many of them still originate from rural Romania.
The first prototype subsystems will be available in 2010. but a number of items will have to be commercial off-the-shelf because test and evaluation of the Rifs are expected to be completed in 2013. followed by a short risk-reduction phase leading to the acquisition of the first 500 kits by the end of 2013. Initially aimed at the troops operating downrange and at special forces, the Rifs is intended to eventually become the standard equipment of the Romanian soldier.
The infantryman is not the only US Army's point of attention in terms of individual equipment upgrades. Indeed. Army Aviation personnel are also being issued with an ensemble known as the Air Warrior, which has now reached the Increment III level. The Block I Air Warrior includes the 1.36-kg AIHS (Aircrew Integrated Helmet System) HGU-56/P with laser eye protection and a maxillofacial shield for better face protection against fragmentation, the helmet being obviously fully interfaced with night vision goggles and compatible with the M45/M48 NBC protective masks, both equipped with blowers to reduce breathing fatigue. Also part of the Block I is the Survival Equipment Subsystem which included the fire resistant aircrew combat uniform, the primary survival gear carrier, the survival gear, the flexible body armour with ballistic upgrade plates, the current M9 pistol with holster, the PRC-90 or PRC-1 12 or the Csel (Combat Survivor/Evader Locator) survival radios and the Aircrew Survival Egress Knife.
The survival equipment was complemented by the Over Water Mission Equipment which includes an anti-exposure suit, a low-profile flotation collar, a survival egress air system and an overwater gear carrier with integrated raft and canopy. The Block I's last element is the Microclimate Cooling System: made of a garment which is worn under the uniform and a cooling unit that is plugged into the helicopter power system, and increases effective mission duration in heat stressing environment by 350%.
Increment III adds communication earplugs in addition to their primary ear protection function, an Aircraft Wireless Intercom (for CH-47 Chinook and HH/UH-60 Biackhawk crews only), a Phods (Portable Helicopter Oxygen Delivery System) for over 10.(KX) feet flights and more importantly the Electronic Data Manager. This provides enhanced situational awareness as it can be linked to the Blue Force Tracking (Aviation) system, but can also be used as an interface with aviation mission planning systems, checklists and manuals, and doubles as a moving map display. Over 1 3.(KK) Air Warrior ensembles were fielded by FYlO and the Air Warrior programme should be completed by 201 1.
The effort towards an improvement in the Army Aviation equipment is however not concluded, as a further programme, known as the Air Soldier, is currently in the technological development phase, with production and fielding slated for FY12.The new system will aim at increasing system integration and performance while decreasing its weight and volume. Other elements will be added such as head-up displays, three-dimensional cueing, combat identification, physiological monitoring, thermal regulation and waste elimination.
The other ongoing programme is the Mounted Soldier Ensemble, which will provide combat vehicle crews with a head-up display, cordless communications, a cooling system and protection. The overall contract was assigned to General Dynamics, which will act as system integrator since the vehicles involved are the M1-A2 Sep V2 Abrams. the M2-A3 Bradleys. the M3-A3 Bradleys and the Medical Evacuation variants of the Ml 13. The contract for the Mounted Soldier Display System was assigned in late May 2009 to Rockwell Collins, the company currently working on the engineering and manufacturing development phase. This includes the Rockwell Collins S035-A full-colour resolution micro display and a video distribution switch to select the image source. Crewmembers will thus be able to receive imagery from either the Driver View Enhanced, the FBCB2 command and control system or the remote weapon station. The Mounted Soldier Cordless Communications System contract was assigned to Thaies in IuIy 2009. The system will allow the crew to communicate either mounted or dismounted, thanks to a Thaďes Type 1 secure cordless system, extending the use of the intercom and of embedded combat radios when dismounted and thus no longer physically linked to the vehicle. The cooling vest and a series of improved protection systems, including new flame-resistant undergarments, an improved combat vehicle crewman coverall and ballistic protection, are also part of the kit.
The Mounted Soldier System will initially be fielded with Heavy Brigade Combat Teams: systems for four HBCTs have already been funded, while none has yet been funded for the Stryker BCTs, although the Mounted Warrior kit, the predecessor of the Mounted Soldier, was assessed by a Stryker unit (4/9th Infantry, 4 SBCT. 2nd ID). Development and limited user testing is scheduled for late 2010 or early 2011, while full-rate production should begin in the second half of 2012.
Finally turning to the infantryman: following the Land Warrior test carried out by the 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment. 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team in Iraq, the whole 5/2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team is being equipped with the Land Warrior Strike, a revised version which was made lighter (about 3.7 kg versus the 4.5 kg of the original Land Warrior), less cumbersome and more userfriendly. The 5/2 SBCT should also receive some add-ons, mostly sensors. Among these is the BBN Technologies Boomerang Wearable Shooter Detection System, which is now in full production. Its sensors are inserted in two shoulder pads and detect incoming supersonic rounds and. while a wrist-worn display provides the range, azimuth and elevation of the enemy shooter, a headset announces the information in aural format such as «shot, three o'clock, high».
