According to Defense-aerospace.com, in line with the development of the Jaguar and Griffon vehicles ordered in December 2014, the Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) on April 21 awarded Nexter Systems, Renault Trucks Defense and Thales a contract for the first 319 Griffon and the first 20 Jaguar armored vehicles, as part of the Scorpion program for the renewal of the combat capabilities of the Army. This order also includes logistics and training support systems.
In accordance with Jean-Yves Le Drian’s decision to modernize the armored component of the ground forces, the Military Programme Law provides for the delivery of the first Griffon in 2018 and of the first Jaguar in 2020. During the development phase, the workload of the Griffon-Jaguar projects supports nearly a thousand highly-skilled direct jobs. This will increase to more than 1,700 direct jobs during full production, starting in 2020.
Scorpion will renew the army’s first-line combat capabilities around two new armored vehicles, Griffon and Jaguar, and a unique information and communication system, SICS, which will allow the networking of all players in land combat. Scorpion also integrates the acquisition of light armored multi-role vehicles, the upgrade of the Leclerc tank and modern combat training systems using simulation and virtual reality.
Griffon is a multi-role armored vehicle (véhicule blindé multi-rôles, or VBMR) designed to replace the Véhicules de l’Avant Blindé (VAB). It is a 6×6 armored vehicle weighing approximately 25 tonnes and equipped with a remotely-controlled weapons station. It will be available in several versions (troop transport, command post, artillery spotter and medical evacuation).
Jaguar is a 6×6 armored reconnaissance and combat vehicle (engin blindé de reconnaissance et de combat, or EBRC) weighing about 25 tonnes intended to replace the AMX10RC and Sagaie wheeled light tanks as well as the VAB variant armed with HOT missiles (designated Mephisto). It will be equipped with the 40-mm automatic cannon with cased telescopic ammunition jointly developed by France and the UK, the MMP medium-range missile and a remotely-controlled weapon station.
In addition to Nexter Systems, Thales and Renault Trucks Defense, the program also involves Safran for optronics and, for the Jaguar’s weapons fit, CTA International for the 40-mm gun and MBDA for the MMP medium range missile.
Less than 18 months from contract award, the Long Range Discrimination Radar (LRDR), developed by Lockheed Martin, passed Preliminary Design Review (PDR), indicating that detailed design on the radar system can move forward. The radar system will support a layered ballistic missile defense strategy to protect the U.S. homeland from ballistic missile attacks.
The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) in 2015 awarded the $784 million contract to Lockheed Martin to develop, build and test LRDR, and the company is on track on an aggressive schedule to deliver the radar to Clear, Alaska. Lockheed Martin passed PDR by demonstrating both a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 6 and Manufacturing Readiness Level (MRL) 6, putting the team on a path to achieve TRL 7 later this year allowing the program transition to manufacturing. Lockheed Martin utilized a scaled LRDR system to successfully demonstrate Critical Technology Elements (CTEs) in a relevant end to end environment.
During the two-day PDR, representatives from the MDA and the Office of Secretary of Defense, toured Lockheed Martin’s facility to see the LRDR Prototype System and the new Solid State Radar Integration Site, a self-funded test facility that will be utilized to demonstrate TRL 7 and provide significant risk reduction for development of LRDR and future solid state radar systems.
«Lockheed Martin is committed to supporting the nation’s Integrated Air & Missile Defense and homeland defense missions and we are actively investing in research and technologies that will lead to advanced solutions», said Chandra Marshall, LRDR program director, Lockheed Martin. «The Solid State Radar Integration Site will be used to mature, integrate and test the LRDR design and building blocks before we deliver the radar to Alaska. Using this test site will result in significant cost savings and less risk overall».
Similar to Lockheed Martin’s Space Fence radar system, LRDR is a high-powered S-Band radar incorporating solid-state Gallium Nitride (GaN) components, but is additionally capable of discriminating threats at extreme distances using the inherent wideband capability of the hardware coupled with advanced software algorithms.
«We built an open non-proprietary architecture that allows incorporation of the algorithms from small businesses, labs and the government, to provide an advanced discrimination capability for homeland defense», said Tony DeSimone, vice president, engineering and technology, Lockheed Martin Integrated Warfare Systems and Sensors.
