LWI - Land Warfare

Rheinmetall wins contract for high-tech infantry system

17th December 2009 - 09:00 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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The German government has contracted with Rheinmetall Defence of Düsseldorf to manufacture a preproduction version of the company’s “Future Soldier – Expanded System”, or IdZ-ES. The order represents a major milestone on the path to equipping the Bundeswehr with this state-of-the-art infantry system. A contract covering the multi-million euro order has now been signed at the Federal Agency for Defence Technology and Procurement (BWB) in Koblenz.

Rheinmetall’s Defence Electronic division has thus scored a significant new success in the process of creating IdZ-ES, the world’s most advanced infantry system.

The “Expanded System” shares the same origins as the basic “Future Soldier” system that preceded it, which the Bundeswehr procured in 2005 as a first step in meeting an urgent operational requirement.

In the face of stiff national and international competition, Rheinmetall won the order to design the “Expanded System” in mid 2006. The new version is intended to eliminate certain deficiencies identified in the basic system, particularly with regard to command and control capabilities and combat effectiveness.

But IdZ-ES is more than a mere add-on or extension of the basic system. Based on an expanded user requirements profile and new findings resulting from extensive trials, it really represents a new system in its own right.

After supplying system demonstrators in 2008 as agreed, knowledge gained during the now-completed risk reduction phase flowed into the specifications for the preproduction system, the contract for which has just been awarded.

Based on this preproduction system, proof of producibility is to be presented at the beginning of 2011, a key prerequisite for the start of full-scale serial production in 2012.

The award of the preproduction contract thus constitutes a significant step toward equipping German infantrymen with a groundbreaking system that will substantially enhance the combat effectiveness of the country’s armed forces.

An outstanding feature of the IdZ-ES is its comprehensive approach, which takes full account of the complex operational requirements army planners now impose on modern soldier systems. IdZ-ES is designed to bring a 10-man infantry section and its vehicle into the command loop of network-enabled operations. This network, consisting of reconnaissance assets, command and control components and fires, enables swift exchange of information, facilitating the creation of a common relevant operational picture, which forms the foundation for planning and executing military operations.

On his helmet display, the soldier receives all the data he needs regarding the tactical situation, the location of friendly forces, his mission and the status of the system, which also includes GPS, an inertial navigation system and a magnetic compass. In terms of design, the system is more ergonomic than ever, featuring reduced weight, greater miniaturization and improved integration of individual components.

IdZ-ES’s modular battle dress, body armour, and carrying system makes sure that soldiers can execute their missions even in extremely difficult operating conditions, providing protection from visual and infrared detection, the effects of the weather, and bacteriological and chemical agents. Flame-retardant materials and protection against insect bites further enhance the overall level of user comfort and safety. Integrated into the system is a compact electronic backpack element, containing the radio, soldier backbone computer, portable C4I computer for the section/squad leader and the GPS module.

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