By Kathleen Edwards, AMRDEC Public AffairsFebruary 10, 2017
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- A technology created by Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center's Software Engineering Directorate to increase Soldier readiness was recently merged with a U.S Navy technology to expand U.S Marine Corps targeting efforts and capabilities.
The U.S. Marine Corps requested AMRDEC and the U.S. Navy to combine two proven science and technology initiatives as the solution for the Target Handoff System Version 2.
AMRDEC collaborated with Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division at China Lake, Calif. to create THS V2 by merging two existing technologies -- Maneuver, Aviation and Fires Integrated Application, developed by the Battle Operations Software Suite program, and Kinetic Integration Lightweight Software Individual Tactical Combat Handheld, developed by the Digital Precision Strike Suite program.
MAFIA supplied digital ground fires messaging and communication capabilities to build upon KILSWITCH's close air support, imagery and mapping capabilities. These combined talents built an equipment suite that supports maneuver planning, fires planning, precision targeting, route planning and navigation.
The THS V2 software was loaded on an Android tablet, a familiar operating system, to ensure ease of use while reducing training time. The device also provides a reduction in size and weight over the current system, allowing Marines to easily transport. THS V2 has the capability to acquire targets in day and night and all weather conditions.
THS V2 uses tactical data systems and current communication equipment to acquire target information from sensors, such as laser range finders and to pass the information to air and ground weapon platforms through verbal or digital messaging. It directly interfaces with combat network radios and generates messages accessible to any participating agency involved in the delivery or coordination of fire support activities.
"The first step was to identify personnel to dedicate solely to this effort," said Brian Kornett, THS V2 project lead. "Once the group was assembled with BOSS team members they began work on developing. The system requirements were known but how that translated into specific tasks that could be split between the Army and Navy teams meant creating a new architecture. BOSS team member, Robert "Bear" Marples, stepped forward and developed the architecture that has enabled software engineers, seated at three separate locations across the country, to successfully merge two distinct and complex software applications."
Every six weeks the BOSS team travelled to California for integration events that tested the software under development. These events allowed them to compile the separately developed libraries into the main THS application and test both teams' work toward the comprehensive list of system requirements.
During every step the Marine program office had access to an online software development tracking tool where they could see the status of the project. Representatives from the program office also actively participated in integration events, by operating the software under evaluation, so they could approve or adjust the capability in real time. This not only allowed the BOSS team to be very transparent, but it also enabled the Marines to be very involved and both parties to have open communication.
"It was important that the BOSS team could give feedback in real time. In the end it really helped us all work well together," said Michael Murray, BOSS program lead.
In Oct. 2016, THS V2 went through a Field User Evaluation at Bold Quest 16.2 in Savannah, Ga. During the evaluation, Marines assessed the system's ease of use; many of their recommendations were implemented.
THS V2 will undergo further testing prior to fielding in Apr. 2017. Initially, the Marine Corps will field 122 kits to the fleet and follow up with a more expansive fielding later in the year. The BOSS team has already been approved to help with the sustainment of this technology.
The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development, and Engineering Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities that provide decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the Joint warfighter and the nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.