May 12/11: The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announces [PDF] Saudi Arabia’s formal request on behalf of its army to buy over $300 million in night vision equipment.
The DSCA release specifically mentions “defense and counter-terrorism requirements to deter current insurgent activity along their southern border” as part of the rationale. Yemen has indeed been a little reported but consequential regional trouble spot, which has drawn open intervention from Saudi naval and air forces in recent years. The Royal Saudi Land Forces want:
“During Operation Mountain Lion I found myself praying for bad weather, the first time in my military career I was actually begging for a cold front to come through. I knew my soldiers could handle it and the enemy couldn’t. ECWCS allowed my men to outlast the enemy on their own terrain. When the enemy was forced out of the mountains due to the bitter cold to take shelter, that’s when we got them.”
— LTC Christopher Cavoli, US Army 10th Mountain Division, Afghanistan
This third generation of the Extended Cold Weather Clothing System (ECWCS-III) is a radical re-design of the cold weather clothing system for the U.S. Army. So, exactly what’s in the ECWCS-III?
The US military is a military on the move. It also is a military on the computer and the network. Linking those two aspects together are notebook computers that can be taken on patrol as well as used on the flight line, at a command post, or in a field hospital.
But US military’s notebooks are not like everyday laptops. They are built to withstand the harsh conditions of Afghanistan or the demanding conditions of flight-line maintenance. They need to be rugged and able to withstand sand, water, wind, heat, cold, jarring impacts, and various chemicals and fluids.
This article examines the US military’s standards and criteria for rugged notebook computers, the environmental and work environments that the rugged computers must be able to endure, as well as assessments of how rugged computers respond in practice. But first, let’s examine what we mean by the term “rugged.”
By August 2010, however, the acquisition had shifted to a targeted buy of several Mikal properties. The move will consolidate Elbit’s position in a number of sectors, offering the prospect of close links between its sensors, targeting systems, UAVs, and front-line battlefield platforms.
The German Bundeswehr’s 21st century IdZ (Infanterist der Zukunft, or “Infantryman Of The Future”) project, is part of a wider global trend in advanced militaries: fully integrated sets of weapons, computing, and sighting systems for the individual soldier. As an added challenge, these systems also have to tie into the elaborate battle management systems those countries are fielding, for use by vehicles and higher levels of command.
So, what is IdZ – Enhanced System (IdZ-ES), beyond “a comprehensive equipment concept for the individual soldier”? And how is it progressing?
A number of countries are currently developing “future soldier” kits that attempt to give soldiers the same kind of advanced technologies now going into vehicles, aircraft, etc., including wearable computers, helmet displays, video streaming of night weapon sights, and more. The trade-offs lie in weight, complexity, power overhead, maintenance burden, and cost.
As currently conceived, the wisdom and long-term effectiveness of many of these programs is a matter of debate that will only be resolved by performance in combat situations. The IMESS effort may have an unfortunate acronym in English, but it sits firmly in the mainstream of these programs. The Swiss project’s vendors are also mainstream…
The US Army soldier is burdened with C4ISR technology. The soldier uses a handheld radio to talk to other soldiers and commanders, Blue Force Tracker to track friendly and enemy forces, a portable GPS receiver to determine location, a ROVER system to receive UAV video feeds, and, if he or she is lucky enough, an Afghan interpreter to communicate with the locals.
What if all these things could be brought together on one device – a smartphone that millions use every day in civilian life. The US Army has undertaken an effort, called Connecting Soldiers to Digital Applications (CSDA), to develop smartphones for the office and the battlefield, such as tracking enemy movements, determining locations of fellow soldiers, sending intelligence reports, and receiving live UAV video.
There are a number of obstacles to this bold vision, however, not the least of which is security. How will the Army ensure that all of this classified information is protected using open source commercial technology?
Thermal sights on weapons see heat. This has advantages in complete darkness, or in the presence of obscurants like dust storms, normal smoke, etc. because they can still pick out human and vehicle targets. Using deep infrared viewers also avoids “blooms” or whiteouts if someone flashes a bright light source like a flashlight at you. On the other hand, unless the lines on your map or lettering on that street sign have different heat values, thermal/ “deep infrared” sights aren’t going to help very much. This is why most 3rd and 4th generation night vision goggles use a combination of thermal and light intensifier technologies.
The AN/PAS-13 thermal weapons sights are used in more limited capacities, either as weapons sights or without a weapon as a sort of hand-held “night telescope.” The second generation of these sights is now being fielded, and are the subject of additional multi-billion orders from the US military.
A couple of years ago, it looked like the Land Warrior program was dead due to soldiers’ concerns that the equipment was too heavy and complex. However, after trimming down the system from 17 pounds to 7.2 pounds, the Army is moving ahead with the program.
While those efforts are underway, the US Army still owns more than 900 Land Warrior ensembles, 300 vehicle-integration kits, and related equipment as of October 2009. Now, a new set of contracts enables General Dynamics’ field service engineers to deploy with all Land Warrior-equipped units and provide support for housing, repairing and shipping spare and replacement Land Warrior gear worldwide.
BAE Systems Specialty Group, PA won a $17.9 firm-fixed-price 5-year indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity US Army production contract for Modular Lightweight Load Carrying Equipment (MOLLE). Work will be performed in Jessup. Estimated completion date is Aug 11/11. The original proposal was Web solicited with 3 bids received. The U.S. Army Research Development & Engineering Command’s Natick Contracting Center in Natick, MA manages the contract (W911QY-06-D-0003).
Modular Light-weight Load Carrying Equipment (MOLLE) is a modular quick-release backpack with compartments and components that can easily be clipped on or removed, plus a fighting load vest that can accept removable pockets for the Rifleman, Pistol, Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) Gunner, and Grenadier configurations. Its modularity allows individuals to tailor their load and configuration to meet mission needs.