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By Scott R. Gourley

Unlike some more traditional defense hardware acquisition activities which are managed and directed toward formal “capability milestones” – such as First Unit Equipped (FUE), Initial Operational Capability (IOC), etc. – the U.S. Army Land Warrior (LW) effort is moving forward on a myriad parallel fielding timelines.

As described by program planners, LW is a first generation, modular, integrated fighting system for infantry Soldiers and Soldiers in support of the close fight. LW combines an assortment of up to date commercial off the shelf and government technologies with newly developed components and technologies to create a lethal, survivable Soldier system linked into the digitized battlefield.

Program On Schedule

In early February 2003, the U.S. Army selected General Dynamics Decision Systems (a business unit of General Dynamics) as the prime contractor to enhance what had been developed to date as an early version of the LW system.

In addition to General Dynamics Decision Systems as team leader, initial industry LW team members included General Dynamics Land Systems (Sterling Heights, Mich.), co-developer of the Stryker and FCS family of combat vehicles; General Dynamics C4 Systems, Taunton, Mass.; Computer Sciences Corporation, Falls Church, Va.; Kaiser Electro-Optics, Inc., Carlsbad, Calif.; Omega Training Group, Columbus, Ga.; PEMSTAR, San Jose, Calif. and PEMSTAR Pacific Consultants, Mountain View, Calif.; and Thales Communications, Inc., Clarksburg, Md.

General Dynamics literature describes LW as “a high tech ‘system of systems’ designed to provide every soldier with overmatch capabilities. This integrated, soldier-fighting system dramatically increases the combat soldier’s lethality, battle command compatibility, survivability, mobility, awareness, sustainability and combat effectiveness.”

However, at the same time that LW planners are tasked to develop that integrated high tech system of systems, they are also working closely with future development activities like Objective Force Warrior (OFW) to insure a seamless transition between near term, mid term, and far term warfighting capabilities.

But even more importantly, the same planners are also focusing their attention on identifying critical available subsystems and technologies that can be spun off and fielded to today’s warfighter. In many instances these subsystems have already been combat proven in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In light of these challenges, along with several recent program milestones and fielding accomplishments, BATTLESPACE recently discussed program status with representatives from the office of Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier.

“The [Land Warrior] program itself is on schedule, within cost, and is addressing the technical reliability challenges that we ran into that caused me to halt the program [approximately one year ago],” explained Colonel Ted Johnson, Project Manager, Soldier Warrior Programs. “With the new prime system contractor – General Dynamics – we have a new soldier architecture that we are actually in detailed design of right now. And we go to Critical Design Review (CDR) – the final design before we put prototypes together for formal testing – in May [2004]. We are on schedule to do that.”

Investigating Combat Identification

In its approach to the May 2004 CDR, the fall of 2003 saw the Land Warrior program investigating laser RF battlefield combat identification (combat ID) technology. The laser RF technology was taken from the stand alone Individual Combat Identification System (ICIDS) program, which had been terminated by the Army leadership in 2002.

Under a demonstration exercise called the Coalition Combat Identification Advanced Concepts Technology Demonstration – Dismounted Soldier ID, LW program representatives demonstrated the integration of the ICIDS laser RF combat ID technology into early prototype LW ensembles. The exerc

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