Infantry-21: Germany’s IdZ-ES

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IdZ-ES components(click to view full) 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 […]

IdZ-ES components
(click to view full)

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?


IdZ Vest System

IdZ Vest System
(click to view full)

EADS Defence Electronics leads the consortium of the “Projekthaus System Soldat,” and the high-tech items of equipment carried by the infantryman are all carefully tailored to the IdZ concept: the computer, sensors, helmet system with display and voice radio, navigation aids, body armor, and carrying system. Fully digitized, the IdZ modular communication equipment enables transmission of voice, data and video.

In general, a kit equips an infantry squad of 10 soldiers – a squad commander, and 9 squad members. Equipment in the systems includes a H&K G36 assault rifle; body armor; weapon mounted laser system (Oerlikon Contraves); a C4I command, control, communications, computers and information system integrated in the load-carrying vest (Thales); a NavICom hand-held computer/PDA that works with the C4I system and can show moving map displays, force tracker information, UAV feeds, etc.; eye and ear protection, including eye protection glasses; and night vision equipment (Thales Angenieux Lucie), and various special items (such as laser range finder, camera, thermal image sighting device. The equipment is also designed to work with Nuclear, Biological & Chemical protection suits.

Rheinmetall’s “Interconnected Command Control Communications Computer Unit” (IC4U) in the next-generation IdZ-ES will also enable real-time exchange of data between individual infantrymen, the section vehicle and relevant networks. IdZ-ES can be integrated into the German Army’s FuInfoSys command and information system. It is also fully compliant with NATO standards, which helps in adapting and integrating it with the armed forces of Germany’s allies. The GPS-integrated digital display/PDA will then permits real-time depiction of the situation on the ground {sehr gut}, which can be monitored at all echelons of command {vielleicht nicht so gut}.

Whether that represents an advance on some very old alternatives is likely to depend on how the system is used. About 217 IdZ v1, or IdZ-BS systems were scheduled for delivery, and the systems was planned to enter service with Bundeswehr Spezielle Operationen (Bundereswher Special Operations), as well as the Force Protection Forces of the Luftwaffe and the German Navy’s SEK-M. In the end, the order would be for about 250 systems of 10 sets each. IdZ-BS systems have been deployed by the German Army in Afghanistan, Kosovo and the Congo.

IdZ v2, or IdZ-ES, adds a focus on the infantry squad in combination with its armored transport vehicles. About 1,100 IdZ-ES systems are scheduled for delivery between 2010 – 2014.

Rheinmetall Defence is also taking part in various international projects and programs for equipping the soldier of the future, including in Canada, and the French FELIN program. Its partner EADS Cassidian is also involved in Spain’s COMFUT and Switzerland’s IMESS.

Contracts & Key Events

IdZ Future Soldier

Infanterist Der Zukunft
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March 2/11: EADS Cassidian announces a BWB order for another 400 IdZ units, as part of an immediate buy to meet the needs of Bundeswehr forces deployed in Afghanistan.

“It means that another 400 Bundeswehr soldiers will be supported by the tried and tested soldier system for mission preparation and execution. This new delivery will raise the Bundeswehr’s total number of IdZ BS equipment sets to 2,900.”

May 17/10: EADS Defence & Security announces that Germany’s BWB procurement office has given them a contract to deliver another 220 units of the Future Soldier System (Infanterist der Zukunft) in its basic version (IdZ BS), for deployment in Afghanistan. It means that another 220 Bundeswehr soldiers will be supported, and will raise the Bundeswehr’s total number of IdZ BS equipment sets to about 2,500, or 250 sets. EADS release.

Dec 15/09: The German government orders a pre-production version of the company’s “Future Soldier – Expanded System” (IdZ-ES) from Rheinmetall Defence of Düsseldorf, Germany. Based on this pre-production system, proof of producibility is to be presented at the beginning of 2011, as a key prerequisite for the start of full-scale serial production in 2012. Rheinmetall Defence.

May 29/07: Jane’s International Defence Review reports that Rheinmetall has ordered Nacre’s QuietPro digital tactical headsets for the IdZ-ES soldier system ensemble. “An initial contract was signed in April 2007, including funding to cover the current development phase, which should culminate in large-volume procurement orders starting in 2009, when IdZ-ES is to enter serial production.”

Nov 27/06: Airborne Combat Engineer links to this article and offers a grunt’s-eye view:

“Don’t know about you, but I used to hate running around in the woods (quite a few years ago) with all manner of stuff bouncing and clanking and getting in my way when I hit the ground. A fighting man needs to be equipped like a Ninja, with just what he really needs, as small, tight, and as unencumbering as possible.

