EDA, National Defense Magazine Address “Future Soldier” System Trend & Issues
The global trend toward “future soldier” infantry ensembles has swept many countries up in its wake, but issues remain. National Defense Magazine examines some of them in a recent article, and the Steering Board of the European Defence Agency has added a few more.
We’ll begin with the EDA Steering Committee, which recently declared that:
“The meeting also considered an Agency report on various national initiatives to upgrade the equipment of the individual soldier or “21st century Warrior,” with a particular focus on technology to improve communication, protection and firepower. It found that the programmes had limited commonality and that interoperability – an important factor in multinational operations – remained a major challenge.
The Agency was asked to define to what degree these new systems should be interoperable, identify possible areas for cooperation on sub-systems which the programmes have in common, and to work on military requirements for the next generation of systems beyond 2015.”
This may help, but interoperability for the various “Infantry-21” next-generation systems certainly doesn’t appear to be on many national agendas at the moment. Meanwhile, National Defense Magazine’s article details some of the systems involved, and notes these key issues:
“From small handheld computers and hands-free communications links to helmet-mounted displays and global positioning system receivers, the equipment incorporated into these future soldier ensembles will make the infantryman more lethal, stealthy and survivable, say company representatives during the Eurosatory ground warfare exposition here.
But while the future fighting ensembles consolidate disparate systems into a single “plug and play” unit, they do not yet alleviate the weight of all the gear.
For a typical infantry combat mission, soldiers currently are saddled with 100 to 150 pounds of gear. Armies developing these future ensembles have set ambitious weight-loss goals for the equipment. The U.S. Army’s “future warrior” project, for example, wants to lighten the load to about 50 pounds.
Some European efforts estimate the gear will weigh between 52 and 66 pounds.
Along with the weight concerns, power consumption requirements for all the digital technologies will likely be high, which will require soldiers to tote even more energy sources. And there is a question of how much information troops can absorb before becoming overloaded.”
DID will continue to provide a focus article for ongoing coverage of this global trend; it will be updated as new materials are discovered or added.