The Land Warrior Strike is able to receive the feeds from Aerovironment Raven drones as well as from robots. Two more sensors can also be used, both developed by Octatron;one is the Dragon Egg. a rugged wireless camera system which can be thrown into a building or over a wall and the signals of which can be received at a range of 300 metres: the other is the Polecam, again a wireless camera, but this time adding an infrared illuminator mounted on top of a telescopic pole (two lengths available).
While the first Land Warrior Strike systems were being delivered to the 5/2 SBCT in May 2009, mid-April saw the Ground Soldier System Increment 1 (GSS, formerly Ground Soldier Ensemble or GSE) being launched. Three companies. Raytheon. General Dynamics C4 Systems and Rockwell Collins, were selected for the 21 -month development phase. The first major difference is that the GSS will not be provided to the single warfighter but will be deployed only from team leader level up. This because the Land Warrior Gap Mitigation assessment showed that the system had a very limited positive impact on the basic soldier capabilities and that on the contrary, its increased weight reduced the soldier's ability to move under direct fire.
In the so-called Team Spartan'. Rockwell Collins has teamed up with Elbit Systems of America, the US branch of the Israeli company. Rockwell will leverage its experience and will provide among other components its S035-A helmet mounted display, while Elbit will provide the rugged computer and will use experience garnered during the development of Israel Defense Force Dominator programme.
A six-month honing phase will lead to limited user trials, the selection of the proposal being awaited for late 2010 with an initial operational capability in mid-2012, which will mark the launch of the full scale production of 1 1 ,538 systems.
«Ounces equal pounds and pounds equal pain,» this is the US Marines creed guiding the efforts of the programme manager for the Marine Expeditionary Rifle Squad (Mers) - a project that significantly differs from the various versions of America's modern soldier programmes.
The Mers programme's aim is to investigate the integration of various equipment, but without looking into futuristic solutions. To do so the US Marine Corps is trying to establish some metrics in order to understand and evaluate physiological and effectiveness parameters. To carry out this programme the corps set up the Gruntworks in 2007 - a state-of-the-art Squad Integration facility at Stafford. Virginia, operated by PM Mers and supported by Raytheon and its team partners. At nearly 1000 m:. Gruntworks provides the facility, equipment and data collection tools to conduct human factor assessments, training, mobility platform integration, modelling and simulation, virtual reality simulation, equipment prototyping and equipment modifications. Trials and testing can be done with personnel from the nearby Marine Corps Base Quantico using the local training areas and live-fire ranges to evaluate the squad equipment suite. The Gruntworks supports the science and technology community by allowing prototype equipment to be integrated and trialled early in the development process and provide an integrated transition path to a programme-ofrecord while maturing the technology.
Programme managers developing mobility platforms now have a resource of squad equipment to build the vehicle or aircraft around the marine squad and their equipment.'! he facility has several distinct areas, the main one being the human factors lab with all the squad equipment available: anthropometric, anatomical and specialised mannequins provide personnel with the ability to conduct human factor assessments without the presence of any marines. The secure modelling and simulation area, the C4I integration room, the mobility platform integration room and the virtual reality room are the other key elements of the Gruntworks. which verify the compatibility between the squad equipment and other systems such as vehicles and helicopters, when new systems are being adopted.
In 2008 the Mers programme determined how 'hot' marines on combat patrols got on with all their equipment in the Iraqi summer. The Hidalgo Physiological Status monitor and core temperature pill (in fact an ingestible sensor) were used to collect data, the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine providing the technical expertise, hardware/software, training, trial protocol and institutional review board.
Two units were involved, the 1/9 Marines and 3/4 Marines with a regimental combat team each. Some marines showed levels of heat exhaustion during patrols, with skin temperature and then core temperature reducing following a five- to ten-minute rest, body armour removed. Plans are in hand to conduct another thermal load data collection tour in 2010 with improved Hidalgo pills to gather actual individual temperature conditions and metabolic work rates during their deployment in the marine's actual loads. The aim is also to work out a Physiological Status Monitoring system integrated and simplified that would allow a squad leader to know when his marines are reaching heat exhaustion.
In the mean time, methods to reduce the weight loads carried by marines in a variety of areas continue to be explored. During infantry battalion exercises and post deployment survey, methods are explored to discover how mortars. machine-guns and anti armour weapons could be carried in a more ergonomie position, with load carriage systems specifically tailored to each weapon. While this will not reduce the actual load weight, the perceived weight will be less and the marine will be more 'humanenergy efficient'.
