Modernizing and equipping the force (Part 5)
December 30, 2010
By U.S. Army
EXCALIBUR: PRECISION FOR WARFIGHTERS
The M982 Excalibur artillery projectile provides Soldiers and Marines with a tool they need to succeed in a modern warfighting environment. It has all-weather availability, a range of 40 kilometers, accuracy of 6 meters or better, and has demonstrated performance in successful engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Excalibur is the only precision weapon organic to the brigade combat team.
The Excalibur is a 155 mm, precision-guided, extended-range artillery projectile designed to engage targets precisely with minimal collateral damage. The projectile's fuse can function in one of three modes: height of burst, point-detonate or point-detonate with delay. It can be fired from either the M777A2 Joint Lightweight Howitzer or the M109A6 Paladin Self-Propelled Howitzer.
Excalibur's major advantages lie in its accuracy, low collateral damage, high reliability, all-weather capability and responsiveness. It has been used successfully in 182 missions in U.S., as well as Canadian and Australian, theaters.
The Excalibur is completing its final approvals to go into full production in the second quarter, fiscal year 2011.
-PM Combat Ammunitions Systems
JAVELIN AND CCWS: RESPONDING TO CHANGE
The Javelin began as a man-portable, anti-armor missile in 1985, and continues to evolve. There have been major upgrades to the Command Launch Unit, featuring greater magnification, increased surveillance time, and increased identification range. There have also been improvements to the missile, resulting in significantly reduced time of flight and increased kinematic range.
As the Javelin continues to evolve, it is essential to maintain awareness of specific user requirements to ensure that the system evolves effectively.
The Army is currently funding a major improvement program for Javelin. One of these improvements, the multi-purpose warhead, is relevant to the fight in Operation Enduring Freedom. The MPWH employs a fragmenting case that increases the missile's effectiveness against non-armor targets such as personnel and light vehicles, while still meeting lethality requirements against armor.
Other improvements include precision terminal guidance, a new seeker, and a new guidance electronics unit. These improvements will further increase the range and performance of the system and mitigate obsolescence issues.
The requirements of today's dismounted infantry warfighter are constantly changing, and communication between developers and Soldiers is key to successfully adapting the Javelin to meet those requirements. The Close Combat Weapon Systems Project Management Office has created a Warfighter Communications Campaign, featuring a Javelin website at Army Knowledge Online.
The purpose of this initiative is to gather direct feedback from Soldiers who have used Javelin in theater. After-action review sessions are conducted with units redeploying from Iraq and Afghanistan to collect tactics, techniques and procedures with regard to use of the weapon system. Engagement information, success stories and suggestions for improvement are communicated throughout the different functional areas of the CCWS PMO, including engineering, logistics and training.
For more information, or to provide user feedback, visit https://www.us.army.mil/suite/page/617203.
MORTAR SYSTEMS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
Army commanders have long relied on their organic mortar systems to provide rapid and accurate fires. They own their mortars and understand their basic capabilities for providing responsive suppression, illumination and obscuration-and these characteristics are about to improve in a big way.
The biggest changes are taking place with 120 mm mortar systems in the infantry brigade combat team. Units are now receiving the M150/M151 Mortar Fire Control System-Dismounted, and the M326 Mortar Stowage Kit. The MFCS-D provides digital fire control that greatly increases both accuracy and responsiveness. The M326 provides a powered assist in rapidly emplacing and displacing the complete M120 mortar system (tube, baseplate, bipod and fire control) from the M1101 trailer.
With these enhancements, the IBCT mortar platoon now has shoot and scoot capabilities, allowing them to set up and fire accurately within 90 seconds of receipt of fire mission while on the move. After firing, the mortar can be displaced, stowed and ready for road march within two minutes.
The next advancement for the 120 mm mortar will be the XM395 cartridge, commonly known as the Accelerated Precision Mortar Initiative. Developed in response to an operational needs statement from forces deployed to Operation Enduring Freedom, the XM395 is a Global Positioning System-guided, 120 mm mortar cartridge.
Plans call for the new cartridge to be fielded to Afghanistan in 2011. Once fielded, it will reduce the risk of collateral damage by increasing accuracy to a 10-meter circle of equal probability or less. At maximum range this represents an estimated seven-fold improvement over the accuracy of the existing M934A1 round.
