Future soldier

A soldier rides a Sur-Ron recce motorcycle as part of a future capabilities demonstration at AWE20.

“catalyst” for TommyWorks and one that has shaped the need for a new dismounted close-combat situational awareness (DSA) system.

Improved awareness on the frontline The development of a DSA capability is key to British soldier modernisation and will ultimately result in the development of the 24-hour integrated digital soldier, for which TommyWorks will be the platform authority that verifies compliance. Lieutenant Colonel Matt Sheldrick of SO1 Combat Systems and Bearers – the group responsible for the delivery of the DSA capability – told the conference that it will be designed to answer fundamental battlefield questions, including: ‘Where am I?’, ‘Where are my soldiers?’, ‘What are my orders?’ and ‘Where is the enemy?’ “For the dismounted close-combat soldier, DSA will underpin the land digital backbone, setting the foundations to facilitate the future linking of sensors, decision makers and effectors,” he said. Now in its assessment phase, the first ‘lite’ iteration of the capability will be provided to TommyWorks this year for its enhanced light force battalion fielding project. Sheldrick explained that it “will allow dismounted commanders to benefit from the automation of battlefield information gathering, as well as reducing cognitive burden, allowing commanders to focus on analysing more timely and accurate information to make quicker, better-informed decisions”. This first delivery will include a radio-bearer platform with a waveform that will provide detailed position location information of each individual soldier. There will also be laptop-style devices for dismounted close- combat commanders and a battle space management application to provide mapping and data display, as well as supporting reports and returns between the platoon and the company headquarters. A headset including a tactical hearing protection microphone, and various ancillaries such as power supply, cabling, patches and planning laptops will also be provided.


“DSA will be central in making the dismounted soldier ready to fight in the challenging conditions of the modern-day battlefield – and it will do this by increasing battlefield tempo,” said Sheldrick. Each DSA iteration will have its own mini life-cycle within the project’s overall procurement process. This will allow capability to be updated on a semi- regular basis to exploit new technologies assessed by TommyWorks. Davies said this process is evolutionary rather than revolutionary. “This is one of the key things that we’ve learned: we don’t need to be just into the delivery of equipment, we need to be into the fielding and training progression in order to understand the benefits that we can get, and whether what we plan to do in the first place with a particular version actually delivers the benefits,” he said. “Now the versions may be small improvements, they may be little ones, but that’s actually how we see it structured moving forward.”

A ‘campaign plan’ has been devised to facilitate these small but vital steps, including vertical integration tools that help quantify how different configurations change the weight and impact on soldiers, Davies explained. “How does this work when we integrate different systems together from different project teams and develop different delivery agents? How do we link that into safety, security and EMC [electromagnetic compatibility]? How do we accept all of that as a combined design rather than a single equipment design?” It also raised questions for procurement. “How do we go about buying kit when we’re not trying to buy for the whole army every single time? What different options are there – how do we get constantly improving kit?” With UK troop numbers set to be cut following the

MoD’s Integrated Review of Security and Defence, teams like TommyWorks will be vital to ensuring that the British Army maintains capability, and that soldiers have the right technology at the right price to maintain lethality far into the future. ●

Defence & Security Systems International /

UK Ministry of Defence

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