Three contractors to develop GSE soldier communications and situational awareness systems

WARREN, Mich., 19 April 2009. U.S. Army leaders are asking three U.S. prime defense contractors to develop wearable Army communications prototype systems that integrate radios, batteries, software, body armor, and combat helmets to help infantrymen increase their situational awareness, decrease their reaction times, and reduce the risk of accidentally injuring or killing one another during network centric operations.

By John Keller

WARREN, Mich., 19 April 2009. U.S. Army leaders are asking three U.S. prime defense contractors to develop wearable Army communications prototype systems that integrate radios, batteries, software, body armor, and combat helmets to help infantrymen increase their situational awareness, decrease their reaction times, and reduce the risk of accidentally injuring or killing one another during network centric operations.

The Army is asking the Raytheon Co. Network Centric Systems segment in McKinney, Texas; General Dynamics C4 Systems in Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to develop prototype wearable network centric warfare systems as part of the Ground Soldier Ensemble (GSE) program.

The GSE military network program for soldier communications focuses on providing mature technologies that when integrated together on the soldier minimizes size, weight, and power, while providing improved situational awareness and network connectivity at various echelon levels within an infantry brigade combat team.

The Army is asking Raytheon, General Dynamics, and Rockwell Collins to develop prototype GSE systems by integrating rechargeable high-capacity lithium-ion batteries, the Enhanced Position Location Reporting System (EPLRS) RT-1922 digital networked radio, Linux-based Army Battle Command software modules, as well as soldier clothing, body armor, and helmets to help infantry soldiers on the battlefield

Raytheon is receiving a $5.5 million contract, Rockwell Collins is receiving a $5.3 million contract, and General Dynamics is receiving a $5 million contract. Awarding the contracts are officials of the Army Tank-Automotive Command in Warren, Mich.

GSE software will include graphical user interface, database, mapping, navigation, user authentication, and digital voice and data transmissions. Part f this software comes from the Force-21 Battle Command, Brigade-And-Below (FBCB2) architecture so that the GSE maintains interoperability with evolving Army digital network standards and capabilities.

Those using the GSE primarily will be foot soldiers fighting the enemy. GSE equipment should be tailorable to changing mission requirements.

This technology development phase of GSE development asks the three contractors to develop 10 GSE system prototypes for the Army, with an option to build five GSE prototypes for the U.S. Marine Corps. The Army plans to deploy the GSE system alongside parts of the Future Combat Systems program in 2011.

More in Defense Executive