Enhancements to the lighter mortar systems (M224 60 mm and M252 81 mm) are mainly focused on weight reduction to reduce the Soldier's burden. All current capabilities for rate of fire and range will be maintained, but the new tubes, baseplates and bipods have been designed to reduce the weight of the 60 mm system from 46.5 to 35.1 pounds, and the 81 mm system from 93 to 72 pounds. These new weapons are scheduled to begin replacing the currently fielded 60 mm and 81 mm mortar systems this year.
PRECISION GUIDANCE KIT INCREASES ARTILLERY ACCURACY
Army artillerymen will soon have a new weapon that will allow them to provide more accurate fires.
The XM1156 Precision Guidance Kit, or PGK, is a global positioning system guidance kit with fusing functions, scheduled for fielding this year. It will improve the accuracy of the current stockpile of 155mm High Explosive M107, M795 and M549A1 projectiles.
Once fielded, the near precision PGK will increase the accuracy of these HE projectiles. Increased accuracy will mean increasing the efficiency of the existing 155mm HE stockpile, requiring fewer rounds to ensure the desired results. This has the potential to reduce the logistics burden of shipping and storing projectiles and propellant charges by an estimated 75 percent.
The PGK is compatible with the M109A6 Paladin and M777A2 lightweight towed howitzer. It is set with the same enhanced portable inductive artillery fuse setter currently in use with the M982 Excalibur round and the M782 multi-option fuse for artillery. Once fired, the PGK uses GPS satellite information to make small adjustments to its flight path and steer the projectile to the identified target location, thus improving the effectiveness of each round fired. When the XM1156 is fielded, it will supplement (but not replace) the precision capabilities provided by the much more accurate Excalibur.
The precision guidance kit has the potential to support warfighters by offering a flexible capability when accuracy and collateral damage are of concern. The improved accuracy maximizes the effectiveness of these munitions and significantly reduces the logistics burden while achieving the same effects.
PGK does not change the target sets associated with HE projectiles, but does change some of the conditions and considerations for tactical employment of the HE/PGK combination. Efforts are already underway to develop newer versions compatible with 105 mm projectiles with even better accuracy.
VALUE OF INTELLIGENCE EXPANDED BY DCGS-A
ATHERING information on the battlefield presents challenges for Soldiers and commanders. Pulling together multiple sources of information to develop a complete understanding of the battlefield, as well as providing an enterprise where collected information is of value to any Soldier (regardless of the echelon they operate within) can be difficult. The Distributed Common Ground System-Army has proven itself worthy of these tasks, under the duress of battle in Iraq and Afghanistan.
DCGS-A is designed as a dedicated avenue for ingesting, fusing, analyzing and disseminating information throughout the Army and associated defense agencies. The system replaces nine families of systems that had previously operated as stand-alone systems, providing signals intelligence, image intelligence, terrain, weather and moving target indicator information. Enabling these stand-alone systems to work together in a unified DCGS-A environment has presented unique challenges, which the program has worked through over the years, with the final solution of the DCGS-A Mobile Basic in sight.
DCGS-A is drastically changing the basic premise of how intelligence is collected and shared. Traditionally, intelligence has been looked at as an echelon asset. (The level a person operated within directly correlated with the information available to him.) DCGS-A allows units to move away from the echelon approach and into an enterprise solution.
The value and reliance on the intelligence DCGS-A currently provides extends beyond just Army and sister service users. When "the brain" (a data warehouse) was initially stood up, it was getting 10,000 to 20,000 queries a month, mostly from Army users. The number of requests has steadily increased to close to 250,000 hits a month, with the majority of requests coming from the other services and three-letter agencies.
Currently 90 percent of the force is fielded with DCGS-A V3 systems, and DCGS-A products will be more accessible in the near future, not only for American users, but also for coalition partners in Afghanistan. During this fiscal year, a DCGS-A capability will be migrating into the U.S. Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange and the Afghan Mission Network, establishing a two-way ability to push data to coalition partners and pull data from coalition systems.
The combination of technological enhancements, along with the out-of-the-box thinking that Soldier users bring to the intelligence enterprise, will continue to ensure that the variations of how DCGS-A can be used in the future are virtually limitless.
