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By Julian Nettlefold

25 Feb 12. BATTLESPACE met up with Bill Guyan, VP Strategy at DRS Tactical Systems Division at AUSA to discuss the new ScorpionTM family of rugged handheld computers.

“What gave DRS the impetus to develop ScorpionTM?” The Editor asked.

“DRS Tactical Systems, Inc. developed the ScorpionTM handheld computers for dismounted command and control and improved situational awareness for US Soldiers and Marines. The product, which is a result of a Broad Agency Announcement contract for the Joint Battle Command-Platform Handheld System, is a commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) handheld computer running the Android operating system and interfaces with tactical radios for the exchange of information on the battlefield. WE will be bidding ScorpionTM into the new requirement for 3000 handheld computers.”

Features of the ScorpionTM handhelds include a dual core processor for faster application performance, a high resolution 4 inch multi-touch display which allows users to easily pan and zoom without the use of a function key, and an 8 megapixel camera and FlexChargeTM which provides the user the ability to charge the device while interacting with tactical radios.

“Has the creation of the NIE (Network Integration Exercise) given contactors the impetus to develop new products in reaction to NIE requirements?”

“Yes, one of the first Requirements coming out of the NIEs was the requirement for lighter, cheaper and more capable systems, particularly in the area of hand held computers and smartphones. Contractors have to be nimble and provide systems that work for NIE. For instance if a system is required for an NIE, routinely we have 30 days to provide a systems after selection, two days to give a presentation and seven days to provide a workable system that doesn’t break!”

“Has the NIE system been the catalyst for Scorpion TM?”

“In part, although we saw the need for smartphone capabilities before this and created the ScorpionTM H1 and H2 in response to our customers’ requests to bring commercial smartphone capabilities to the hands of the dismounted Soldier and Marine. These products are a result of optimizing size, weight, and power as well as bringing the latest Android operating system capabilities to the user. Better use of COTS systems such a commercial GPS will keep the warfighter on the edge of technology, we are now ready to supply fewer systems per contract but be able to upgrade the same product when a new requirement arises as happens in the civil sector. DRS is in a key position given the strength of our product sector, we have already supplied 175,000 computer systems to the US and other armies, many of them have given 10 years service in vehicles. The British Army has 13,000 of our original Scorpion products in its BOWMAN system, Networking is the number one priority for our customers. The NIE is a key part of the procurement system, NIE 12.1 and 12.2 will identify systems that the Army requires for 2013 and ‘14 whilst NIE 13.1 will give the Capability Sets for 2015 and 16.”

“Has the current squeeze on the Defense Budget caused you to change the way DRS Tactical Systems works?”

“Everyone in the industry is looking at ways to change to meet the demands of our customer who has himself been squeezed. To that end we are developing the ability to supply complete systems that include ours and other contractors’ equipment. A good example is the Command Post system we are showing here at AUSA which we developed for the NIE based on a BAE Systems Caiman vehicle and advanced systems covering every aspect of the Command Post requirement. We had to equip 60 vehicles and two full Command Posts in those30 days, some feat! At the heart of this system is our new tactical switch which networks these systems. This has already been deployed in theatre and we see it as key product for the future.”

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