LRDR is a key component of the MDA’s Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) and will provide acquisition, tracking and discrimination data to enable separate defense systems to lock on and engage ballistic missile threats, a capability that stems from Lockheed Martin’s decades of experience in creating ballistic missile defense systems for the U.S. and allied governments.
Work on LRDR is primarily performed in New Jersey, Alaska, Alabama, Florida and New York.
As a proven world leader in systems integration and development of air and missile defense systems and technologies, Lockheed Martin delivers high-quality missile defense solutions that protect citizens, critical assets and deployed forces from current and future threats. The company’s experience spans radar and signal processing, missile design and production, hit-to-kill capabilities, infrared seekers, command and control/battle management, and communications, precision pointing and tracking optics, as well as threat-representative targets for missile defense tests.
A Stryker combat vehicle equipped with a 5-kW laser and an array of sensors spent several minutes scanning the horizon for a wayward «enemy» drone.
On a television screen in a nearby tent off Thompson Hill – a range used during the 10-day Maneuver Fires Integrated Experiment here – observers watched the black and white output of those sensors on two flat-screen televisions, April 12. A crosshair was centered on the screen. When what appeared to be a drone entered the frame, the crosshairs locked on to it and followed it.
After a few attempts to destroy the drone with the laser, the drone fell from the sky, crashing to the ground. Not a bullet was fired, and no sounds were made by the system that accomplished the kill – an experimental project called the Mobile High-Energy Laser, or MEHEL.
The MEHEL is just one system the Army is looking at to deal with the growth of inexpensive off-the-shelf unmanned aerial systems that are being seen in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.
2017 MFIX EXPERIMENTS
Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Erts, who serves as the chief of experimentation and wargaming with the Fires Battle Lab at the Fires Center of Excellence here, said the MEHEL was just one of three drone-killing systems under evaluation at the 2017 MFIX, which ran April 3-13.
Also included, he said, was a system called the Anti-UAV Defense System and another branded «Hunter/Killer». There were also command and control systems that provide a common air picture down to platoon and company level, radar systems that can conduct counter-artillery missions, but can also look into the sky, and an unmanned aerial system that can haul supplies to Soldiers on the front lines of combat.
That equipment and the personnel tasked to evaluate it, came to Fort Sill to participate in the 2017 MFIX, which Erts said is a collaboration between the Fires Center of Excellence and the Army Capabilities Integration Center. At MFIX, he said, over 40 industry partners and government leads participated, as well as Soldiers from around the United States.
At this MFIX, the Army was looking to accomplish several goals. At the top of that list was finding better ways to pinpoint targets to put fires on, Erts said.
«We’d like to know where our targets are at», he said. «So, the targets are out on the battlefield somewhere. We’d like to know exactly where they are, so we can use one of our precision munitions to hit it».
Another priority, he said, involved a bit of doctrinal work. Erts said the Army is interested in knowing if traditional fire supporting Soldiers are capable of executing a counter-unmanned aircraft system mission alongside their traditional artillery mission.
«We’re going to see if their plate is too full, or if they can do everything at once», he said. «But so far, it looks like they can do it».
Also on the agenda at the 2017 MFIX was a continued look at the use of high-energy lasers, he said. The MEHEL made its first appearance at MFIX last year, but then with a less-powerful laser.
«We are working with Space and Missile Defense Command, using their MEHEL to engage various targets, to include low-flying UAS», he said. This is the first year, he said, that uniformed Soldiers were actually tasked with using the system to take down actual aerial targets.
«They love the system and they are excited about not only what they can do with it in the air, but what they can do with it on the ground as well», he said.
Finally, Erts said, at this year’s MFIX the Army looked at new ways to deliver supplies to the edge of the battlefield using unmanned aerial systems, rather than convoys.
At the center of that effort was a project called the Joint Tactical Aerial Resupply System, which was also on display at MFIX.
«Let’s say a Soldier is out of ammunition and they need a resupply in an emergency situation», Erts said. «They could launch the UAS, and without putting any Soldiers in harm’s way, they could deliver that box of ammunition to the front lines».
NOT STAR WARS
If the 2017 MFIX had a «star», it was probably the MEHEL. This year, the Stryker configured with that system was marked «MEHEL 2.0», and it sported a 5-kW laser versus last year’s 2-kW laser.
