Battlefield technologies—from combat management systems and vehicle power generation to cyber-hardened network computing for C4I—are at the top of the Army’s modernization priorities. Leonardo DRS has been one of the Army’s best providers of these systems, with recent contract awards from the Army and foreign allies.
Leonardo DRS received another production delivery order in June 2020 for the Army’s mission command computing system called the Mounted Family of Computer Systems II (MFoCS II). Worth $104 million, Leonardo DRS is in the second year of a 10-year contract supporting the Army’s Mounted Computing Environment. Around the same time, the company reported that it has already delivered 70,000 of the MFoCS tactical computing units for ground combat vehicles and command post operations.
In October 2020, the company announced that it was awarded a $44 million contract to provide advanced situational awareness hardware and software for an allied Middle East nation. Under the contract, the Leonardo DRS Land Electronics business unit will provide a significant number of tactical mission systems to be installed into a range of vehicles across a number of brigades. At the core of the architecture is the latest version of the Leonardo DRS voice, data and video tactical server, data distribution unit - block 4 (DDU-4), an upgraded digital vehicle intercom system, and new rugged multi-touch commander’s display.
In the following sections, Bill Guyan, senior vice president and general manager of Leonardo DRS Land Electronics business, provides updates on Army combat networking modernization and onboard power generation.
The MFoCS program is run by PM Mission Command under PEO Command, Control and Communications–Tactical (PEO C3T). Leonardo DRS delivers the rugged platform computing system and display hardware, which is installed on all the vehicles in the Army and Marine Corps inventory to run what is currently the software for battle management called Joint Battle Command—Platform (JBC-P). The company is currently delivering 10,000 to 15,000 MFoCS systems per year on the program called MFoCS II, and this is the second full year of production. Under the predecessor program known simply as MFoCS, the company delivered about 51,000 systems to the Army.
“We’ve been pleased to be the provider of the Battle Command Computing systems used by the Army, first on the FBCB2 program that supported Blue Force tracking and now on MFoCS where we're approaching our 20th year of delivering systems to the Army,” said Guyan. “These bedrock systems are at the real edge of the network because they're located in combat platforms where the network can be stressed.
“It's important that our systems, because they're mission critical, that they are reliable, dependable, and trusted by soldiers. It's also important that as the network evolves that these systems can enable continued enhancement and future capabilities.”
Leonardo DRS is working to push tactical power from within vehicles, eliminating the need for towing bulky generators and consolidating the logistical footprint. With new technology, military vehicles can be transformed into mobile power generators for ground operations, with minimal changes that don’t affect the performance of the vehicle. The result is mission-assured power generated from the vehicle’s powertrain. This enables greater range extension and freedom of maneuver while recharging mission equipment.
“We're very proud of the capability we have, which we think is enabling and transformative, called TITAN On-Board Vehicle Power,” said Guyan. “This is a capability that we've developed with our partner at Allison Transmission, which by the way, is the maker of the transmission used in 90 percent of Army platforms. Together we've developed a way to use high-density magnets to create a power-generation system built around the spinning of the transmission. It creates power of 120 kilowatts or more that can be used for new technologies and advanced mission packages. It can also be exported off the platform to be used by other technologies or other systems.”
This year, Leonardo DRS delivered embedded onboard vehicle power for the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) for the Command Post Integrated Infrastructure (CPI2) program under PEO C3T. Leonardo DRS is also delivering FMTV and HEMMT (Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck) platforms with integrated, On-Board Vehicle Power for the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) program.
These vehicle power systems provide not only extra energy needed for next-generation missions, but also enhanced mobility and transportability for expeditionary systems, since it takes up less space to transport by ship or aircraft.
“And because you're not towing a generator, you have increased mobility and the ability to move more quickly, which often is directly linked to survivability,” said Guyan. “Think, for example, about a THAAD system that might have to tow a generator behind it as it climbs up on the hill in Korea or across sand dunes in the desert. You'd much rather have the extra power you need embedded in your system so that you have full mobility and a better chance of surviving on the battlefield.”
Project Convergence is what the Army calls a “campaign of learning” designed to further integrate the Army into the joint force through the Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) concept, which will collect and fuses data for use by all military services. Leonardo DRS believes it can provide valuable contributions for JADC2.
“One of the things that we think we need to do is help as a partner to provide existing systems to the Army that have future-proof capabilities and can also help the Army to connect dots across systems, which is really at the heart of their vision for Project Convergence,” said Guyan. “We believe that the systems we're delivering such as the Mounted Family of Computer Systems and On-Board Vehicle Power enable this vision of Project Convergence greater operability and reliability at the edge of the network. It also allows for creation of more tightly integrated and converged capabilities on each platform, because the extra capability of our computers allows for sensor fusion, capabilities like Assured Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (APNT), and multiple operating systems and applications that can operate simultaneously in our virtual machine architecture.”