DB - Digital Battlespace

US trials advanced tech for denied urban and subterranean warfare

10th September 2018 - 12:00 GMT | by Andrew White in London

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An undisclosed US DoD agency conducted a training exercise during the first week of September designed to consider next-generation technologies capable of supporting small unit teams operating in austere conditions.

The multi-day exercise, which was conducted at a ‘Top 5 City’ in the Continential US (CONUS) and focused on ‘Dense Urban and Subterranean Operations’, witnessed the participation of multiple industry partners from across the C4ISTAR community. 

Industry partners were tasked with the provision of tactical communications; battle management system; and intelligence assets to support the exercise, sources confirmed.

Supporting technology included Silvus Technologies’ Multiple Input/Multiple Output (MIMO) Streamcaster mobile ad hoc network (MANET) radios, designed to generate and maintain a self-forming and self-healing network in tunnels and high-rise urban environments.

The MANET network was supported by Blueforce Development Corporation’s Tactical battle management system (BMS) software which was used by commanders and ground force elements to monitor live full motion video streams; biometric data of participating troops; and situation awareness information gathered from across the area of interest.

The exercise saw operators from the undisclosed agency wearing MOHOC helmet and  body-worn tactical camera systems with FMV feeds distributed across the battle space by terrestrial circuits as well as Silvus Technologies’ MANET connection.

Interior tracking of operators inside buildings and throughout high-angle urban areas was achieved through the integration of inertial navigation sensors capable of transmitting live geo-intelligence data in GPS-denied locations. Technology was provided by Robotic Research and TRX.

The exercise also saw local and cloud-based cognitive services as well as artificial intelligence made available to commanders and operators on the ground, providing personnel with support in decision-making processes through machine learning algorithms.

All information generated across the battlespace was fed back into Blueforce’s BMS software which was displayed on multiple end user devices including Samsung Electronics America’s S9 smartphone. This included the display of current operator positions, generated through motion-based accelerometers and gyroscopes.

Physiological monitoring and situation awareness from the battlespace was also available to view on the wrists of operators wearing Samsung’s GEAR S3 smartwatch.

Finally, the exercise also witnessed the integration of Wilcox Industries’ Patriot Hybrid Life Support System which allows operators to survive in CBRN environments for up to eight times longer than before, according to company literature. The manpack system allows operators to choose between assisted filtered air or open-circuit breathing gas.

CBRN requirements were also met by Altair’s 5X Multi-gas Detector and Thermo Fisher Scientific and GammaPix radiation detection systems.

The completion of the exercise by the undisclosed DoD agency comes at a time when armed forces and particularly the special operations community, continue to focus heavily upon the execution of operations in contested and congested environments where conventional radio frequency and GPS signals can be threatened due to physical obstacles as well as enemy electronic warfare threats. 

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