LONDON--Most of the big European NATO allies—along with the United States and Canada—are knee deep in developing their own unique soldier modernization programs, using a variety of technologies akin to the U.S. Army’s Nett Warrior suite of wearable, networked sensors and communications gear.
While Nett Warrior continues to experience growing pains, particularly with its bulky size and eight-to-twelve-lb. carrying weight, the Army issued a solicitation in September for a “smartphone or smartphone-like device” that is capable of “commercial-based, integrated computer, display and data-entry capability for dismounted use in either standalone or networked configuration.” In other words, what they have now is too heavy, and too bulky.
One of the companies working on the program is Rockwell Collins, who just this week unveiled a slimmer version of the same kit called the Sentinel integrated soldier system. The Sentinel will look familiar to anyone who has been watching soldier modernization programs—it comes with a helmet-mounted monocle that can drop over a soldiers’ eye, allowing him to access maps, targeting data and pictures and video; and also features a wireless keypad to send messages.
Weighing in at 4kg, (9 lbs.) it is lighter than many other wearable sensor and communications suites, but Bernard Bouillard of the company’s Government Systems division says that the company is looking for the system’s first contract. Since many countries already have their own programs well under way, Bouillard says that the company is pursuing other markets that may not have started their own program. The system’s open architecture allows it to interface with legacy radio systems, and can also be plugged into smart phones and tablets to utilize those capabilities, he said.