You're having a laugh...........

Discussion in 'Infantry' started by PartTimePongo, Jul 1, 2002.

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  1. From todays Sunday Times.........

    June 30, 2002

    Britain spends £1bn on robo-soldiers
    Jonathan Leake, Science Editor

    BRITAIN’S infantrymen are to be turned into high-tech “robo-soldiers” in a £1 billion project to create one of the world’s most technologically advanced armies.
    The scheme will see the army’s traditional helmets, uniforms and rifles scrapped. Instead, soldiers will bristle with gadgets including a gun capable of shooting around corners, a computerised helmet that can download maps, and a whisper-sensitive radio implanted in the ear that will remove the need for shouted orders.

    The officer overseeing the project, Lieutenant-Colonel Dave Stewart, said the move would be among the most significant in the army’s history: “The infantryman’s war is close, personal and very often violent, brutal and dangerous. This project aims to provide a revolutionary enhancement to his operational effectiveness.”

    The project, codenamed Fist (for Future Integrated Soldier Technology), aims to turn everything a soldier wears or carries into an “integrated fighting system” with every component linked to the rest. The first such kits could be introduced from 2008, with the whole army modernised by 2012.

    At its heart will be a computerised gun capable of firing grenades or bullets and equipped with a display screen enabling a soldier to aim it from around corners or over walls without exposing his head or body.

    The gun, equipped with laser rangefinders and thermal-imaging equipment, may even have voice controls and a radio link enabling it to be fired remotely from several feet away.

    The soldier’s helmet will include a pull-down visor capable of displaying aerial views of the battlefield with the soldier’s position and those of colleagues.

    A global positioning system and transmitter on his arm will keep commanding officers and fellow soldiers in touch with his movements and reduce the risk of his being mistaken for an enemy.

    The Fist project follows combat studies which show that the biggest problems for infantrymen are not fighting enemy soldiers but finding and identifying them.

    A senior officer said: “The figures show that 50% of soldiers get lost on their way to a battle, 10% of them so badly that they never find it. Moving across country or around urban areas accurately is vital.”

    Other figures show that even when soldiers do find the battle they can sometimes shoot their comrades rather than the enemy. Estimates from the second world war suggest that about 15% of allied casualties were caused by “friendly fire”. Such confusion — which is typical of all battlefields — often leads to soldiers not using their guns at all.

    Major Simon Johns, who analyses battlefield engagement and equipment capability at the MoD, said studies showed that only 25% of soldiers in battle fired their weapons. The rest spent their time running around looking for the enemy or taking cover.

    He said: “We could improve fighting effectiveness by an estimated 75% if we could enable them all to fire their weapons rather than worrying about surviving.”

    A key issue will be to equip soldiers for urban warfare. Studies show that modern conflicts increasingly take place in towns rather than in the countryside. Stewart said: “About 60% of the world now lives in towns and that is where the fighting happens. We need kit and training suited for that.”

    The decision over who gets the £1 billion contract is vital to Britain’s defence for at least two decades. Two British contenders, BAE Systems and Marconi, are up against Raytheon, an American-owned firm, and Thales, whose roots are in France.

    All four have spent months drawing up their vision for the project and trying to convince the MoD that theirs is best. Last week, however, none wished to discuss its plans in detail.

    A BAE spokesman said: “It is very tense. The future of a big chunk of Britain’s defence industry is at stake here.”

    Raytheon, which has a UK subsidiary with 2,000 staff, has promised that much of the work would be done in Britain.

    Some say that familiarity with home computing and video gaming will make it easy for future recruits to adapt, but others fear that the army will have to raise its recruitment standards.

    So MOD understand, what we want is the lightest kit, waterproof and rip proof, with trousers that don't wear out in 10 minutes flat. Decent webbing and a lighter more FOD resistant helmet.

    We want a gun that works properly, with enough length to be outside the other teams bayonet reach. We want more GPS and a whole load of other stuff.

    What we don't want, is to be implanted with christ knows what, or to have to "assimilate" a sh(tload of info, when we are getting shot at. Most of all, a boffins idea of "lightweight" is invariably not the same as mine.
  2. Unknown_Quantity

    Unknown_Quantity War Hero Moderator

    If all these bits of kit comes in within 15 years of each other I just hope we don't go the way of the Americans and come to rely on the equipment rather than the soldier.

    And wasn't Bowman supposed to be our first piece of kit from the FIST project?
  3. No...BOWMAN and FIST are 2 totally seperate systems.  Currently the comms requirement for FIST has not even been stated.  BUT what is known is that if you want the amount of data that FIST is capable of producing to fly around the battlefield you will need a little more that a VHF radio.  Study has just been conducted at Blandford by an MSc student into the FIST comms infrastructure requirements, if you're really interested his report can be found in the Royal School of Signals Technical Library.
  4. We will not be able to afford it.  And I for one am very sceptical of being FISTed!
  6. Unbelievable- just what we need. A load more batteries, radios, sights and other electronic sh1te. I wonder if they are going to develop robo-knees and robo-backs to help us carry all this expensive tat.
  7. Do not fear, just wait for the first air-burst and the EMP will frag the lot, then we can get back to hand signals and knife fighting.

