New weapon system from Motorola determines friend or foe

PHOENIX - Engineers at Motorola Space and Systems Technology Group (SSTG) in Phoenix are integrating a stand-alone system that distinguishes between friendly and unfriendly forces during battle

By John McHale

PHOENIX - Engineers at Motorola Space and Systems Technology Group (SSTG) in Phoenix are integrating a stand-alone system that distinguishes between friendly and unfriendly forces during battle

Designing the system`s optics were engineers at Lockheed Martin Electro Optical Systems in Pomona, Calif. Experts from Hughes Defense Systems in El Segundo, Calif., are designing the human interface, which includes switches, buttons, and mounts.

The Combat Identification-Dismounted Soldier (CIDDS) consists of two components: the weapon component and soldier`s helmet.

The weapon component is an electronic assembly that can be mounted on any of five weapons. This 11-ounce assembly, which measures 3.5 inches by 3 inches by 1.5 inches, has a laser interrogator with a radio frequency receiver to verify interrogations.

The soldier`s helmet component has a set of laser detectors with a radio frequency transmitter that sends friend verifications upon interrogation.

"Soldiers needed a better method for determining that the object or person on target is the enemy," says Mark Fried, vice president and general manager of the Motorola SSTG Communications Systems Division.

"The enhanced situational awareness will increase soldiers` confidence, accuracy, and survivability while reducing a key element of risk in military operations," says Doug Russell, program manager of CIDDS at Motorola.

System integration with new application-specific integrated circuits was the key to design, Russell says. Most of the materials are commercial-off-the shelf, taken from other government projects.

The new technological feature is the combat identification laser, says Jerry Plunk, director of range systems engineering at Lockheed. It is a modular laser beam that sends an independent pulse towards the target to determine if it is friend or foe.

The eyesafe 25-watt laser is invisible to the human eye. The return frequency decodes the message and alerts the shooter. The frequency is at a bandwidth of 1.8 GHz.

Motorola engineers make the transmitter that receives the message and is similar to a low-power cellular phone operating at 10 watts, says Neil Anderson, systems engineer at Motorola. The range of the system is 1,100 meters.

The other two lasers in the system include a narrow infrared pointing laser which aims the system, and the Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System (MILES), which performs the tactical engagement function, Plunk explains.

MILES is for military training. When fired it simulates a blank round towards the target to officially engage it, then the combat identification laser; determines whether the target is friend or foe, Plunk says. Before CIDDS the Army would buy a separate 4 to 6 ounce box for each laser; now the functionality is contained in one box on the CIDDS system, he says.

The system will be interoperable with the Army`s Land Warrior system, the program to develop and field an integrated soldier fighting system by the year 2000.

The Land Warrior system includes five subsystems - integrated helmet assembly, software, computer/radio, weapon, and protective clothing and individual equipment - that link the soldier into the digitized battlefield.

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