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Future Force Warrior Passes Major Milestone

Future Force Warrior is the Army's flagship science and technology program
by Staff Writers
Natick, MA (SPX) Sep 08, 2006
The Army's Future Force Warrior (FFW) system is one step closer to being fielded as the Ground Soldier System following a successful demonstration in August of its electronic networking capability.

Developed and managed by the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Center (NSC) with General Dynamics C4 Systems as the lead integrator, FFW is the Army's flagship science and technology program, aimed at integrating "best in class" technologies from the Army's Research, Development, and Engineering Command (RDECOM) enterprise, other government agencies, and industry to enhance the combat effectiveness of the Soldier and Small Combat Unit.

Carol Fitzgerald, program manager for the FFW Advanced Technology Demonstration (ATD), said that last month's success marked a major milestone for the program.

"This was the first of two incremental design phases, in which we have successfully demonstrated network interoperability of the Soldier/Small Combat Unit (SCU) with the future force network," she said.

"This achievement satisfied the program's top level goal for its first incremental design and was completed three months ahead of schedule," she said.

According to Fitzgerald, the FFW Technology Program Office delivered early prototypes of the "Increment 2" design, enabling risk reduction of the system that will continue to be enhanced throughout the remainder of the program, which is scheduled to conclude in late 2007.

To achieve this success, NSC has worked with a number of their sister Centers, including the Communications and Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center (CERDEC).

"Natick participated in CERDEC's Command, Control, Communication, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) On-the-Move (OTM) program," said Fitzgerald. "This allowed us to leverage an important Army field experimentation venue to assess multiple developmental technologies addressing future force network integration, including FFW."

As the lead organization for the FFW ATD, NSC is responsible for the successful integration of all FFW-related technologies developed by government and non-government partners and ensuring that the final product seamlessly incorporates state-of-the-art technologies into one Soldier-friendly package.

"Through NSC's participation in this experiment, the Army has gained valuable Soldier feedback on network/communications capabilities as well as Soldier acceptance feedback regarding the many aspects of the advanced FFW combat ensemble," said Fitzgerald.

The FFW Increment 1 capabilities demonstrated at the OTM included: SCU integration into the future force network via the Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW); demonstration of the Soldier Protective Individual Equipment System (SPIES), an advanced body armor and load carriage system; demonstration of cooperative engagement/networked fires using digital target handoff and Non Line of Sight (NLOS) fire; demonstration of headgear thermal and Image-Intensification (I2) sensor fusion; demonstration of system voice control; and simulation of physiological status monitoring.

In addition, the FFW early Increment 2 capabilities demonstrated at OTM included: demonstration of Leader level Command and Control (C2) via FalconView (leveraged from the US Air Force), system voice control, integrated Class I Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) imagery, look-down display integrated into combat goggles, and advanced power management devices to extend mission duration; demonstration of Soldier level Situational Awareness (SA) leveraged from CERDEC's Command and Control Mobile Intelligent Net-Centric Computing System (C2MINCS) program; Warrior Physiological Status Monitoring (WPSM); and deeper integration of electronics into the FFW combat ensemble.

Fitzgerald said that the FFW is spiraling mature components to enhance the Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier's Land Warrior system, designed for Stryker and current force interoperability.

"FFW will transition to the PEO Soldier in fiscal year 2008 to support the Army Requirements Oversight Council (AROC)-approved Ground Soldier System -- the next version of Land Warrior, which supports Future Combat Systems (FCS) and future force interoperability," she said.

"FFW participation in this major Army experimentation venue helps the Future Combat Systems program address their risks of dismounted Soldier integration into FCS," said Fitzgerald. "The FFW ATD is scheduled to conclude at the end of 2007, with participation in C4ISR OTM 07 and Air Assault Expeditionary Force (AAEF)/Spiral D serving as the culminating events."

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