The MEHEL 2.0 includes on-board radar, a second optic, increased laser power, and increased engagement range, Erts said. In addition to doing a «hard kill», such as what was seen when the on-board laser shot a drone out of the sky, the system can also do a «soft kill». That means instead of using a laser to destroy a drone, electronic warfare capabilities can be used to disable the communications link between a drone and its ground control station. Then, Erts said, «we can send artillery after the ground control station».
Also, a possibility after a soft kill on a drone is collecting that drone to gather intelligence information from it.
One thing the MEHEL does not do is make noise, or create any Star Wars-like visual effects. When the laser fires, there’s no sound that comes from the vehicle. And observers can’t actually see the laser emanating from the “beam director” on top of the Stryker, though if they were close enough to the target, they might see a hole being burned into it from the laser’s heat.
ENVISIONING LASER USE
Captain Theo Kleinsorge, who came last month to Fort Sill to participate in the MFIX, serves as the commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2-12 Cavalry at Fort Hood, Texas. During the MFIX, he replicated the role of an infantry company commander inside the MEHEL 2.0-equipped Stryker.
His primary role was to help determine if the MEHEL was something a forward-observer crew could handle, or if the capability needed to be moved somewhere else, such as into the air defense community. He said he was impressed with the MEHEL system, and sees the usefulness of directed-energy weapons elsewhere in the Army.
«It is absolutely a valuable system», Kleinsorge said, even beyond the ability to destroy a UAS. «Directed energy will hopefully very quickly see itself useful in the realm of breaching obstacle belts, in the realm of active defense, of not just shooting down UASs, but the ability to destroy incoming anti-tank missiles, mortars, field artillery rounds, across the whole of what the counter-rocket, artillery, and mortar mission is currently».
One benefit of the MEHEL system is that it doesn’t use ammunition to take down either a UAS or ground target. Practically speaking, the only thing MEHEL needs is fuel. The batteries required to fire the laser can be recharged from generators, which are powered by the same fuel that runs the Stryker’s engines.
«If the entire Army today adopted directed energy and it was able to solve all of our engagement problems, Class V ammunition would no longer exist, and Class III, our fuel, would now be essentially our only logistical requirement for the vehicle to be offensive», Kleinsorge said.
At MFIX, Kleinsorge said, his team took down about 50 actual targets using the laser onboard the MEHEL. Using directed energy to kill a target is something he said that none of the Soldiers involved had ever done before. Now, he said, he’s sold on the idea.
«From my foxhole as a young captain, I say I am excited to see this in the Army», Kleinsorge said. «We were skeptical at first, when we were first briefed we’d be shooting down drones with lasers. And by the end of it, it is absolutely more than feasible. We achieved a success rate well beyond what we expected we’d have. And we are excited to see this go to the next step of the experiment, shooting beyond the horizon, and showing this technology can solve the problem».
Spc. Brandon Sallaway, a fire support specialist and forward observer from Fort Carson, Colorado, was one of the crew that participated in the MFIX and who worked on the crew that piloted the MEHEL.
He said he found the system was easy to use, and easy to learn as well.
«It uses stuff, controllers, that we’re all familiar with», he said. «It takes about half an hour … to figure out the system, and then you’re good to go».
Sallaway was also the first uniformed Soldier to actually use the MEHEL to take down a target. Outside the vehicle, plastered onto the side, are an array of stickers that mark each kill the vehicle has made. He pointed to the one that represents his own kill.
«I’m really excited to be part of a historical event», he said. «And it’s really exciting … to see the Army working on the next generation of tools for us so that we can maintain our edge, the cutting edge. It’s mind-blowing stuff to think you are shooting a laser at something. Sometimes it’s hard to fathom».
UNMANNED AIRBORNE RESUPPLY
At MFIX, Soldiers aimed to do more than just blow up or disable enemy drones. Also on the agenda was using friendly drones to deliver supplies to Soldiers in need, so that manned convoys wouldn’t be needed.
«The problem we are trying to solve with the Joint Tactical Aerial Resupply System (JTARS) is how we conduct assured resupply over the last tactical mile to the point of need», said Captain Dustin Dunbar, with the Combined Arms Support Command, Sustainment Center of Excellence, Fort Lee, Virginia.
The JTARS used at MFIX was a 1/3 scale model «trainer», that really served as an example of what could be done, Dunbar said. The JTARS is meant to be a system, rather than particular vehicle.