-Brandon Pollachek/PEO Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors Public Affairs
ONE SYSTEM REMOTE VIDEO TERMINAL
The One System Remote Video Terminal was born from an need for tactical commanders to leverage data collected from Unmanned Aircraft System and increase situational awareness on the battlefield. The UAS Common Systems Integration Product Office received that message, and in a few years, has coordinated the delivery of 2,500 OSRVTs, fielding more than 1,775 systems to theater.
The OSRVT is mobile, but also includes a tactical operations center configuration. The system consists of a laptop, multi-band receiver, UHF modem, antennas, cables, software and a Mobile Directional Antenna System. The MDAS is an extended-range antenna system for fixed- and semi-fixed TOC configurations. Two Soldiers can emplace and displace the OSRVT with MDAS in one hour. The OSRVT provides Soldiers with a real-time video feed from nearby UAS systems.
The OSRVT can be used in a stand-alone configuration, but is also being integrated into other platforms. Currently it has been integrated into the Apache Longbow (AH-64D) and Stryker combat vehicle, with ongoing work to integrate the system into other platforms such as the MRAP, OH-58, and UH-60. In 2010, a HH-60 MEDEVAC helicopter successfully participated in an OSRVT demonstration.
The OSRVT receives video and imagery data from numerous Department of Defense manned and unmanned platforms. Improvements are ongoing, and testing is underway with the ROVER 6, which will replace the existing ROVER 4 multiband receiver in the OSRVT. The Army is also working software upgrades that provide the OSRVT the ability to receive encrypted signals and digital video links from UASs.
Additionally, a team at Fort Rucker, Ala., recently conducted a user assessment of the OSRVT. This assessment supports the Army's efforts to fine-tune both functionality and ergonomics associated with allowing an OSRVT user to assume control of the UAS payloads. This bi-directional functionality of the OSRVT is the newest feature of the OSRVT program.
-PM Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Surveillance and Reconnaissance On-the-Move
CONNECTING SOLDIERS TO DIGITAL APPLICATIONS
Whether you're tech savvy or not, you will like what Connecting Soldiers to Digital Applications can do for you. The CSDA concept is to explore and leverage potential smart phone technologies to support and access Army functions in a portable, hand-held device.
CSDA's goal is to enhance Soldiers' efficiency and effectiveness with emerging technologies and capabilities in a time- and cost-saving manner.
Several pilot projects are exploring the value of providing Soldiers digital applications on smart phones for education, training, administrative functions, leadership development and operational support. These digital applications offer a convenient and flexible approach to training and information access, which helps foster a persistent learning environment.
For example, Soldiers will be able to use apps for a variety of training functions, including self-paced individual training, foreign language education and translation, and distance learning. They will also perform administrative functions, like issuing and storing temporary duty and permanent change of station orders, scheduling medical and dental appointments, and preparing for promotion boards.
The Army is actively generating smart phone training applications focused on priority needs. In spring 2010 CSDA's complimentary program, Apps for the Army, leveraged the Army's own talent to develop applications for Soldiers. Many of these applications will be incorporated into CSDA.
The Army is also exploring the use of smart phone technologies for operational and tactical functions. Possible capabilities include digital mapping and communication applications with which Soldiers will be able to locate landmarks, relay information on enemy or friendly locations and pinpoint injured Soldiers' locations to quickly send help.
So, is it Droid, iPhone or Palm Treo' In the summer of 2010, 200 phones were issued to Soldiers from the 5th Brigade, 1st Armored Division, at Fort Bliss, Texas, to test and evaluate the effectiveness of the phone brands in support of military functional tasks. The Soldiers chose and loaded applications useful to them from the Army's Apps Store. A tracking system allowed them to assess and share their evaluation, engage in dialogue and exchange feedback. At the end of the testing period, the data will be captured, reviewed and assessed to determine which of these commercially developed phones is most suited for the Army.
-Annie Gammell/Future Force Integration Directorate Public Affairs
Apps for the Army, or A4A, the Army's first internal application development challenge, launched March 1, 2010. In 75 days, 141 Soldiers and Army civilians registered in teams or as individuals to participate in the A4A challenge. By the May 15 deadline, Soldiers and civilians from all three Army components had developed and submitted 53 Web and mobile applications.
The A4A pilot program shifted from traditional Army development practices by using the latest in agile development methods, all the while focusing on rapid deployment. A4A is part of the Army's larger effort to make it easier to develop apps and certify and deliver software.
