Tuesday August 4, 2009
What is it?
The Army's Brigade Combat Team (BCT) modernization strategy continues to put Soldiers at the forefront of weapon system acquisition. Soldiers evaluating equipment and network capabilities early in the development process allows the Army to identify Soldier-driven engineering change needs well in advance of production.
What has the Army done?
Soldier evaluations of equipment in the developmental stage are continuing through the efforts of the Army Evaluation Task Force (AETF). The AETF participates in training, evaluation and test events that help mature Army BCT Modernization hardware and network technology in the system development and demonstration (SDD) phase allowing for changes to be more readily and cost-effectively implemented.
Soldier involvement in development occurs during specialized testing events like the recently completed technical field tests (TFT). During the test, Soldiers participated in a variety of simulated combat exercises and were able to validate early prototypes of battle command and system software. Soldier feedback included everything from comments about necessary platform ergonomics to how to properly display and move information within a battle command network. Last month, AETF Soldiers participated in TFT evaluations where sensor data from unmanned assets were passed through the command chain via the network in a real-time field environment. These technical experiments help to guide design and development changes prior to entering low rate initial production.
What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?
All components being transitioned in accordance with the Army's Brigade Combat Team modernization effort continue to be rigorously evaluated in laboratory and real world environments by combat veteran Soldiers. The network will be evaluated in incremental phases to look at the integration of the battle command interface software and the war fighter machine interface (WMI), which is the tool Soldiers will use to directly control unmanned and unattended systems and to pass important battle space information to all unit echelons. The TFT events underway at White Sands, N.M., will lead to the limited user test (LUT) this fall. The LUT will pave the way for a production decision for the first Army BCT modernization capability package to be fielded to Soldiers of the Infantry Brigade Combat teams.
Why is it important to the Army?
Involving Soldiers in the acquisition process early leads to a truly Soldier-proven end product and reduces the amount of time and money spent on after-production changes.
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