Germany orders new soldier systems

June 21, 2012 at 3:24 PM
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DUSSELDORF, Germany, June 21 (UPI) -- The Rheinmetall Group is supplying the German army with state-of-the-art soldier systems, initially for troops deploying to Afghanistan.

The value of the contract between Rheinmetall and the Federal Agency for Defense Technology and Procurement wasn't disclosed but the company said the initial order would equip 900 soldiers, or about 90 infantry sections or squads.

The system to be provided is called Gladius. It is comprised of a variety of components -- from electronics to body armor. Rheinmetall describes it as a holistic design approach to meet the challenges of modern warfare.

"Gladius is intended first and foremost to bring the 10-man infantry section and its vehicle into the network-enabled operational loop," the company said. "This network, consisting of reconnaissance, command-and-control components and weapons, enables rapid exchange of information as well as shared situational awareness as the basis for planning and conducting operations."

Through electronic systems, individual soldiers will receives all tactical data, including the position of friendly forces, the mission and system status. Included are a global positioning system and an inertial navigation system and a magnetic compass for positional orientation.

Components of the system's "electronic backbone" are being developed specifically for the German military.

Rheinmetall said Gladius is lighter than previous soldier systems and more comfortable and protective: the modular battle dress uniform, body armor and harness system provide for better concealing of soldiers, including from an enemy using infrared detection devices; the uniform also provides better protection against inclement weather.

Flame retardancy and chem-bio protection are also featured.

Rheinmetall in 2009 had been contracted to develop a demonstrator version of Gladius to supplement the basic Future Soldier system Germany had ordered four years earlier.

Gladius is now ready for fielding.

In a development related to soldier systems, Britain's Cosworth Group is displaying the results of its research in reducing with weight of soldier-worn electronic systems and simplify connectivity.

Cosworth said the approach it took in the research, funded by Britain's Ministry of Defense, was to reduce system complexity and remove exposed cables as well as preventing snagging of equipment.

The result is a flexible power architecture that allows the wearer to tailor the battery weight to match mission profile and also allow for the constant provision of battery status.

Cosworth said it has used a single, high-speed USB2.0 wiring system integrated into the Osprey body armor vest to replace the tangle of cables from portable electronic devices now carried.

"This enables adaptive control of the power flow through the clothing so that batteries can be recharged using power from any available power source, such as vehicle, APU, operating base mains supply or a solar panel," the company said. "Low-priority devices are automatically disconnected when (battery) power is running low.

Cosworth displayed the demonstrator system earlier this week at an exhibition in the London area.

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