Technology at the service of dismounted soldiers


Takeup of electronics and computing technology in the defense field has grown exponentially since the late 90s. Several factors account for this growth, such as the development of computer and mobile industries for the consumer market and the need to improve military forces’ operational capabilities.

Since the early 2000s, as part of this overall trend, nations around the world have shown an increasing interest in endowing combatants with electronic and computing technology in order to increase battlefield superiority, while improving deployed forces’ survivability chances and efficiency. This has led to what we nowadays understand as Dismounted Soldier Systems (DSS).

Approximately twenty countries have by now developed at least some sort of DSS. The sheer complexity of these systems means that a burgeoning industry has in turn grown up around them, ranging from DSS developers to DSS device manufacturers.

On November 12 GMV held an online seminar to talk about DSSs. First up came a discussion of specific DSS matters, defining the systems and breaking them down into: Electronic, Software, Communication, Sensors, IHM and Textile components, with a nutshell account of the role of each component within the system.

The seminar then briefly looked at state-of-the-art DSSs, showing how every system is different in its own right. There is, however, one common denominator among the most advanced and successful ones:  they are all modular.

After this DSS overview the seminar then homed in on GMVs particular experience in systems of this type, with a roll call of past projects and a more detailed account of the latest two: GOSSRA and SISCAP.

Under the GOSSRA project GMV took part in a consortium made up by nine DSS expert companies to develop the European Reference Architecture for DSS. This project was co-financed between the companies and the EDA (European Defence Agency) and the architecture is now in the process of becoming a STANREC (NATO Standard Recommendation).

The Spanish Dismounted-Soldier System (Sistema Combatiente a Pie: SISCAP) has been developed by the joint venture between GMV and INDRA. In this project GMV has developed a ruggedized computer comprising three CPUs: a MCU, which is responsible for the power management of the full system; an iMX, which is responsible for the wireless communications and video processing; and an Intel ATOM, which is the core processing unit, handling the soldier application, communication SW etc. GMV has also developed the system’s human-machine-interface software, which allows the combatant to access useful information, such as, routes, alarms, location, orders, etc, and also to perform several tasks, such as transmitting video, sending messages, creating tactical elements, etc. This system has been successfully tested in three operational scenarios, officially bringing SISCAP phase one to a close.

Author: Iñigo Barredo

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