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By Julian Nettlefold

The Cobham Group’s products and services have been at the heart of sophisticated military and civil systems for more than 70 years, keeping people safe, improving communications and enhancing the capability of land, sea, air and space platform. Well recognised for its contribution to the aerospace marketplace in terms of in-flight refuelling technology and flight training, Cobham’s land sector capabilities are less well known, despite the fact that almost 25% of group revenues in 2007 were derived from the land sector. Over recent years, Cobham Defence Communications Ltd has been contributing to the emerging dismounted soldier systems market.

Since their success in the UK FIST COEIA trials in autumn 2007 Cobham Defence Communications Ltd (CDC) have continued to develop their C4I product range for the dismounted soldier. The latest version of the company’s IDSS (Integrated Digital Soldier System) has recently been fielded for trials as part of the current FIST D&M phase competition.

CDC believes it offers a unique approach by developing the key hardware and software elements of the IDSS in house. This brings advantages in terms of shorter overall development lead times, simplifying systems integration issues, and ultimately a system that operates reliably and seamlessly throughout the tactical C4I spectrum.

The fact that the IDSS is both battery and radio agnostic, also offers customers and users the opportunity to deploy the system with existing legacy equipment, or to select new equipment based on best value or on performance criteria.

The latest IDSS is smaller, lighter and more energy efficient than the solution deployed by CDC for the 2007 trials. Core processors and other key functions have been upgraded to ensure a current state of the art offering from CDC, and the company’s own Situational Awareness application, Battlehawk, now runs on Windows XP. The open architecture approach greatly simplifies the process of technology insertion throughout the product life cycle, and also allows the user to use the IDSS data terminals for other field IT applications. To date the SDT (Soldier Data Terminal) has been used to download and display video from mini-UAV platforms, and to control remote sensor systems.

Asked about Cobham’s track record in land platform systems, Steve Northam – Strategic Sales and Marketing Director said, “Our ROVIS system (originally an acronym of Royal Ordnance Vehicle Intercom System, which gives some insight as to the pedigree of the company’s technology), has over the past decade become the foremost intercom system used by western defence forces, due to the adoption of the system by the US Army as their standard intercom.”

In the US, the CDC supplies its Intercom System, known there as AN/VIC-3, through its partner, Northrop Grumman Corporation as the prime supplier, although the intercom technology is developed and owned by Cobham. Northam added, “Our considerable experience in land C3 systems allows us to integrate our Vehicle Intercom and IDSS dismounted technologies. As a result, the company is now in the ideal position to be able to offer cost-effective Soldier Modernisation solutions.”

Explaining the benefits of this approach, Northam continued, “Having full control over the design of the system from start to finish, including hardware and software, has not only allowed us to respond quickly when the need arises, but has allowed us to be very creative in areas such as active power management. As we have taken a modular approach to the development of the IDSS, with hardware and functionality matched to the needs and abilities of certain user groups, we have maintained a common software core across the suite of hardware devices, thus avoiding the problems of interfacing equipment from several different suppliers. Our preferred approach is an end-to-end complete solution, but we are equally prepared to provide el

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