At MFIX, the JTARS team demonstrated the capability the Army is after by using the trainer model. They had to move a pair of individual first aid kits from one location to another. They attached a few light-weight kits to a specially-built drone to serve as the payload. Then the drone lifted up off the ground and flew a preplanned route to a target destination, without needing a Soldier to guide it with a controller.
The current demonstration model carries about 5 pounds/2.27 kg. The expectation is that eventually the JTARS could provide the capability to carry up to 600 pounds/272 kg from a rear location to the front lines, where Soldiers might need anything from food to ammunition.
«So, if you can imagine a Stryker is out on the battlefield and it goes down», Dunbar said. «And that field maintenance team is working on it but they need a part from the rear. Rather than taking an entire convoy and going through convoy planning missions and stuff like that and getting on the road, instead you are just loading one piece of equipment – a repair part – within the JTARS and sending it point to point».
Critical to the JTARS concept is reaction time and assured resupply, Dunbar said.
Right now, Dunbar said, the model they have is capable of demonstrating what they want to do, though it might not be the final product. The existence of what they do have allows them to practice delivery of unmanned supplies and also allows them to practice getting access to airspace – something that sustainment units would have to learn to do if they were going to employ JTARS in a theater of operations.
«Your typical sustainment unit within the Army doesn’t have air assets», Dunbar said. «Plus, they lack the personnel, the structure, and the capability to plan, coordinate and deconflict airspace. So, we came out here with the Fires Battle Lab, essentially running the mission command piece of how to conduct this and the best practices to take back to hopefully make it to doctrine».
The U.S. Army’s European Rotational Force will participate in a major exercise alongside NATO allies and partner-nation forces at the Army’s Grafenwoehr and Hohenfels Training Areas in southeastern Germany, April 19 to June 16.
Exercise Combined Resolve VIII will include more than 3,400 participants from 10 nations, including Albania, Finland, Hungary, Kosovo, Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania, Slovenia, Ukraine and the United States.
The U.S. rotational force will consist of the Mission Command Element and 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division from Fort Carson, Colorado, and the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, from Fort Drum New York. These units are designated as part of the regionally allocated forces for U.S. European Command.
The exercise consists of three phases. The first phase includes a combined arms live-fire exercise on the Grafenwoehr Training Area. The second phase will include a command post exercise and the last phase will then include force-on-force maneuver training at the Army’s Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels.
Nearly 1,200 4th Infantry Division Soldiers have relocated from Zagan, Poland to Grafenwoehr, in support of Combined Resolve VIII.
The operations officer for 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Major Jon Anderson said, «Participation in this multinational exercise not only demonstrates our ability to freely move an armored brigade around Europe, it provides the best opportunities to train with as many Allies as possible so that we are collectively stronger as a fighting force».
As technology advances, so too does the need for Soldiers to be able to multitask without forfeiting their primary duty. With new multi-domain platforms, the Army hopes to give Soldiers the equipment to handle the added responsibility.
One such new platform, called «Hunter» and «Killer», is undergoing testing during the 2017 Maneuver Fires Integrated Experiment (MFIX) from April 3 to 13, here at Fort Sill. The vehicles resemble a dune buggy – a large-wheeled vehicle designed for various types of terrain. But the Hunter and Killer are also designed to track aircraft, perform three-dimensional fires targeting and provide other capabilities.
The vehicles are modular by design, meaning developers can take pieces from other systems and combine them on a single platform. The intent is to make parts interchangeable, according to Scott Patton, science and technology strategist for the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC) battlefield operating systems suites team.
However, this system, like many others experimented on at MFIX, is only in its infancy. The Hunter and Killer vehicles were just a concept on a PowerPoint slide back in August and September of 2016, according to Patton, who helped design the Hunter and Killer.
«We came from the last MFIX and a lot of the feedback we got was, ‘Hey we love counter-UAV mobile integrated capabilities, and we like the dismounted kit, but how do you move it?’» Patton said. «’How do you airdrop it? Can we move it somewhere rapidly for the light fighters?’ So, we took that challenge, went back to the lab and came up with a design, and we got the vehicles to them in October».
Patton said the vehicles are designed with units like the 82nd Airborne and 101st Airborne in mind. He hopes the design will prove to be air mobile on helicopters with the ability to be airdropped.
