EUROPEAN SOLDIER MODERIZATION PROGRAMMES
By Adam Baddeley, Deputy Editor, BATTLESPACE
Europe’s Soldier Modernisation programmes are progressing apace. National programmes have their own impetus but key technology alternatives are being developed by the sector. While these are certainly aimed at supplying these efforts, they are not exclusively so. A number of companies are developing components, sub-systems and near complete suites to provide off the shelf alternatives in the case of programmatic hiccups.
Selex Communications are currently offering a range of capabilities, which have been launched very recently. Following on from their successful trials of the 856-900MHz Soldier System Radio (SRR)/H4870 in the FIST V2 trials in November last year, the company have added further capability releases. These include giving every SRR an automatic rebroadcast capability and giving the PRR the adhoc networking ‘tick in the box’ now deemed necessary. MTBF for the radio is given as 27,000 hours, a weight of 190g, volume of 280 cubic centimetres and a range of 1.3Km – three times that of the original PRR – in a network of up to 32 users.
Further products offer the opportunity to address immediate shortcomings in current infantry capabilities in what the company are calling ‘Seeing, Hearing, Surviving’.
The Selex Situational Awareness Tool (SAT) provides the ‘Seeing’- a basic dismounted C2 picture at the squad and section level, which is built up to provide an overall platoon picture. The picture is built up from individual infantrymen, equipped with a GPS device or inertial navigation system and a status entry device. Information is collected automatically and stored. The information is then sent up the command chain when prompted by a designated leader radio within the network. This is held by the section commander who is equipped with ruggedised PDA through which the graphical situational awareness picture is shown. The information and other inputs can then be sent further up the command chain to platoon and company commanders either via a PRR network or CNRs.
Selex has developed Force Protection – a manpack RF based IED inhibitor issued to each section to deliver the ‘Surviving’ part. The system weighs 2.5kg and the battery a further 2.2Kg to give the system the required range.
‘Hearing’ is the responsibility of the WACH-900 Tactical Infantry Headset (pronounced watch). The headset is designed to offer a common solution for mechanised infantry and vehicle crews in medium weight vehicles, providing Automatic Noise Reduction (ANR) in a two AA battery powered eight-hour solution. This is offered together with hearing protection compatible with PASGT, MICH and AVH helmets. A key partner for the WACH900, which Selex only mentions sotto voce, is Sennheiser Government Systems.
With a C2 package, comms, ancillaries and a manportable force protection package, the Selex SMP suite provides a base architecture that is affordable, simple and quickly implemented – indeed it makes use of PRRs already in service with many countries. It quite deliberately does not address lethality, night vision or ISR, issues on which many SMP customers have already made their decisions, but offers no obstacles to their integration.
Looking closer to home, one could almost say that Selex were positioning themselves to provide an immediate back-up solution should FIST in its current form fail or be delayed. Irrespective of that result the large footprint of over 200,000 PRR now in service around the world gives it a ready market for appliqué products.
Sennheiser Lightweight Communications SLC110 In-Ear headset and hearing protection is provided in a 30g package and is the current IdZ headset, with approximately 2400 already delivered. For its next generation of headsets, Sennhesier is teaming with US firm AuSIM Inc for its Digital Soldier Audio System, now in development. This uses the AuSIM 3DVXW acoustic processing engine. Using