Complex Battlefields Need Sophisticated Networking Systems That Are Easy to Use

Complex Battlefields Need Sophisticated Networking Systems That Are Easy to Use

Winter 2018/2019

Mission command systems are at the heart of a military’s combat operations core. The complex battlefields of today require integrated network systems that can easily decipher a host of threats, enemy positions and location of friendly troops, all while giving commanders the best situational awareness available.

One of the leaders in this space, Leonardo DRS is redefining the way ground vehicles and command post mission systems operate in the toughest tactical environment.

Combat Computing Systems

Developed through years of combat experience and continuous technology evolution, Leonardo DRS’s integrated networking systems allows commanders and platform operators to control and interface with weapons & sensors, communications equipment, mission command applications, navigational devices, and platform vetronics from any workstation on or off the platform or command post.

All of the voice, video and data from these platform devices can be connected across the tactical network with adjacent platforms, remote or mobile command posts, higher headquarters and, when desired, with coalition partners.

The system is designed to be agnostic to the network and applications allowing the end users to adopt best-of-breed solutions in terms of communications and data applications such as the Battle Management System (BMS).

At the heart of this system is Leonardo DRS’s range of ultra-rugged, MIL-STD qualified hardware and software solutions. It is built from the experience and continuous improvement derived from supplying more than 300,000 platform computing and networking devices for the U.S. and International military across a wide range of application types. DRS’s most recent success is the award of the US Army’s MFoCS (Mounted Family of Computer Systems) II by the US Army. The U.S. Military has made substantial investments in mission-critical mounted computing hardware and software, beginning with the Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below/Blue Force Tracking programs (FBCB2/BFT) in the mid-90s. DRS has been involved in delivering this capability for over 20 years and this latest contract will extend this association for up to 10 more years. A contract valued at over $800M, this latest iteration of DRS tactical computing capability comes with a Cyber hardened core that will enable end users to build trusted systems to protect against the fast-developing cyber threat.

Supporting Key Combat Apps

While designed to be plug-and-play for any number of platforms and operational systems, the Leonardo DRS system already supports Line of Sight (LOS) and Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS) communications for a full-circle ability to reach mobile, airborne or dismounted troops, while also supporting Tactical LTE and Mobile SatCom on the move technologies.

DRS’s open architecture approach enables systems integrators to build a scalable capability for use at all echelons, from dismounted soldier to Brigade HQ. DRS currently supports and has demonstrated interoperability with Battle Management Systems applications in use by the US Army and Marine Corps, Australia, United Kingdom, Royal Netherlands Marines, and the UAE. Its open system approach can support a wide range of additional tactical applications such as network planning tools, UAV down and up links, Shot detection systems integrated with weapon systems and Electronic Warfare (EW) systems such as DRS’s Blackstone DF capability. Blackstone (which can be solider worn or vehicle mounted) provides mission-critical intelligence to the warfighter by rapidly detecting and locating a wide range of threat signals, monitoring signals of interest, and supporting real-time analysis of the signal environment. 

DRS’s next generation tactical hardware capability builds upon the strengths of its predecessors with faster processing speeds, memory and increasing I/O flexibility. The fourth generation Data Distribution Unit (DDU Block 4) is a highly integrated and extremely rugged mission critical computing/network server that simultaneously supports hosting of applications, management of network infrastructures, collection and streaming of sensor data. It can also host virtual machine capabilities to permit multiple operating systems and applications running concurrently while also providing low-latency sensor and data distribution capabilities.

The DDU Block 4 is a Vehicle Processor Unit (VPU) that enables improved situational awareness and understanding by permitting the integration of voice, video and data streams related to the Common Operating Picture (COP), Communications, Platform Sensors and platform vetronics. The DDU permits a true convergence of multiple computers and displays into a common mounted computing environment (MCE). Additionally, the architecture supports embedded RFID for In-Transit Visibility (ITV) of logistics data and can even monitor CANBUS and MIL-STD 1553 databus information to provide the automatic collection and analysis of onboard vehicle diagnostics for Health and Usage Monitoring Systems (HUMS) or Embedded Diagnostics.

Tying in Advanced Communications Systems

DDU Block 4Working together with a wide range of networking systems specialists, Leonardo DRS has developed an advanced communications solution built around its powerful DDU Block 4 architecture. The system is transport layer agnostic and integrates SATCOM on the move (SOTM), legacy analog systems, the latest generation Software Defined Radios (SDR) and commercial LTE and WiFi. The DDU permits the integration of tactical C4i and BMS systems to provide communications (voice, data, video) reach back and ground to air communications. The DRS solution for advanced tactical communications integration delivers tremendous advantages in terms of size, weight and power (SWAP) and its modular approach allows users to re-configure and re-purpose its systems onto a wide range of land, air and sea platforms.

Power is King

OBVPToday’s modern battlefield systems require increasing amounts of mobile power. Mobile power presents the expeditionary Commander with additional challenges in deployability, mobility and maintainability. The transport of large military generators across desert terrain can severely limit force mobility. Leonardo DRS, in partnership with Allison Transmissions, has built an innovative power generation and distribution system that can support a variety of missions without the need or burden of a string of towed generators.

DRS’s TITAN transmission-integrated On-Board Vehicle Power (OBVP) system can support Mobile Command Posts, Tactical Operation Centers, Combat Operations Center, Company Tactical Command Post, or even used to power a variety of emergency facilities such as field hospitals, triage units, fueling stations, or any other component requiring clean, reliable power.

The TITAN OBVP system has been designed, tested, and delivered to address the military’s increasing need for more electrical power to support missions. OBVP also reduces the logistical complexity by significantly reducing or eliminating the need for towed or tactical generator requirements. Integrated into the bell housing of an Allison 3200 or 4000 series transmission, the TITAN OBVP can be applied to a wide range of tactical vehicles without any modifications to their drive line making it highly cost effective for both new and existing vehicles.

The system provides up to 50kw of electrical on-board power on the move and up to 120kw at 2000 RPM and can be used on the vehicle and/or exported off the vehicle as part of a micro-grid to power a variety of other mission-critical systems. Titan OBVP is more efficient than tactical quiet generators and significantly reduces the logistics footprint while providing the land Force with a rapidly deployable expeditionary capability. It has an average 94% efficiency compared to a towed generator efficiency of no more than 60%.

TITAN-equipped vehicles improve the operational adaptability of the advancing forces by providing mobile, expeditionary power when speed, range, agility, and flexibility are critical to mission success. Whether it’s providing power to a mobile command center, tactical security checkpoint downrange or emergency power to critical facilities such as medical care or fuel and food distribution centers in time of humanitarian need, Leonardo DRS’ TITAN OBVP solution is able to provide power where you would least expect to find it.

Leonardo DRS understands the strong relationship between the US Armed Forces and those of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). As this allied relationship between the two countries has grown, DRS’s presence in the UAE has too, including a new systems integration and support center located in the International Golden Group’s (IGG) world-class industrial park.

DRS is committed to the UAE and is building a strong and enduring presence in order to support its fast-growing business. Understanding that, Leonardo DRS has entered into a strategic alliance with IGG for a number of key UAE Land Force projects. This partnership brings together one of the US’s primary technology companies with the UAE’s premier defense company to deliver a wide range of projects to UAE GHQ.

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