For forward observers, Soldiers who advance to the enemy’s edge and sometimes beyond, technological advances mean new risks and new responsibilities. In addition to their primary duties of gathering intelligence and relaying it back, they may now be called upon to perform precision fires. With the increasing use of unmanned aerial vehicles, they may be asked to intercept UAVs on the battlefield.
With all these challenges in mind, the designers of the Hunter and Killer are experimenting during MFIX 2017 with the platform’s ability to operate with minimal human instruction.
«We want to see how we can automate the software to reduce the task-saturation of the Soldier», Patton said. «We want to reduce their workload. We want [Soldiers] just to be forward observers. If they have to get into these other domains, they can do it for a minute or two, let the software do the thinking for them, and then they go back to their domain».
The platform is meant to fight in multiple domains. For land, the Hunter platform could call precision fires in an automated fashion, and for air Soldiers could use the platform to communicate with an aircraft for support. When performing for maritime, a forward observer could call for an attack from a ship to a target.
The Killer platform adds the ability to fight in the cyber and space domains. A Soldier could request a cyber call to disrupt communications between a UAV and its operator. Soldiers would also be able to call on space-based capabilities.
During MFIX 2017, Patton said, the users and testers of the platform are contractors, but there are plans to put a product in Soldiers’ hands by 2018.
«This is just the first stage of the experiment and it’s also the first stage of the counter-UAV», Patton said. «We also want to give the Soldier options based on rules of engagement. What happens in one theater will be different in another theater, and the rules of engagement may be different. We want to be able to plug those ROEs in – what they can do, what they can automate – and then put the human in the loop when necessary. That’s the objective. We’re not there yet».
Ballistic missiles will soon be easier to detect and defeat. The U.S. Missile Defense Agency has awarded Raytheon Company a $10 million contract modification to continue the development of hardware and software that will add Gallium Nitride, or GaN semiconductor technology to the AN/TPY-2 ballistic missile defense radar.
GaN increases the radar’s range, search capabilities and enables the system to better discriminate between threats and non-threats. Gallium nitride technology also increases the system’s overall reliability while maintaining production and operational costs.
«AN/TPY-2 is already the world’s most capable land-based, X-band, ballistic missile defense radar», said Raytheon’s Dave Gulla, vice president of the Integrated Defense Systems Mission Systems and Sensors business area. «Adding GaN technology modernizes the system so it can defeat all classes of ballistic missiles in extreme operational environments».
The AN/TPY-2 is on pace to be the world’s first transportable, land-based ballistic missile defense radar to use GaN technology.
The AN/TPY-2 radar operates in two modes:
In forward-based mode, the radar is positioned near hostile territory, and detects, tracks and discriminates ballistic missiles shortly after they are launched.
In terminal mode, the radar detects, acquires, tracks and discriminates ballistic missiles as they descend to their target. The terminal mode AN/TPY-2 is the fire control radar for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense ballistic missile defense system, by guiding the THAAD missile to intercept a threat.
Raytheon has led development and innovative use of GaN for 19 years and has invested more than $200 million to get this latest technology into the hands of military members faster and at lower cost and risk. Raytheon has demonstrated the maturity of the technology in a number of ways, including exceeding the reliability requirement for insertion into the production of military systems.
The Turnbull Government has provided approval for the development of a Short-Range Ground Based Air Defence system to improve protection for deployed personnel.
Minister for Defence Senator the Hon Marise Payne said the project is the first step in the development of the Australian Army’s contribution to the Australian Defence Force’s Integrated Air and Missile Defence Program announced in the 2016 Defence White Paper.
The Government will invest up to $2 billion in the system which will provide the inner most layer of Australia’s enhanced integrated air and missile capability. The capability will be operated by the Army’s 16th Air Land Regiment.
«A modern and integrated ground-based air defence system is needed to protect our deployed forces from increasingly sophisticated air threats, both globally and within our region», said Minister Payne.
«Australia’s current short-range capability is 30 years old and due to be retired early next decade. The replacement system will provide improved protection for our deployed servicemen and women».
A Single Supplier Limited Request for Tender will be released to Raytheon Australia in the first half of 2017 to develop its highly successful National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System (NASAMS) for the Australian Defence Force.
Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, said the project would seek to maximize Australian industry content to ensure our defence dollar helps deliver local jobs and economic growth.
