FORT PICKETT, VA (November 19, 2019) - The Army plans to modernize the Soldier with a new heads up display that uses augmented reality to help them train, rehearse and fight.
When optimized, the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) is a single platform that features advanced goggles connected to a body wearable computer, or puck, to perform multiple situational awareness functions, including a simulated training environment (STE), advanced night vision, target acquisition and language translation for enhanced situational awareness.
Behind the scenes, the Army's tactical network is boosting this capability by ensuring communications flow both to and from the Soldier in any combat environment.
"This is all about achieving overmatch, which is feasible by ensuring our tactical network supports high-tech capabilities such as IVAS," said Col. Garth Winterle, Project Manager for Tactical Radios, assigned to the Program Executive Office for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T), which is charged with integrating network enhancements with the IVAS program.
The Army is using horizontal integration between the network and IVAS aligned to a series of Soldier Touch Points (STPs) to rapidly mature prototypes into mature capabilities. IVAS is currently under STP 2, which is building upon the baseline concept and now inserting network capabilities when available.
IVAS can operate in three network environments: jammed, contested and permissive. The puck body device allows for continued communications and some functionality in network-denied environments, including pre-loaded mission packs, navigation, fused thermal or low light night vision and simple language translation, but the capabilities increase with network connectivity.
"IVAS is not network dependent, rather it is network enhanced," Winterle said.
To enable network connectivity, network programs will provide new single channel small form factor radios that link squad and platoon leaders together to share internal position location information, voice and synchronization data. These radios are coupled with an integrated network enhancement kit called the Bloodhound, which is a network communications, gateway and data management kit currently integrated onto an MRZR light vehicle, but it is platform agnostic.
"Close combat commanders can employ enhanced network capabilities as they are available when and where they need them," said Maj. Andrew Miller, PEO C3T IVAS Network technical lead. "It enables Soldiers to push and pull data from their IVAS devices."
In conjunction with Bloodhound, IVAS also features advanced tactical service cloud and data management capabilities to provide an advanced mission planning pack, 3-D mapping and advanced artificial intelligence for face recognition. It also includes both written and spoken language translation and synthetic training for complete command and control capabilities.
Future IVAS network capabilities include a-synchronized data synchronization over narrow band SATCOM and up to 75% reduction in payload size, which will allow for network kit integration into combat and tactical vehicle platforms. Integration in Stryker and Bradley platforms is already underway as part of DevOps.
In July 2020, STP 3 twill fully integrate the ITN with IVAS, which will be evaluated by the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.
Throughout the IVAS development process, developers are adhering to the Developmental Operations (DevOps) process, which places Army engineers and Soldiers side-by-side to evaluate vendor-provided radios as part of the final radio configuration.
"We will manage this radio procurement as part of our baseline, meaning we can use these radios not just as IVAS components, but for additional capabilities that only require a single channel, low cost option," Winterle said. "As with many of our tactical network and radio capabilities, including the ITN, DevOps allows us not to be locked into a single vendor at any time because we are continuously assessing the technologies and basing our acquisition on current needs."
The U.S. Army Project Manager Tactical Network is assigned to Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications-Tactical, which develops, acquires, fields and supports the Army's mission command network to ensure force readiness. This critical Army modernization priority delivers tactical communications so commanders and Soldiers can stay connected and informed at all times, even in the most austere and hostile environments. PEO C3T is delivering the network to regions around the globe, enabling high-speed, high-capacity voice, data and video communications to a user base that includes the Army's joint, coalition and other mission partners.