Digital Battlespace

Future soldier ensembles set for German Army

1st November 2019 - 12:00 GMT | by Andrew White in London


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Rheinmetall is preparing to support the German Army’s lead role in the NATO Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) deployment in 2023 with a tranche of future soldier ensembles Shephard understands.

The German government is currently in the process of ratifying a contract which will see Rheinmetall providing a total of 400 upgraded variants of the IDZ-ES future soldier ensemble as well as additional battle management systems (BMS) integrated on board Puma infantry fighting vehicles to support C2 requirements.

NATO’s VJTF comprises a multi-national and joint force, including land, air and maritime components as well as special operations forces, which can be tasked to deploy wherever necessary at short notice.

It is understood that a deal to deliver the next-generation capabilities to the army was agreed in August, with solutions expected to be delivered by the Projekt System & Management - Rheinmetall’s joint venture with Krauss-Maffei Wegmann.

Upgraded IDZ-ES ensembles will feature Elbit Systems’ PNR-1000 software defined radio as well as Getac’s MX50 end user device or a smartphone device, either of which can be updated with Rheinmetall’s TACNET BMS software. Additional features include a USB hub as well as options for acoustic gunshot detection systems and FLIR’s Black Hornet unmanned aerial vehicle.

Upgraded ensembles will not include Rheinmetall’s ‘Electronic Back’ design which had seen a central power unit integrated into the body armour plate carrier of soldiers. Following further evaluation of this particular design, Rheinmetall selected to discontinue the model following end user feedback concerning its compatibility with backpacks and ease of extraction from armoured vehicles.

The VJTF 2023 roadmap will also include the integration of IDZ-ES ensembles with Rohde & Schwarz communications solutions including Puma SVFUA software defined radios.

A Rheinmetall spokesperson confirmed to Shephard that the ‘improved communication between Puma crews and the dismounted infantry section will result in continuously updated and uniform common operational pictures providing a command and control capability that extends from the company commander to the individual rifleman on the ground’.

A technology demonstrator of the upgraded IDZ-ES ensemble was displayed at the RüNet conference in Koblenz on 4 September where Rheinmetall displayed a mock up of the IDZ-Advanced ensemble it will provide to the German Army in support of VJTF 2023.

The display featured a pair of ensembles (pictured) in both woodland and desert camouflage patterns with each mock up featuring a chest-mounted EUD, attached to the front of a body armour plate carrier. The desert camouflage mock-up also included a heads-up display attached to combat helmets featuring rail adaptor systems for the addition of tactical accessories.

Today, a total of 68 platoons in the German Army are already equipped with IDZ-ES variants, designed to enhance the survivability, lethality and situational awareness of small unit teams operating at the tactical edge where communications, command and control remain critical to mission effectiveness.

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