The Army provided application development teams with key resources such as a multi-platform, cloud-based, secure development environment. The forge.mil development site served as the collaborative software repository for participating teams.
Fifteen winners and 10 honorable mentions were selected in June. Each of the five categories had first ($3,000), second ($1,500), and third place ($1,000) winners, as well as honorable mentions. Each application helps address mission-related challenges. Winners are listed at http://ciog6.army.mil/Apps4Army.aspx. Winning apps are available at the Army Application Marketplace: https://storefront.mil/army/. For desktop access, a DOD Common Access Card is needed. Users browsing from their iPhone and Android Smartphones do not need a CAC.
NEW CAMO ENHANCES SOLDIERS' CAPABILITIES
August 10, 2010, Soldiers deploying to Afghanistan became the first to be issued uniforms in the newly designed Operation Enduring Freedom Camouflage Pattern, or OCP.
The decision to develop and field an alternative camouflage for uniforms came out of a recognition that in Afghanistan, Soldiers on a single patrol can potentially go from desert conditions to wooded areas, villages and rocky mountain environments. The current Universal Camouflage Pattern, or UCP, did not meet all of the concealment needs for Afghanistan's varied terrain.
When conceiving a new camouflage color palette, Program Executive Office Soldier-responsible for developing and testing the new uniform-wanted to ensure Soldiers have a combat edge in every possible terrain. Similar to the Battle Dress Uniform woodland print, the OCP is a combination of seven shades of greens, browns and beiges that presents a concealment solution to Afghanistan's multiple-terrain challenge. Extensive testing has demonstrated that in varied environments, the OCP shields wearers from detection 20 percent more effectively than the UCP.
Making Soldiers blend with their environment is not the only protection the OCP offers. It is also fire-resistant and protects Soldiers from insect-borne diseases, such as malaria, Lyme disease and leishmaniasis. The OCP stood up to flash flames at a burn center in San Antonio, Texas, well enough to almost entirely prevent third-degree burns. The clothing has also been chemically treated to make Soldiers less appealing to mosquitoes.
While cut in the same style as the ACU, the OCP-the result of months of rigorous testing and critical Soldier feedback-will have several upgrades including a reinforced seat, buttons on the trouser cargo pockets, and buttons to replace the Velcro on other pockets. New Mountain Combat Boots featuring a tougher, more durable sole for gripping mountainous terrain, will also be issued to deploying Soldiers.
In collaboration with the U.S. Army Infantry Center, Natick Labs, the Asymmetric Warfare Group, Army Special Operations Command and the U.S. Naval Research Center, PEO Soldier conducted a nearly yearlong study of options for the new camouflage, which included travel throughout Afghanistan to gather data on different proposed patterns and Soldier input on the patterns' detectability and blendability.
NEW WEAPONS: LIGHTER, BETTER
For years, the Army has been addressing Soldier load using both materiel and non-materiel approaches.
For its part, Program Executive Office Soldier's Project Manager Soldier Weapons division continues to make progress on lightening the load through its individual and crew-served weapons programs. This initiative is vital for both the survivability and lethality of Soldiers on the battlefield. While some weight savings have been in place for years, PM Soldier Weapons continues to progress in this critical area of Soldier support.
M4 Carbine: The M4 is a shorter version of the M16 rifle designed for lightness, speed and mobility. Compared to the M16, the M4 reduces the Soldier's load by 1.4 pounds.
M26 12-Gauge Modular Accessory Shotgun System: The lightweight MASS can mount to the M4 Carbine, adding the capability of a separate shotgun without the need to carry a separate weapon. Compared to the M500, the M26 reduces a Soldier's load by 2.2 to 4.2 pounds, depending on the configuration.
M240L 7.62mm Medium Machine Gun (Light): The new M240L incorporates titanium construction and alternative manufacturing methods while delivering outstanding reliability and performance numbers. Compared to the M240B, the M240L reduces the Soldier's load by 5 pounds.
XM806 Lightweight .50 Caliber Machine Gun: Currently in development, the 45-pound XM806 weighs roughly half as much as the M2 .50-caliber machine gun, while reducing the recoil by at least 60 percent. Compared to a similarly configured M2 and tripod, the XM806 will reduce a Soldier's load by more than 50 pounds.
