NETWORKED VEHICLE PRODUCTION IN FULL SWING AT US ARMY DETROIT ARSENAL
By Katie Cain, System of Systems Integration Directorate
02 Aug 12. Beginning in October, the U.S. Army will begin fielding the first integrated group of networked technologies — radios, sensors and associated equipment and software — that will for the first time deliver an integrated voice and data capability throughout the entire Brigade Combat Team, or BCT, formation, from the brigade commander to the dismounted Soldier.
This networked package, known as Capability Set 13, or CS 13, is the Army’s tactical network baseline designed to extend the network down to the individual Soldier and significantly enhance Mission Command on the Move and Soldier connectivity.
The connectivity, architecture and components of CS 13 were validated at the service’s most recent Network Integration Evaluation, NIE 12.2, conducted May-June at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., but the ongoing integration and planning work began months before.
A large part of the planning involves bringing together the Army’s Program Executive Offices, PEOs, and Program Managers, known as PMs, during the NIE/Agile Process using the Capability Set Integrated Master Schedule, or IMS, for integration, production and deployment. The IMS is the backbone of CS 13 as it serves to synchronize the network and vehicle PMs’ master schedules as they relate to integrating and fielding capability sets.
The Army’s Capability Set fielding plan supports a synchronized vehicle and network fielding strategy, prioritizes capabilities for our deployed forces and improves alignment of limited resources.
In May, the Army completed the mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle, or MRAP, final design review, which solidified how CS 13 assets will be integrated into that vehicle platform. MRAPs will be utilized in the first Infantry Brigade Combat Team, or BCT, formations that will be equipped with CS 13. The NIE has been vital to validating MRAP network design and architecture.
Currently, the first five “super configuration” MRAP prototype vehicles are being built at the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, located in Warren, Mich. The five MRAP super configurations include Soldier Network Extension (SNE), Point of Presence Vehicular Wireless Package, MaxxPro and MRAP-Lites.
“This project is considered a level one because it’s so large,” said Marc
Mroczka, project engineer for the Center for Ground Vehicle Development and Integration at TARDEC. “There are five trucks, a lot of electronics equipment, a lot of design and a lot of integration.”
Mroczka leads the CS 13 performance efforts, which include running technical meetings, following the integration activities that take place on a day-to-day basis, and bringing together the different facets within engineering groups at TARDEC, as well as the overall design.
Each BCT has 373 vehicles, and under the current construct, there are 42
combinations under the five super configurations, which allows the Army to build any combination within each configuration without altering the vehicle.
“This allows you to change what you put in a vehicle while protecting the
vehicle space,” said Mroczka. “For example, if you needed to swap out a radio for a different one, it can easily be done.”
This was one of the things we learned during NIE, Mroczka explained. There is some overlap in the individual systems but it wasn’t necessary to put every CS 13 systems on every vehicle in the NIE. The main thing we had to do was figure out how to pull all those systems together afterward. That’s how we designed the super configurations, he said.
Soldier feedback out of the NIE process has been invaluable as it has led to many significant design and user interface improvements that are currently being incorporated into the final MRAP configurations.
“One of the things we learned during the IOT&E was that bo