The FELIN demonstration team, whose members (left and center) are respectively armed with the FNAS Felinise 5,56-mm rifle and Minimi light machine gun, both have a FAMAS IR thermal sight with a built-in day channel. FRF2, which includes an uncooled thermal duct, a direct vision optical channel and an eye-safe laser range finder
Progress in technology and modernization programs contributed to the emergence of the concept of "soldiers as a system", but the main thing is to maintain its relevance for all types of combat operations.
Works in which an individual soldier was considered as a “system”, coordinating all directions of development and potentially affecting the capabilities of a dismounted soldier (lethality, survivability, combat stability, mobility and C4I - command, control, communications, information gathering and computers), started purposefully within the framework of NATO in the mid 90's. Some developments in the field of equipment "soldiers as a system" began to arrive in the army in small quantities after about a decade, but in the vast majority of cases large-scale deployment remains so far only a desire.
Initially, the implementation of strictly regulated, one-size-fits-all integrated solutions was envisaged, but a sober look and current events show that in the face of a thinking adversary, having a variety of opportunities within the department, and most importantly, the proportionate freedom to vary or adapt these opportunities within it is very significant. As one officer said: “If you create too perfect a system, you will also make it fragile.” Meanwhile, such “soft” factors, such as tactics used and combat training, influence the military success of the squad to no less a degree than any other material means. Rather, it is not integration, but modularity (or, as they say cynically, the possibility of “leave it in the box”) has become the motto of modern soldier systems.
Without affecting the combat experience and individual preferences, the limitations of the human physique made it very careful to focus on the mass of the system. One of the main tasks of all the aforementioned soldier modernization programs is to rid the soldier of the “New Year tree effect”, when the unsystematic addition of new features has steadily led to clumsy, incompatible, duplicate and overloaded equipment.
One can only admire the resilience of veterans of previous conflicts, for example, in the war for the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) in 1982, most of them were forced to carry on 54 kg of luggage consisting of food, batteries, water and ammunition (as well as personal equipment) on long distances and sometimes whole days. As a result, after these events there was a sharp increase in the requirements for physical training for all British ground forces, which were previously prepared only for operations on combat vehicles in central Europe.
Suffice it to say that 54 kg pale before the average 70 kg load carried by a British infantryman from a branch or group during the 36 hour patrol in Afghanistan in 2008. By this time, the increase in the load is “obliged” to high-quality body armor, metal detectors and wearable electronics jamming equipment (the latter was never considered as part of the equipment of a soldier of any country). After hard work to reduce weight, the average load on each British soldier was still 66 kg in 2011, which is very far from the maximum load of one third of the body weight. The same can be said about dismounted soldiers of Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands and the United States, stationed together with the British in southern Afghanistan, and this is now two decades after the concept of "soldiers as a system" was first seriously considered.
There are more 40 modernization programs around the world, and while some of them still have a long way to go, it is instructive to see what happens with the three most famous European programs.
The FELIN program of the French army (Fantassin a Equipements et Liaisons Integres - equipped infantry with integrated interaction) corresponds to the original vision of the concept “soldier as a system”, aimed at a holistic solution including helmet, uniforms, chemical protection, body armor, electronic equipment and weapons. However, the main contractor Sagem made it in its implementation rather modular than integrated. But even for the better, the delivery of the first batch of 1089 serial kits began in 2009, and it became obvious to French users that the “perfect plan” might require changes and improvements.
