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By Adam Baddeley, Deputy Editor, BATTLESPACE

16 Sep 05. The Communications Information Module (CIM) being developed for the Royal Netherlands Army (RNLA) by Thales is becoming as a key tool in enhancing command and control and situational awareness for the Dutch Dismounted Soldier System (D2S2). Thales were awarded the contract for the CIM with partners TNO and as tasked with supplying twelve ensembles for trials in April 2006 and many elements of CIM are also being included in the UK’s imminent FIST V2 trials.

At the core of the CIM is the Torso computer developed by Thales Norway for the NORMANS programme. This seven port computer currently uses an Intel X-scale PXA270 CPU which also includes libraries for multi-media audio/video compression/decompression. 128Mb or RAM is coupled with 256Mb of retained i.e. non-volatile memory, which includes a 192Mb Flash disc. Information is sent around the body via cabling – compatible with any future or legacy load carriage system via USB 2.0 HiSpeed cablings at rates of 480Mbps, allowing carry multiple signals to be sent simultaneously. The connectors used are currently Glenair 801 series ‘Mighty Mouse’ connectors. The size of the aluminium cased device is 99x141x30mm and weighs 440g and has a low power consumption of 2W reaching up to 6W and uses an external power source.

The Torso computer has also been selected by the FIST PMCO team for the V2 trials beginning next month, with field trials for NORMANS scheduled for 2006.

Thales is offering its BOOTS (Battlefield Object Oriented Tool Set) software with the Torso computer which has developed in house and designed to be compatible with the higher level, and also in house TBMS software which the company says is in service with a number of countries. BOOTS has three layers; the operating system (OS) which is either Windows or Linux, upon which the BOOTS Core Element sits and isolates the applications held at the functional layer from the OS layer. The BOOTS functional layer includes a Graphic User Interface, device access management and specific process and procedures that can be modified to adapt BOOTS to each militaries’ Tactics, Techniques and Procedures. For the CIM, the RNLA D2S2 team have opted for local developed C2 application at the functional layer produced by the Army’s C2 support Centre, which remains at Ede.

A specific requirement of CIM is the use of a hand held monocular colour display for use by individual soldiers. Dubbed the Soldier Man Machine Interface (SMMI), when gripped the screen shots can be navigated via thumb ‘joystick’ button and menus accessed via two software defined buttons just below the screen. Brightness is controlled by the fore finger at the rear of the display.

The SMMI has been supplied by Thales’ St Asaphs based subsidiary High Tech Optics with the first device due to be delivered by the end of September. The subsidiary is in the process of being sold to private equity firm Candover associates and the transfer to is due to be completed in mid November

The C2SC software developed for the SIM provides a highly simplified SA picture. Only key topographic features are displayed against a black background such as woods, rivers, roads and mission waypoints. The location of the rest of the soldier sections are also shown against a series of range measurements at intervals of 50m represented by circles radiating around the soldier. This allows the user to quickly orient himself at a glance with the minimum of time spent looking down at the SMMI.

The section, platoon and company commanders will be equipped with the Command Digital Assistant (CDA) a conventional PDA type device with larger screen and traditional GIS. A Terralogic PDA is being used in the FIST V2 trials but the RNLA had not made a decision on the CDA device by the time of DSEi.

The transport layer between CIM equipped soldier is the Selex Communications H4870 version of the Personal Role Radio,

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