There’s an old saying that if you load a soldier down with enough high-tech stuff, a primitive fighter will sneak up on him and club him to death.”

IdZ Swedish Trials

IdZ in MARKUS Study
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Nov 10/06: Swedish Army Combat School tests German soldier system. The goal of the trials is to test and quantify the difference in individual soldier and group performance when using a complete soldier system. The results of the trials will be compared to previous trials done by the MARKUS study [web page | PDF presentation] in 2002-2006. The final report of the IdZ trials will be completed in early 2007 and will also be presented to Germany.

Sept 1/06: The German military has contracted with Rheinmetall to develop an expanded version of its IdZ system. Under the contract, Rheinmetall is to furnish the Bundeswehr with 2 IdZ-ES system demonstrators in 2008. IdZ-ES will include Rheinmetall’s IC4U computer unit to provide a NATO-standard link to German Army’s FuInfoSys command and information system. The contract also incorporates development of a new visor-equipped helmet, a system for monitoring the soldier’s health status, sensor packages for fire control and mine detection, and integration of IdZ-ES technology into various armored systems such as the new German Puma IFV(Infantry Fighting Vehicle) and MRAV Boxer APC(Armored Personnel Carrier), as well as lightweight air-portable combat vehicles like the Wiesel and Bv/BvS family.

The firm expects that this “multi-million euro” development contract will lead to large-volume procurement orders starting in 2009, when serial production is set to commence and Germany’s infantry, armoured infantry, air force security troops and naval special operations units are scheduled to be outfitted with the new system. Rheinmatall is also playing a critical part in developing similar systems on behalf of the armed forces of Canada (ISSP) and France (FELIN), and Chairman of the Board Klaus Eberhardt believes this contract may help Rheinmetall strengthen its competitiveness in an important field: “…the Bundeswehr order is an impressive reference, which should help us in winning export orders” above and beyond their efforts so far in Canada and France.” Rheinmetall release.

June 12/06: Rheinmetall Defence announces that during the current IdZ planning and design phase, its subsidiaries will select and investigate state-of-the-art technologies, integrating these into a single system. Two IdZ-ES system demonstrators will be delivered in 2008, bringing the planning and design phase to a close, and contracts the first enhanced Future Soldier components are seen as possible as of in 2009.

IdZ Soldier Closeup

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Dec 3/04: EADS announces that EADS Defence Electronics has obtained a EUR 70 million series order from the Federal Office of Defense Technology and Procurement (BWB) for 196 IdZ Future Soldier basic systems, which are envisaged for the NATO Response Force and the German ISAF contingent in Afghanistan. Each system will equip 10 soldiers (squad commander + 9-man squad), and “the Bundeswehr already obtained 15 systems between July and November for rapid reaction forces in Kundus [Afghanistan].”

July 1/04: The first systems from the German BWB’s order of 15 IdZ integrated front-line warrior systems are handed over at Hammelburhg Infantry School. Each system includes 10 sets, so 15 would equip 150 soldiers. The contract was worth EUR 10 million ($12.5 million), and the equipment will be used by German forces deployed with ISAF in Kunduz, northern Afghanistan. EADS release.

2002: A 5-month trial of prototype IdZ systems takes place at Prizren in Kosovo, as part of the KFOR deployment. Two prototype IdZ Squad systems, together with additional squad weapons and sighting systems, are used in the trials.

Later, a contract is issued to EADS Defence Electronics for further development and delivery.

Additional Readings

* Army Technology – IdZ (Infanterist der Zukunft) – Infantryman of the Future, Germany

* German BWB procurement agency – Ausgewahlte Einzelprojekte: Infanterist der Zukunft (IdZ) [in German]

* German Army – Entwicklung – Infanterist der Zukunft [in German]

* Rheinmetall – Rheinmetall’s Future Soldier System concept (IdZ-ES): Inclusion in networked enabled capability (NEC) is crucial. See also 2007 release and 2008 release with diagrams.

* Army Technology – IdZ (Infanterist der Zukunft) – Infantryman of the Future, Germany

* Soldier Modernisation – IdZ-ER prepares for series production

* Soldier Modernisation – IdZ-ES Evolves Through Trials

* Wikipedia – IdZ

* Der Spiegel (June 17/05) – Germany’s Bundeswehr Steps out on the Global Stage

* AFCEA (November 2004) – Bundeswehr Marches Into the Future

* German Bundeswehr (July 1/04) – High Tech fur die Infanterie [in German]

* German Bundeswehr (April 23/04) – 10 Soldaten sind das System Infanterist der Zukunft [in German]

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