The report of the French National Assembly in October 2009 said that “the system combines all the necessary parameters of the battle [lethality, protection, interconnection], improves situational awareness, increases the likelihood of detecting and destroying targets. But body armor is now considered obsolete, and the system needs improvements in energy, mass and ergonomics. ”
At the hearings of the Defense Committee of the National Assembly in 2010, the then Chief of the General Staff, General Elrick Irastorza, reported that “since 2007, 116 modifications and operational requirements have been initiated in order to adapt the equipment adopted; they allowed for improvements in the areas of protection, firepower, round-the-clock surveillance, communications, UAVs and, of course, personal equipment. ”
An additional impetus to the changes that the FELIN system again had to undergo was the expanded commitments of the French regular forces in Afghanistan at the beginning of 2008. As a result, at the end of 2008, the first of a series of urgent operational requirements (UOR) was funded in the amount of 116 million euros (151 million dollars). It concerned personal equipment, ballistic protection, additional portable and stationary surveillance systems, anti-explosion protection for machines in combat and supply units, remotely-controlled combat modules and, finally, the fight against IEDs. These needs were not selected on the basis of compatibility with FELIN, they were a mirror image (albeit in a shorter time frame) of British procurement for urgent requirements, determined based on the combat experience of Afghanistan and Iraq in the previous five years.
Since many of the possibilities of urgent requirements, especially those involved in the fight against IEDs, were not considered under the original program, a pragmatic approach to using FELIN as a system was adopted at the theater. The initial performance of FELIN in Afghanistan was generally satisfactory, but not without problems. General Bertrand Rack-Madou, Chief of the General Staff of the French Army, said: “The troops must cope with technical problems if FELIN intervenes in operations. If necessary, the FELIN system can be run in reverse mode. "
In the end, the nominal mass of the FELIN system was determined in 29 kg (including a FAMAS rifle, a sight and a “vest” with an integrated energy source, a computer, a radio station, and improved ballistic protection). A typical ammunition shooter is seven 25-cartridge stores, and as representatives of the army say, the mass that a soldier is expected to carry during standard short-term patrols is currently approximately 40 kg. It is expected that this figure will grow depending on the size of the knapsack needed to carry it, the arming of the soldier, his role in the detachment and the combat situation.
The development of the system will inevitably be consistent with the developments carried out in other programs of the French army. The expected modernization of armored vehicles and communications equipment of the French army under the Scorpion program implies the adaptation of FELIN, which will be necessary so that it will not be “orphaned” when Scorpion begins to enter the development and subsequent procurement phase in the second half of this decade. Outside the FELIN program, additional funds are being explored for improved tracking on the battlefield of personnel and equipment, while an even more effective impetus for making changes would be the potential replacement of the current FNASX FAMAS assault rifle.
A fire support group from the 8 Parachute Regiment of the Marine Corps during an exercise in the UK in February 2012. All soldiers with 5,56-mm FAMAS rifles, a soldier on the left with a holographic sight L-3 EOTech, his neighbor with a sight with increased brightness Sagem FAMAS IL and on the right a soldier with a day / night thermal sight Sagem FAMAS IR. They all wear FELIN vests with a built-in power supply, a RIF radio station and an IHM video display. The rifles of the two soldiers in the center do not have front handles with built-in buttons for controlling the FELIN system, which does not allow them to simply activate their radio stations and aiming systems during combat
Meanwhile, the refusal of the 830 - 862 MHz frequency band currently used for the FELIN soldier radio station (RIF - Reseau d'Information FELIN) in favor of the civilian sector identified the development and testing in 2011 of the year of the 2 frequency Ghz. It should be built into the modified soldier radio station RIF NG, which retained the original form factor and was introduced at the end of 2012 of the year.
An option for vehicles should also be implemented. It will serve as a long-range transmitting hub and as an interface with the combat system of the French army for dispersed personnel networks. In the long run, it is expected that alternative voice and data transmission capabilities in dispersed networks will be provided through a manual dual-band version of the promising programmable Contact radio station of the French army, through which Thales received a contract to develop 2012 in April. Thales also supplies narrow-band backpack and hand-held PR4G VHF radios used by FELIN squad and platoon commanders to maintain communications through the company level network.
In November, the 2011 of the 8 th Marine Corps Parachute Regiment (8e RPIM) became the fifth regiment to receive FELIN kits, before it they received the 1 RI (in December 2011 of the year it became the first deployed with FELIN systems in Afghanistan), 13 th BCA, 16 th sun and 35 th RI. The sixth regiment, which should receive FELIN (2-th REI), is part of the Foreign Legion, followed by its own sets and the seventh regiment. To date, Sagem has transferred over 7000 kits to troops.
