By Fort Sill Tribune staffNovember 12, 2019
FORT SILL, Oklahoma (Nov. 12, 2019) -- The Maneuver and Fires Integration Experiment 20 (MFIX) ended Nov. 6, at Fort Sill after about three weeks of intense information collection from experiments involving government and defense contractors' laser weapon systems; electronic attack systems; and examined how these systems can be used by maneuver and fires forces in a multi-domain enabled force.
Multiple government and defense organizations converged on Thompson Hill Range Complex during the experiment, said Burt Montague, Fires Battle Lab, chief of Models and Simulations. They demonstrated system capabilities that ranged from the detection to the defeat of aerial and ground threats in designed scenarios called vignettes.
"The vignettes are built to exercise each of the system's capabilities in conjunction with maneuver (ground) brigade, battalion and company operations," Montague said. "We have specific objectives that we're looking at and we're collecting data and analyzing this data to see how it influences the Army's ability to fight."
One vignette looked at how aerial detection-sensors produce targetable data for artillery fire missions and how that is fed to the brigade and battalion systems, Montague said. The systems were also scrutinized to see how well they performed in different environments including heat, cold, and variable winds.
Soldiers, Department of the Army civilians, Air Force personnel, Marines, and contractors came from numerous units to participate in the experiment including Fires Capabilities Development and Integration Directorate, Army Futures Command; 2/82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey.
"This venue allows us to pull in Soldiers that get hands-on use of prototype equipment that the Army has not yet made a decision on to purchase," Montague said.
A couple questions the Soldiers looked at were: What tactics, techniques, and procedures do they use to engage targets? And, how do Soldiers incorporate electronic warfare capabilities with directed-energy and with field artillery options for destroying aerial and ground targets?
"We're exercising the full-kill chain from the sensor to the shooter, and then analyzing that to give feedback to the Army," Montague said.
During MFIX, the Army looked at multiple laser systems such as the Mobile Expeditionary High Energy Laser, or MEHEL for mobile short-range air defense, Montague said. The Air Force and Marine Corps were also involved with the MFIX.
"The Air Force Research Laboratory came out and experimented with several prototype laser, high power microwave, and command and control systems integrated into a tactical network enabling hands-on assessment in an operational setting." he said.
"This (Fort Sill) is an operational training range, not a test facility, and it gives us a look at the future capabilities that can influence the Army, and it provides a good venue for Soldiers to come in and work on the equipment before it is ever fielded," he said. "It will save money for the Army because it also tells us about system capabilities that we won't choose to pursue."
Planning for MFIX 20 began one year ago when the Army provided a request for information to the defense industry, said Montague. Its objectives not only included weapon systems, but also communication capabilities, such as voice and data used with the weapons systems.
MFIX 21 preparation has already started with an initial focus on: data fusion from all domains, network capabilities to facilitate long-range precision fires and air and missile defense, as well as key detect, identify, and defeat capabilities, said Montague.