«Through a Risk Mitigation Contract, the Government will ensure there are opportunities for Australian industry participation, with direct access to Raytheon Australia for local businesses to showcase their abilities», Mr. Pyne said. «As part of this contract Raytheon will hold workshops across the country to engage with local industry, giving them an opportunity to be part of the supply chain for this project worth up to $2 billion. Defence will collaborate with Raytheon Australia and Canberra-based CEA Technologies to look at integrating the Canberra-based firm’s radar into an upgraded NASAMS. CEA Technologies’ ground breaking phased array radar system has already been incorporated into Australia’s ANZAC class frigates and this project will trial the technology in a land-based role».
Through the Risk Mitigation Activity Defence and Raytheon will also investigate using Thales Australia’s ‘Hawkei’ protected mobility vehicle, manufactured in Bendigo, Victoria, as a potential platform for the system’s missile launchers.
Defence will complete a detailed analysis prior to returning to Government for final consideration in 2019.
Future ground troops may one day have a «third arm» device attached to their protective vests that will hold their weapon, lessening the weight on their arms and freeing up their hands for other tasks.
Weighing less than 4 pounds/1.81 kg, the body-worn weapon mount is currently undergoing testing at the Army Research Laboratory, where researchers hope the lightweight device will ensure Soldiers pack a more powerful punch in combat.
«We’re looking at a new way for the Soldier to interface with the weapon», said Zac Wingard, a mechanical engineer for the lab’s Weapons and Materials Research Directorate. «It is not a product; it is simply a way to study how far we can push the ballistic performance of future weapons without increasing Soldier burden».
Today, some Soldiers are weighed down by combat loads that exceed 110 pounds/49.9 kg. Those heavy loads, he said, may worsen as high energy weapons, which could be larger with heavier ammunition, are developed for future warfare.
«You wind up pushing that Soldier’s combat load up beyond 120 pounds/54.4 kg and they’re already overburdened», he said last week at the Association of the United States Army’s Global Force Symposium. «We now have Soldiers in their late teens and early 20s and they’re getting broken sometimes in training before they see a day in combat».
The goal of the third arm device is to redirect all of a weapon’s weight to the body, making it easier for the Soldier to carry a more lethal firearm.
«With this configuration, right now, we can go up to 20 pounds/9 kg and take all of that weight off of the arms», said Dan Baechle, also a mechanical engineer.
The passive mechanical appendage, which is made out of carbon fiber composite, can be used in the prone position and on both sides of the body.
To test the device, researchers are conducting a pilot with a few Soldiers using an M4 carbine on a firing range at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. As part of the pilot, Baechle said, the Soldiers wear electromyography sensors on their arms and upper body to measure muscle activity to determine if there’s a change in fatigue when shooting with the device.
Researchers also score the Soldiers’ shots to see if there’s an improvement in marksmanship.
«The research and development we’re focused on now is refining this device», Baechle said, adding that they’re also working on it with the lab’s Human Research and Engineering Directorate.
Further research will look at answering questions by the Soldiers, such as if the device will get in the way if they wear a medical kit on the side or a magazine pouch in the front. «Those are all future use issues that we’re going to address in future iterations», he said.
While the M4 is the only weapon currently being tested with the device, Baechle said, they plan to investigate other types of weapons with different calibers, like an M249 squad automatic weapon or M240B machine gun.
«Imagine shoulder-firing either of these without the weight on your arms, and without all the recoil going into your shoulder», he said.
The third arm could also allow Soldiers to use future weapons with more recoil.
«We could potentially look at very high recoil systems that aren’t going to beat up on the Soldier like they normally would», he said.
Researchers also plan to examine the device’s potential applications for various fighting techniques, like shoot-on-the-move, close-quarters combat, or even shooting around corners with augmented reality displays, he said.
Other possible applications for the device include helping a Soldier keep his weapon close by as he cuts through a barrier with a power saw during a breaching operation. A Soldier might also use it to carry a shield as he leads other Soldiers in clearing a room.
Before any field testing takes place, Baechle said, they hope to «ruggedize» the device to ensure it can withstand rigorous activity, such as having a Soldier fall to the ground with it.
«Right now, we’re just doing proof of concept, so we’re not diving into the dirt with our only prototype», he said. «But that’s something we would want to make sure we can do, because Soldiers will be doing that».
Polish and U.S. armored forces dug into their individual battle positions, using the tree line for concealment and awaiting the operation order, tank crew members mentally prepare for a bilateral training event at Range Joanna in Karliki, Poland, March 15.