A Design Light Workshop was conducted in November 2009. This effort focused on putting every item a squad carries and could carry in all environmental conditions into one large area at the Gruntworks Squad Integration facility. Twenty-five material scientists, manufacturing engineers, system engineers and other specialty personnel gathered for one week looking at every item and the items in system configurations in order to provide recommendations for weight reduction and improvements to be brought to each item. The resulting recommendations can be used for design changes by the procuring program manager or for improvements in requirements and performance specifications. Following a data analysis phase, final recommendations of the Design Light Project were expected in February 2010.
Moreover, the Marine Corps Load Effects Assessment Program (MC-Leap) was delivered in December 2009. This portable tool will be used to establish metrics for mobility for different equipment and configurations of equipment. It consists of a variety of obstacles that marines have said from operational experience arc the physically demanding tasks they have to execute. It includes shooting accuracy and engagements, automated data collection and captures metabolic work rates. Determining a metric for mobility has been a historical problem and the marines think they may have a solution. Programme Manager Mers is currently validating the protocol and will start running marines through the system in the March 2010 timeframe.
A variety of improvements in infantry equipment will soon lead to weight reductions and increased ergonomics The Infantry Automatic RiIIe will reduce the weight of the heaviest weapon, the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, in the infantry rifle squad. The Improved Modular Taclical Vest and Plate Carrier offers scalable armour solutions with enhancements in a variety of features in the systems. The programme continues to utilise the Gruntworks Squad Integration facility in order to support all the programme managers within Marine Corps Systems Command that procure equipment for the Marine Rifle Squad.
Soldier System 2020
Canadian Armed Forces are expected to make a great step forward by moving from the current "Clothe the Soldier' programme to the 'Soldier System 2020' venture. Four programmes will have to be finalised to reach the final status, among which arc the Future Combat Uniform. the Sniper System, the Small Arms Replacement Program Il (which, as sample platforms for technology integration and evaluation is currently considering two assault rifles, namely the FN Herstal Scar and the Beretta A RX 160 as well as two personal defence weapons, the FNH P90 and the Heckler & Koch MP7). and obviously the Integrated Soldier Systems Project or ISSP. the Cycle 1 equipment initial operating capability" of which is scheduled for 2012-13.
The ISSP programme received governmental funding approval in the summer of 2008. Since then the programme office has been busy setting up the project team and preparing the Statement of Operational Requirement and the Request for Proposals. The current plan is to release the latter in early- to mid-2010. The system architecture will be similar to that of many other soldier modernisation programmes.
Built around a wearable computer the system, it will include a voice/data radio, blue force identification, navigation aids, personal digital assistant, helmet-mounted display, weapon sights with electronic connectivity and ballistic and CBRN protection. EADS. Thaďes Canada (both based in Ottawa) and Rheinmetall Canada of Saint-Iean-sur-Richelieu are all interested in bidding, as their respective groups are involved in similar programmes. General Dynamics Canada might also take part in the bid. as well as Sagem and Raytheon.
The overall programme, which is being subdivided into three cycles, each with a definition and an implementation phase covering the 201 1 to 2018 period, is worth 310 million Canadian dollars. Cycle 1 was forecast for the 2009-14 period, but may slip slightly to the right, pushing the same way Cycle 2 (2011-16) and Cycle 3 (201318), each cycle providing incremental improvements with the fielding of only available technology. Each cycle will have a definition phase of about three years and a 2.5-year implementation phase, and will provide equipment for six task forces, two in operational deployment, two in pre-rotational certification and two in training - the aim being to provide the individual soldier with an integrated system that will replace the various pieces of equipment carried today.
The Singaporean Army should have begun fielding its Advanced Combat Man System (ACMS) early this year following the completion of its field trials and the signature of a production contract with Singapore Technologies Electronics in June 2009.
Built around a soldier computer subsystem, which provides integration with all other subsystems as well as C4I processing and analysis, blue force tracking, red force marking and call for fire, it includes an organic light-emitting diode head-mounted display, active noise reduction earplugs, a GPS/dead reckoning navigation subsystem, a Selex Galileo soldier personal radio capable of voice and data communications and a wireless network for high data-rate comms, a weapon subsystem including a holographic sight, a sensor for Tound-thecorner viewing and a laser aiming device. with a push button interface integrated into the modified Sar 21 assault rifle, and finally the power subsystem.
The contract is worth some euro 50 million and should be sufficient to equip some frontline battalions, their number being still undisclosed. While fielding the ACMS - a process expected to be completed by 2012 - the Singaporean Army is already looking at the future, with a spiralling process that will in due time affect most of the subsystems. In September 2009 the Singaporean Army received its first Terrex 8x8 wheeled infantry combat vehicles, which are designed to be networked with the ACMS.