SIXTH WBR SOLDIER TECHNOLOGY CONFERENCE
By Adam Baddeley Deputy Editor BATTLESPACE
26 Jun 06. Comment: BATTLESPACE Deputy Editor Adam Baddeley reports from the WBR Soldier Systems Conference. This was a very opportune time to report on soldier systems developments at a time when Soldier Systems requirements such as FIST in the U.K. and Land Warrior in the U.S. appear to be faltering. The perception of the FIST requirement in particular is that Thales may have bitten off more than it can chew in designing a totally new system when existing systems such as an enhanced PRR from Selex with data applications and GPS are available off the shelf. ITT also has advanced NVG systems that can be supplied along with advanced soldier radios. Sources suggest that FIST will not reach Main Gate by November under the current Thales/MoD DPA Team structure and that the requirement may be procured incrementally. Technologically soldier technology is not seen as having reached the required maturity to alleviate the requirement to carry a number of ‘boxes’ and batteries. Certainly the Selex PRR developments shown to BATTLESPACE at DVD 2006 seem to be solving part of the requirement using In Service equipment albeit it on an enhanced basis.
The Sixth WBR Soldier Technology Conference and Exhibition represents an unusual event. Despite its commercial genesis it has gained a semi-official status as an annual meeting place for the NATO Soldier Modernisation Programme community. The event moved this year from Brussels to London for the first time, to accommodate growing demands for exhibition space. The show is notable for the fact that many companies chose to use this event, rather than Eurosatory the previous week, to publicly show new products to a highly targeted audience.
Perhaps the most significant item on display at the WBR Soldier Technology exhibition was the first glance at new Harris RF Communications Division RF-300U Personal Radio. Battlespace will be returning to this topic at a later date.
Selex Communications took the opportunity to preview a range of capabilities that will have their formal public launch in September. Inevitably, considering the venue, the Personal Role Radio (PRR) family had a prominent role. 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, 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 give options 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 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 weights 2.5kg and the battery a further 2.2Kg to give the system the required range.
‘Hearing’ is the responsibility of the WACH-900 Tactic