By Sean Kimmons, Army News ServiceJuly 18, 2019
JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. -- After being one of the first Soldiers to jump out of an aircraft with the new lightweight, easy-to-use Integrated Tactical Network, Staff Sgt. Jason Roseberry said it will be a game-changer.
A project headed by the Network Cross-Functional Team, the ITN incorporates upgraded communications technology, such as radios with advanced networking waveforms and a smartphone device for better situational awareness.
Donned in a full combat kit adorned with ITN components, Roseberry discussed the network Tuesday during Army Futures Command's media day here. The event displayed several of the command's projects that its CFTs are developing as AFC nears full-operational capability on July 31.
Roseberry, an intelligence analyst with the 82nd Airborne Division, tested the network at the Joint Readiness Training Center in Louisiana.
"I'm not someone they just grabbed as a test dummy to bring up here," he said. "I actually jumped with this kit into JRTC and used it. I absolutely didn't have to be here, but I believe in it."
Three Security Forces Assistance Brigades are now equipped with ITN, and there are plans to start fielding other brigade combat teams in 2021 after a 10-month assessment with 82nd Airborne Soldiers.
"We want to make sure we're not going to field them something that they're not going to use or it's going to be too complex," said Maj. Gen. Peter Gallagher, director of the Network CFT. "To the Soldier, simplicity matters."
For Roseberry, it fits the bill.
Before, the staff sergeant said his radio gear and batteries would weigh 20 to 30 pounds -- the ITN components weigh significantly less. The ITN also allows commanders to operate in both a secret or secured but unclassified network, which enables them to choose different communications options depending on their environment.
"For the first time, I was able to get an operations and intel net. That was huge for me," he said. "I actually had a voice channel dedicated to my warfighting function, which was pretty cool."
And if his Soldiers get separated after parachuting onto a drop zone, he can easily find them on the smartphone device attached to his chest that populates their locations.
"I know exactly where they're at and I can send them a text message or I can hit them up over the radio," he said.
FUTURE VERTICAL LIFT
A few feet from Roseberry in the same conference room, the director of the Future Vertical Lift CFT highlighted his team's efforts while standing next to a display model of a Spike anti-tank guided missile.
Brig. Gen. Walter Rugen said the non-line of sight missile is slated to be fired next month from an Apache AH-64E during a demonstration at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona.
He also mentioned the Air-Launched, Tube-Integrated Unmanned System, or ALTIUS. The system has already been test fired from a UH-60 Black Hawk at Yakima Training Center in Washington, he said, and low-altitude shots are scheduled for this summer at Yuma.
The general foresees the system to carry different payloads, such as communications, electronic warfare or kinetic, that can penetrate through layers of anti-access/area denial capabilities being developed by near-peer threats.
"Ultimately, we want to find, fix and finish our pacing threats for Army aviation," he said. "As we knock those down, we feel like we'll free up the freedom of maneuver that we need to fight and win."
LONG-RANGE PRECISION FIRES
At the next table over, Col. John Rafferty, director of the Long-Range Precision Fires CFT, spoke about the Extended Range Cannon Artillery prototype, which a vendor was recently awarded a $45 million contract to develop.
The prototype plans to more than double the range of the current M109 Paladin self-propelled howitzer. Early technology demonstrations with a 30-foot-long gun tube recorded a 155 mm artillery round shot over 70 kilometers. The range of the current Paladin system's 20-foot-long tube is about 30 kilometers, he said.
"We're really getting some amazing results with our engineers," he said.
The first ERCA prototype is expected to be delivered in October for testing at Yuma. At that time, Soldiers will also get their hands on the howitzer to provide input.
"We want them there to climb around on it and get that initial feedback while we're still so early in the prototyping," he said. "If something doesn't make sense for them, then we ought to know."