Improved Machine Gun Tripods Systems: The M192 Lightweight Ground Mount features a lower profile and weighs approximately 6 pounds less than the M122A1 Tripod it replaced. The XM205 Lightweight Heavy Machine Gun Tripod is currently in development and is intended for the dismounted M2 and MK19. The final weight upon production will be at least 30 percent less than the current 44-pound M3 tripod.
Collectively, the weight savings gained in Soldier weapons constitute a significant achievement, but more savings lie on the horizon. Joint efforts through the Lightweight Small Arms Technologies program are working to reduce the weight of weapons and ammunition by as much as 50 percent. LSAT projects include new weapon systems that fire cased and caseless telescoped ammunition. With continuing advances in material science and engineering, the future is both bright and light.
-PEO Soldier's Project Manager Soldier Weapons
LIGHTEN UP: NEW TACTICAL VEST
The Army's Program Executive Office Soldier places an emphasis on lightening the Soldier's load by reducing the weight of required equipment, both to enhance mission effectiveness and, most important, to improve Soldier survivability.
The Improved Outer Tactical Vest is the latest advancement in body armor and is more than three pounds lighter than its predecessor, the Outer Tactical Vest. It provides protection from fragments and 9 mm rounds.
The IOTV consists of a groin protector, back yoke and collar, front yoke and collar, lower back protector and deltoid protector. The IOTV incorporates a quick release for emergency doffing. In 2010, the IOTV underwent more than a dozen enhancements to improve form, fit and function.
The new Soldier Plate Carrier System, or SPCS, is a lighter-weight form of body armor designed to be used in designated missions in Operation Enduring Freedom that require greater mobility. It provides ballistic protection equal to or greater than that of the IOTV in a stand-alone capacity, while reducing the Soldier's load, enhancing comfort, and optimizing mobility and maneuverability. The SPCS gives commanders more choices in how to carry out their missions while giving Soldiers greater flexibility to operate in demanding terrain.
The SPCS reduces the weight of fully equipped body armor by just more than 9 pounds. It weighs 5.85 pounds in size medium without ballistic plates, and 21.85 pounds in size medium with ballistic plates.
The SPCS vest carries standard hard armor plates for vital ballistic protection, but covers less of the Soldier's body than the Interceptor Body Armor system. This allows the Soldier to carry less weight while maintaining an equal amount of protection.
The lightweight SPCS vest features adjustable shoulder and side straps to ensure proper fit and keep the vest in place with minimal shifting during wear. Other features include padded shoulders, cable release, wrap-to-front design for a secure fit with easy donning, man-down drag strap, wire channel buttonholes, and modular lightweight load-carrying equipment webbing for securing mission-essential equipment.
The SPCS is compatible with essential equipment including M4/M16 magazines, a hydration system, squad radio and night vision equipment, as well as comfortable, secure and balanced wear of a day pack or rucksack
ENGAGEMENT SKILLS TRAINER 2000
All Soldiers train on the Engagement Skills Trainer 2000 before they ever fire a live round. The life-sized, life-like simulator provides marksmanship training to Soldiers through hundreds of interactive vignettes, ranging from military police procedures to maritime force protection scenarios and full-on combat operations.
The EST 2000, a virtual marksmanship trainer, provides a critical capability for leaders to train Soldiers. The training device provides Soldiers the opportunity to learn what's right, make mistakes and learn from their mistakes. Leaders can also measure performance, and then work on areas that need focus.
The EST 2000 provides safe and cost-effective training. And while the Army has avoided millions of dollars in costs through its use of the EST 2000, the true value of virtual marksmanship is that it allows a Soldier to conduct training leading to weapon proficiency, combat effectiveness and ultimately, survivability on the modern battlefield. A high percentage of Soldiers who train using a virtual marksmanship trainer will qualify the first time they go to a live-fire range.
In 2001, Program Executive Office-Simulation, Training and Instrumentation started providing marksmanship training via the EST 2000 and the program quickly gained momentum. Then in 2006, the Army recognized the importance and effectiveness of this training program and the EST 2000 became a critical part of the Army's marksmanship training strategy, such that Soldiers spend at least eight hours training on this virtual device before they undergo live gunnery training.
Today, more than 750 EST 2000s are training Soldiers across the globe, including those in combat zones. The EST 2000 also trains law enforcement officials and allied armies.