    We seem to persistantly forget the lessons all of our predecessors have learned the hard way.  But then beardy weirdy civvies probably have a much better ideas about all of our needs.
  8. bugger EMP, if FIST hasn't improved since i took part in one of the trials everybody will be electrocuted as soon as it rains..... :mad:
  9. The game-boy generation strike again.   It's all very clever having a helmet that tells you where you are, and a rifle that fires 'round corners, but what about the spotty nark lurking underneath it all......where do you fit the bayonnet to him?
  10. Ord_Sgt

    Ord_Sgt RIP

    MSc students doing the research. Thats encouraging then!

    Peasants all of them.
  11. Of course we want everything you say, and much of this is in progress. The equipment programmes that will supply these items are in the public domain - it will not happen overnight and rather than just pick something off the shelf we must ensure that it is properly integrated with the remainder of the infantryman's equipment.

    Interesting comments re FIST and the sceptic view which I entirely understand. However operational analysis combined with objective trialling using sldrs from regular Inf Bns (some reading this may have been involved on the trials ?) are used to validate each FIST requirement. Many forget that infantryman are involved in the FIST project - and they have the best interests of their fellow infantrymen at heart !  :) (I do not have connections with this Project now I hasten to add - though I have had something to do with it in the past)

    The bottom line is - if the equipment is useless or does not enhance capability - then it is not brought into service. It is simple as that !  ;D

    So..... lets see what the firms produce when the contract is let ... and if it does not improve the infantryman's ability to kill the enemy quicker, safer and in greater numbers ..  then it had better not be entering service !  ;D
  12. Point taken Ramillies, however the whole trials and acceptance way of doing business does not, in my limited experience of it, deliver necessarily what we want all of the time.

    I was involved in one of the later acceptance trials for one of the CATTs.  We lost a week's worth of scarce BG level trg in order to prove the system and thereby allow its acceptance.  There remained many bugs / faults within the system, however and notwithstanding this, it was accepted at the conclusion of our week.  Now, we should have learned this lesson form the problems with the system in UK, however we didn't.  I did not believe (as a user) that any of our feedback that week was relevant as it was clear from the start that the system would be accepted, warts and all (of which there remain some fairly ugly ones).  

    It was clear that there was some sort of other agenda, whether it be pressure form above or no to get it online (The two systems still cannot yet fight against each other due to crashes).

    What this means in the long term is that the systems engineers disappear and a skeleton maint team is left behind, which will take much longer to iron out any specific problems.

    Don't get me wrong, this is a good trg tool (although it is in danger of being overegged but that's another issue, see thread on CATT).  But surely having spent so many of our scarce beans from the finite pot, we should have ensured that we were absolutely happy with it before taking it on the inventory.  The QM wouldn't take over accn from a contractor which was incomplete and required work from the blokes to finish it off would he?

    The trouble was, the boys could see this from their debriefs, they are not (thankfully) easily fooled.
  13. Ventress

    Ventress LE Moderator

    It will be easier to fight the next war over internet, on MOHAA, less casualties, but think of the phone bill!
  14. Thanks for the comments DM and you raise some good points. I do not know enough about the background to the CATT project but as with all other projects the only agenda is for those who procure the equipment for us, is to bring it in on time and to cost.

    Nearly everything is tradeable.  :(  If a specific requirement for an item of equipment either costs too much or increases the risk of a delay in the introduction of the equipment into service, then that requirement is likely to be dropped - in the interests of getting 80% of the requirement right rather than spending considerable time and money going for a 100% solution.

    The key to the acceptance process as far as the user is concerned are the Trials and Development Units. They are involved with industry throughout the development process advising them and acting as subject matter experts.

    Gone are the days of large equipment budgets where money could be thrown to fix a problem - like some other nations we all know !  ;D Our butter ration has to spread very thinly with the emphasis on us getting value for money. Sad to say but fact  :)
  15. Not suggetsing that there was any underhand or dodgy agenda at all, just that the process had lost sight slightly of what we were trying to achieve.  
    On occasions it would appear that we are not particularly good at dealing with civilian organisations / contracts etc and getting out of them what a civilian firm would.  A profit making business would not accept most of the stuff we do, instead would push for a more stringent compliance with the original terms.  I know that we are not a profit making organisation, (and notwithstanding the ridiculous business terminology we are having to accept these days, long may we not lose sight of this fact) but with the limited pot we have maybe we should be yet more forceful?