Infantry-21: Spanish Future Soldier Contract to EADS
In September 2006, EADS Defence & Security Systems Spain received a EUR 24.5 million contract for the system design and development of the “COMbatiente FUTuro” (COMFUT) program. EADS-DS Spain will lead a group of Spanish sub-contractors including Elint, Fedur, GMV, Iturri and Tecnobit in the first round. Their team will design and develop COMFUT, then provide the Spanish Army with prototypes to equip 3 suqads (36 soldiers) over a 3-year period ending in 2009. If the tests and evaluations go well, the Spanish Ministry of Defence could acquire up to 7,000 COMFUT sets in the future… but all of the standard caveats and issues re: the global “Future Soldier” trend still apply, and the EDA is raising new concerns about lack of interoperability between the various country projects.
DID is once again grateful to Spanish reader Pedro Lucio for his assistance in obtaining details regarding the COMFUT program’s history, components, areas of research, et. al. The latest news includes a contract to ITT…
Program History & Responsibility
A program office based at the Academia de InfanterÃa in Toledo will oversee COMFUT. Its EUR 24.5 million budget is financed by the Spanish Ministry of Defence’s Procurement Office (DirecciÃ³n General de Armamento y Material, DGAM), under the Centres and Technology Subdirectorate (SubdirecciÃ³n de TecnologÃa y Centros: SubTeCen).
COMFUT arose from a 1994 NATO group called Landgroup 3, which looked at new technologies his applications for member country soldiers. In 1996 the Spanish Army created its own team, and the first requests were made in 1999 and a program office was stood up. All financing cames through the DGAM (Direccion General de Armamento).
The 2000-2002 period saw the first evaluations of technologies and first prototypes were built, even as work was done to bring Spanish companies into the process in order to maximize local share of production.
Weapons and sensors: Basic weapon is the H&K G-36E, now in service. Sensors to be installed iclude a day-use video camera and thermal vision cameras, and a monocle sight on the helmet to receive images from the gun-mounted sensors.
Helmet & Protection. New body armor and integrated load-bearing vest; Polyethylene helmet with: microphone, earpiece, night vision goggles, compatible NBC(nuclear, biological, chemical) mask, and laser-protection screening. Total weight of helmet and sensors must be around 2 Kg.
C4I. Small computer that can provide “blue force tracker” type services, showing friendly and enemy positions. This ruggedized, touchscreen-based computer would include capabilities like integrated GPS, message transmission, the ability to send battlefield images and designated objectives, et. al.
Uniform and personal equipment. A comfortable basic uniform with infrared-reduction features that also helps keep soldiers from overheating, bad weather dress, full NBC suit, footwear.
Support equipment. Physiological sensors, pickaxe, power supply, hydration system, repair tools and first-aid kit.
Lines of research and investigation for the COMFUT program include:
- Fuel cells, power sources, and batteries.
- Mimetic textiles
- Micro conditioning for comfort
- Improved footwear
- High-energy food and drink
- Exoskeleton potential to improve load capacity, abilities
- Waste recycling
As noted above, the main partners of EADS on the COMFUT program are: Elint, Fedur, GMV, Iturri y Amopak, and Tecnobit.
Updates and Developments:
July 28/08: ITT Corporation announces a contract from EADS for SpearNet radio systems and related products, as part of the Full-Scale Engineering Development (FSED) phase of Spain’s COMFUT. The SpearNet radio will provide the backbone for the system’s voice, data and video communications.
ITT will provide its SpearNet [PDF format] smal wideband networking radios with embedded GPS and ad-hoc networking. ITT will support EADS with engineering services during the development phase of COMFUT, but orders for COMFUT’s production phase would require a separate follow-on contract at a future date.
Dec 20/07: EADS announces that it has delivered the first set of COMFUT squad gear to the Spanish DGAM. The squad comprises 12 individual comprehensive kits. Pablo de Bergia, Head of the EADS Defence & Security Division in Spain, stated:
“The COMFUT programme turned out to be a keystone for our division, as it does not only prove that we are a leader in systems integration… but as it also represents a blueprint for similar programmes that are about to begin in other European countries. In particular, I want to refer to the Swiss IMESS programme for the modernization of infantry soldiers, that recently has been awarded to EADS.”
According to EADS, the COMFUT Programme Office will now conduct a first series trials to verify the equipment’s performance, and make modification suggestions for the design and the production of equipment for 2 further squads. The delivery of the COMFUT systems to the remaining squads, which will complete this contract phase, is scheduled for the end of 2008.
Sept 18/06: EADS Defence & Security Systems Spain announces a EUR 24.5 million contract for the system design and development of the “COMbatiente FUTuro” (COMFUT) program.