-PEO for Simulation, Training & Instrumentation
LOOK, UP IN THE SKY...IT'S THE GRAY EAGLE
The Army is continuing production of the Gray Eagle Extended Range/Multi-Purpose Unmanned Aircraft System with the first unit to be equipped in fiscal year 2011.
In support of a secretary of defense directive to surge forces to theater, the UAS Project Office developed a Quick Reaction Capability to get Gray Eagle into the fight more quickly. QRC-1 was fielded in fiscal year 2009 and QRC-2 late in fiscal year 2010.
While preparing for deployment, QRC-2 Soldiers tested their Gray Eagle UAS in a limited user test, May 22 through June 4, 2010. During the test, 17 Soldiers demonstrated to the Army Test and Evaluation Command and the Training and Doctrine Command capabilities manager, that they had learned how to effectively employ the system. The test provided the Army with vital information about the system, the training required to field it, and how to best use its capabilities in combat.
The test also debuted the operator's use of beyond line-of-sight via SATCOM control of both the aircraft and payload. QRC-2 supported ground units at the National Training Center in much the same way they will when they deploy. They flew day and night-often for long periods of time without landing-up to 19.9 hours on one sortie.
The 12 operators of the unit, swapping between aircraft operator and payload operator, worked 24/7 to support the mission. In a historic moment, they fired the first Hellfire II UAS Variant from a Soldier-operated ER/MP aircraft. In total, they would fire six missiles, some where they laser-designated the target themselves, and two where the target was designated by an Apache helicopter flying in the vicinity. They also provided laser-designation for an Apache to fire two Hellfire missiles.
This test was the first operational test for the ER/MP and was designed to show the potential for the system to meet design requirements for the mission.
-Jeffrey Crabb, deputy productmManager/UAS Project Office
SUGV PUTS EYES ON THE ENEMY
The Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle allows Soldiers to send robotic "eyes and ears" into potential danger areas while minimizing risk.
The SUGV is a small, man-packable robotic system weighing about 31 pounds. Each system consists of an operator control unit, a robotic chassis platform with video capability, digital communications/audio relay modules (plug in/out), and advanced sensors/mission modules. It has both a soft case that can be carried by a Soldier like a backpack, and a rugged storage container used to transport the system.
While unattended ground sensors help Soldiers and commanders gain a clearer picture of the battle space around static positions, they must be manually placed and cannot move around potential threats. Sometimes Soldiers hunting for the enemy in both urban and tactical environments need the ability to examine potential threats safely, and track the enemy into enclosed spaces; the SUGV gives them this ability.
Recent improvements in the SUGV include improved radio range and network connectivity, improved environmental qualification testing, and improved imagery from the sensor to the network workstation, with an emphasis on increasing the night infrared range for target recognition and research to further reduce the weight of the system.
The strength and durability of the SUGV's sensor neck, the strength of all brackets and latches and the ruggedness of the video camera in the payload were improved in response to testing evaluations. Soldier-driven improvements included more rigid flippers to keep the tread from coming off and a redesigned transit case to better protect the antenna.
The SUGV, the Urban Unattended Ground Sensor, Tactical Unattended Ground Sensor, and the Class I Unmanned Aircraft System will be networked to give Soldiers and commanders the best situational awareness possible on the battlefield.
The Army is scheduled to field the first set of new unmanned vehicles and sensors, including the SUGV, to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division at Fort Bliss, Texas, this year. Follow-on BCTs will be equipped with these systems based on Army Force Generation.
-PEO Ground Combat Systems
UH-72A LAKOTA: EXPANDED ROLES, MISSIONS
The UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopter is the Army's newest helicopter. On June 30, 2006, the Army awarded a contract to EADS North America to deliver and support the Lakota. It is replacing aging UH-1 and OH-58A/C aircraft in use by the Army National Guard and at test and training centers across the U.S. and its territories, as well as in Germany.
The Lakota is unique because it is a variant of a commercial aircraft, the Eurocopter EC-145. The UH-72A is Federal Aviation Administration certified. It is flown and maintained in accordance with FAA requirements, and everything on the aircraft (except for the ARC-231 secure radio) is commercially available and certified by the FAA. The Lakota is intended to fly in non-hostile and permissive environments, which allow the civil certification. This concept aided the rapid acquisition and fielding of the UH-72A.