The company still aims to supply a total of 22588 kits (at an estimated cost per unit of 36000 euros) by the end of 2015, the pace of deployment was accelerated at the end of 2011 to 4 infantry regiments per year. All kits are already contracted, a second production order for the 5054 kit was placed in April 2008 of the year, followed by the third order for the remaining 16454 kit in November 2009 of the year. This number, which corresponds to the base specification approved three years ago, includes kits for combat support personnel (from artillery, reconnaissance and engineering units), that is, for those with whom infantry on the battlefield are expected to interact.
The soldiers of the German army, equipped with a set of IdZ-BS development company Cassidian. It is likely that he will remain in service until the 2018 year, when he will be gradually replaced by a lighter system IdZ-ES
The initial test model of the Rheinmetall IdZ-ES kit is being tested in hot climates. In the photo, a machine gunner armed with an 5,56-mm MG4 light machine gun with an AIM WBZG thermal sight weighing 3 kg. The solid satchel is supported by an adjustable discharge system, which is part of the IdZ-ES
An idealized representation of German army soldiers wearing IdZ-ES shooters, but without backpacks. On the right, the Puma BMP is visible with which the IdZ-ES system will interact in order to charge the batteries and update the data. A soldier in the center is armed with a G36 rifle, on the left is a soldier with a MG4 light machine gun, which has system control buttons on the front handle and butt.
The German IdZ soldier-like system (Infanterist der Zukunft - Infantryman of the Future), the first fully-production version of which began to enter the army in 2005, was another one of those systems that from the very beginning seemed like an integrated integrated solution "from socks to sensors. The entry into service of the initial version of the Basissystem (IdZ-BS), developed by EADS / Cassidian, was preceded by extended practical tests (Kosovo in 2002 and Afghanistan in 2004) using commercial lots of IdZ ESB pre-production sets (German - Einsatzbedingter Sofort Bedarf).
Despite the long-term development and the benefits of real-world testing, the mass, cost, and ergonomic characteristics of the final IdZ-BS system have received far from universal approval in the face of new operations or in the feedback of new users. During 2012, the German defense organization took practical steps to begin replacing it with a new system, which included the gained experience so that the IdZ-BS could be replaced by the end of the decade with the upgraded “erweitertes System - Extended System” (IdZ-ES). Rheinmetall took over the responsibility for this program in accordance with the contract in 2006 and chose a revised, modular design approach to maximize flexibility in tasks and capabilities.
After a series of prototype tests during the development phase, the IdZ-ES acceptance tests started in July of the 2011 of the year and officially completed in March of the 2012 of the year were completed. This stage was carried out using the first pre-production separation system (in terms of the German army, a set of 10 kits); It began with an assessment of the mechanized infantry compatibility with the machines and integration with the battle management system. The system was later tested in a hot climate in Spain, tested in a cold climate in the Austrian Alps and northern Sweden, additional tests on machines in a German infantry school at the end of 2011, and finally, logistic evaluation.
The basic IdZ-ES kit currently weighs 23 kg and includes underwear, a uniform, a cargo transfer system, a Class 1 ballistic protection, a helmet with a digital compass, a helmet display, night vision goggles, a personal radio station, a main computer, a handheld display, batteries and etc., does not include weapons, ammunition or water.
A spokesperson for the program said that for the shooter 200, fully ready for deployment and carrying cartridges, the kit typically weighs 38 kg. However, this is on 14 kg less weight of equipment, which is forced to wear the same shooter, equipped at the same level using the IdZ-BS version. The component for carrying cargo in IdZ-ES supports several different knapsack configurations (the largest for paratroopers with a volume of 110 liters), and, according to an official representative, the maximum weight provided “carry everything”, however, potentially approaches 72 kg.