Two Polish platoons with the 1st Tank Battalion, 10th Armored Cavalry Brigade hosted a combined tank maneuver exercise, integrating a U.S. tank platoon from Dakota Company, 4th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team into the daylong training.
Throughout their nine-month-long deployment, 3rd ABCT will conduct combined training, which provides the opportunity to hone skills and sustain the ability to shoot, move and communicate alongside NATO Allies.
«Building on our tactical techniques sustains combat readiness as a result of having a mutual understanding about maneuver formation procedures», said Staff Sergeant Ian Brown, tank commander in 4th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd ABCT. «If something actually happened, we would be able to come together and develop a maneuver plan faster».
The day was spent training on maneuver formations and developing combined tactical techniques in preparation for upcoming NATO exercise as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve.
A Polish platoon leader acknowledged the unique opportunity to train alongside a U.S. tank platoon and the benefit gained from the experience. «This is the first time that I’ve participated in this kind of exercise and it’s very nice», said Polish 1st Lieutenant Michal Tyjewski, platoon leader in 1st Tank Battalion, 10th ACB. «The most important benefit is the additional experience that we would not be able to have if the U.S. Army weren’t here».
Operation Atlantic Resolve enables NATO Allies to recognize and work through common difficulties to strengthen the bonds between the two nations.
«The most difficult hurdle, in the beginning, was the language barrier», said Tyjewski. «However, all the operation procedures are quite similar so even if the language is a little hard to understand, we can just use our combined procedures to overcome that barrier».
U.S. Army Europe is a leadership laboratory that empowers junior leaders to thrive in a complex operating environment.
Spc. Johnathan Garache, tank crewmen in 4th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd ABCT was one of the front-line troops conducting the maneuver training with the Polish soldiers.
«It’s good to expand your horizon and be more open-minded», Garache said. «It’s a learning experience, so when I become a noncommissioned officer I can pass that knowledge down to my Soldiers, teach them how other nations work and incorporate that into what we do».
U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command team members are laser focused on the future of high energy lasers.
Members of the USASMDC/ARSTRAT Technical Center’s Air and Missile Defense Directorate participated in the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Organization, or JIDO, UAS Hard-Kill Challenge at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, from February 27 to March 3. During the challenge, the Mobile Expeditionary High Energy Laser 2.0, or MEHEL 2.0, demonstrated its counter-unmanned aircraft system, or C-UAS, capability.
«The purpose of the JIDO UAS Hard-Kill Challenge was to assess and look at technology … to do a ‘hard-kill’ shoot down of Group 1 unmanned aircraft systems and inform decision-makers on the current state of technology and how it can deal with single and multiple targets», said Adam Aberle, SMDC High Energy Laser Division technology development and demonstration lead.
MEHEL is a laser testbed on a Stryker-armored fighting vehicle chassis and serves as a platform for research and development. MEHEL 2.0 is an improved version of the original MEHEL with a laser upgraded from 2 kW to 5 kW and other added C-UAS capabilities.
MEHEL 2.0 also has a number of U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development, and Engineering Center counter-unmanned aircraft system mobile integrated capability components to increase the robustness of its capabilities.
«SMDC, working with industry, put together a system that worked, and we realized there were some limitations», Aberle said. «Upgrading from 2 kW to 5 kW, there were some limitations in the system. We learned from the event, and we have plans to correct those deficiencies for future activities».
SMDC’s Tech Center is the Army’s high energy laser science and technology development lead. The Army recognizes that high energy lasers have the potential to be a low-cost, effective complement to kinetic energy to address Rocket, Artillery and Mortar, or RAM, threats; unmanned aircraft systems and cruise missiles.
During the JIDO challenge, MEHEL engaged small, fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicles and quad copters in the first integration of an Army laser weapon onto a combat vehicle.
«Getting everything integrated on the platform, being able to detect the target with the radar and then engage it with the high-energy laser was very successful», Aberle said. «We learned the 5-kW laser was able to defeat the targets. We were able to verify and show that we could put a radar and a laser on a platform so it could self-cue to targets and that was very successful. We look forward to working with industry and continue to mature the technology because we believe this technology is critical to the Army and will be very beneficial once we are able to get the technology mature enough to transition it and field it one day», he added.