The EC-145 is a modern twin-engine aircraft. The standard configuration carries two pilots and up to six passengers, and the MEDEVAC configuration has two pilots, up to three passengers and two litters that are mounted to the floor. The MEDEVAC aircraft also has racks to support the carriage of equipment such as defibrillators, pumps and IV bottles.
In the last year, to further increase the capability of the UH-72A, two major mission equipment package kits were being developed: one for the National Guard's security and support battalion mission, the other to support training at the combined training centers at Fort Irwin, Calif., Fort Polk, La., and in Germany.
The S&S BN MEP includes an electro-optical sensor, searchlight, laser pointer and equipment for displaying and downlinking data. The CTC MEP has more radios, a loudspeaker and equipment to simulate shooting and being shot at.
The UH-72A Lakota has quickly been deployed with the Army, providing improved capability and availability. There are more than 100 Lakotas flying with National Guard and Army units today, and they have amassed more than 30,000 flight hours. An additional 80 aircraft will enter service by the end of this year and by 2016, 345 total will be in use.
ARMY DEVELOPING SOLDIER-WEARABLE BATTERY
The Army is developing a thin rechargeable battery that will conform to the shape of the protective plate worn in Soldier vests.
The new Soldier Conformable Rechargeable Battery configuration more efficiently distributes weight, reduces bulk, and does not take up any usable space on the Soldier's load-bearing vest. The SCRB uses state-of-the art, prismatic lithium-ion cell technology to achieve the thin battery profile that can provide power to Soldier C4ISR devices.
The SCRB being developed by the U.S. Army Research Development and Engineering Command started as a Small Business Innovative Research topic, and has transitioned to an Army Technology Objective program called Power for the Dismounted Soldier. "Soldiers we have shown the prototypes to have expressed a desire to use this type of battery, so we will continue to pursue these types of ergonomic power source design concepts," said George Au, one of the SCRB project engineers at the Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center.
The Soldier evaluation phase, run by Project Manager Soldier Warrior, began in November 2010 at Fort Reilly, Kan. Small quantities of SCRB designs from five vendors are slated to participate in a limited user test, powering the NETT Warrior integrated Soldier system.
In addition to evaluating the conformal battery concept, prototype 300-watt fuel cells will be used by Soldiers to recharge the SCRBs during the event.
So how can battery quantities and demand for recharging be reduced' "The form factor benefits the SCRB provides lends itself to being hybridized with a small 25 watt fuel cell that is also being developed," Au said. He projects that a SCRB/Fuel Cell hybrid power source could support a 72 hour mission before recharging is needed.
NEW FUEL CELLS PROVIDE EXPANDED MISSION CAPABILITY
Researchers have developed two fuel cell solutions that will allow Soldiers to run longer missions with more flexibility and greater safety and security.
Engineers from the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center at the Detroit Arsenal in Warren, Mich., have developed, in conjunction with Adaptive Materials Inc., new fuel cell applications for small unmanned ground vehicles, specifically, PackBots. TARDEC is also developing a fuel cell-based auxiliary power unit that fits under armor in an Abrams Main Battle Tank, to run electronics while providing true silent watch capabilities.
Soldiers who once had to halt their mission to replace or recharge batteries in PackBots (used to detect roadside bombs or conduct camera surveillance), will now have a propane-powered fuel cell that extends operational capabilities and dwell times for these critical missions.
The 150-watt fuel cell powering the UGV uses the same kind of propane fuel as the average backyard barbecue. One propane canister has the same mission duration as at least three lithium-ion batteries, which greatly extends a PackBot's mission scenario.
If a Soldier has to recharge a battery, the PackBot mission stops. "The fuel cell allows for five times longer mission lengths and lets the Soldier swap propane tanks quickly, reducing down time," Kevin Centeck, TARDEC engineer, pointed out. "It will enable long persistent stare missions to be conducted and get us closer to meeting the 24-hour mission requirement that was previously not obtainable."
The fuel cell-based APU under development will deliver silent power to vehicle electronics. This APU produces 10 kilowatts of power from JP-8 fuel in the Abrams tank. The fuel cell-based APU takes the burden of providing power for electronics off the main engine, and reduces overall vehicle fuel consumption by not requiring the engine to idle for vehicle power while stationary.
The new APUs have a modular design that can fit a wide variety of space configurations on various vehicles, eventually allowing for common technology solutions across multiple vehicle platforms.
-Dan Desmond and Eric Traver/TARDEC