Meanwhile, in order to meet the operational needs of the German army, it was decided to make a request for additional IdZ-BS kits and to empower the earlier project. In addition to its physical compatibility with a wide variety of machines, one of the main advantages of the following IdZ-ES variant (at various times also hesitantly called IdZ 2 and now known as “Gladius”) was that its C4I component could work with the onboard BMS ( combat) and command systems of the highest echelons. However, the IdZ-BS has also been upgraded to date by activating the EADS company interface, which allows data exchange directly with the command information system Fuhrungsinformationssystem (FuInfoSys) -Heer (or FIS-H BMS) installed on the combat vehicles of the German army. These include wheeled armored personnel carriers and commander Boxer vehicles, which began to be deployed in Afghanistan in July 2011. The fact that EADS is also the main FIS-H contractor will help resolve any compatibility issues.
Based on the parallel research and demonstration activities conducted by Rheinmetall and EADS, at the end of 2011, permission was also given to develop and enter into a contract for an analog communication channel for the IdZ-ES system (Gladius). The resulting open interface is not only compatible with the Boxer onboard FIS-H system and other platforms, such as Puma, Fuchs and Dingo, but also allows IdZ-ES and BS options to "communicate" directly with each other, opening up the possibility of mixed operations of squads and platoons with IdZ-BS / ES systems.
The BS interface has been in operation in Afghanistan for more than six months, and the development of the IdZ-ES interface was completed in the middle of the 2012 year, which allowed for final testing and integration before the delivery of the first industrial batch of ES. At the same time, a corresponding update of the software for BMS Boxers machines in Afghanistan was carried out. According to sources in the German Ministry of Defense, currently there are 17 of these machines, and it is expected that another 80 of machines (Fuchs and Dingo) will be equipped with a FIS-H system.
Like the IdZ-BS, the Gladius kit (IdZ-ES) includes the soldier radio station Thales SOLAR 400 EG UHF. On Boxer machines in Afghanistan, it was complemented by the SOLAR 400 V transport option, which extends the separation distance of the department and provides a data channel to the onboard BMS. Branch commanders also carry a VHF radio station (currently handheld / backpack-type voice transceiver SEM52 / 70) for long-distance communication between branches and platoons, but it is intended to replace it with a new handheld voice and data radio station in the near future, preferably with a range of around 7 km
Currently, Harris RF-7800S Falcon III Secure Personal Radio (SPR), Thales PR4G F @ stnet and other systems offered by Elbit / Telefunken RACOMS and Selex are fighting. In the long term, it is assumed that the commander’s radio station will be replaced by a two-way (V / UHF bands) handheld device with platoon and branch communication functions, under which Thales Deutschland received a development contract at the end of 2009 for the development program of the German Armed Forces SVFuA (Streitkraftegemeinsame Verbundfahige Funkgerateausstattung).
At the time when the IdZ-ES development program was launched, Rheinmetall representatives reported a total number of approximately 1000 systems, although most recently the basic needs were identified in 243 units. However, a high rank in the government program reported that in the light of budgetary constraints, the approved final figure was “squeezed” only up to 90 of IdZ-ES Gladius systems. They are purchased in batches of 30 systems, coinciding with the needs of interchangeable contingents or rotating units in Afghanistan. The first 30 systems, the contract was delivered in November and December 2012, the training was conducted in January before the first operational deployment in Afghanistan in November 2013.
Two batches of IdZ-ES Gladius systems were delivered during the 2013 year. With three active contingents, it is possible to use the third batch of IdZ-ES Gladius for training and education, while the systems from the first batch will be refined after their first operational deployment. At present, planning government agencies do not allow themselves to look beyond the immediate needs of the Afghan theater, although in principle the initial needs of the Bundeswehr remain unchanged. Meanwhile, 257 systems IdZ-BS (2570 kits) were obtained in the period from 2004 to 2010 years and 40 systems were ordered in March 2011 year, while it was decided to leave the early version in service with at least 2016 - 2018 of the year.
The reality of patrols in the Helmand province of Afghanistan: soldiers from the British 20 armored brigade disembark from a Chinook helicopter. You can see the various assault accessories, portable silencers of IEDs and metal detectors, which were not previously included in the equipment of the dismounted soldier
To be continued