USA — Army preparing for mountainous, battalion-sized test

WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, N.M. — The U.S. Army is plan­ning a rig­or­ous, large-scale Lim­it­ed User Test, or LUT, of its Incre­ment 1 Ear­ly Brigade Com­bat Team tech­nolo­gies at White Sands Mis­sile Range, N.M., lat­er this year. The eval­u­a­tion will test robots, sen­sors, UAVs and a bat­tle­field net­work in Afghan-like moun­tain­ous ter­rain.

A Soldier prepares to use a SUGV to enter and search a tunnel on Fort Bliss, Texas.
A Sol­dier pre­pares to use a SUGV to enter and search a tun­nel on Fort Bliss, Texas.
Source: Army Pho­to

Span­ning a 35-kilo­me­ter area, the 2010 LUT will be more than five times larg­er than the 2009 LUT which test­ed the same tech­nolo­gies on the com­pa­ny lev­el scale in the five-kilo­me­ter area known as Adobe Vil­lage. “We had a com­pa­ny-sized test last year — a very small foot­print in Adobe Vil­lage. This year we have a bat­tal­ion and we have added two more vil­lages,” said Maj. Gen. Kei­th Walk­er, direc­tor of the Army’s Future Force Inte­gra­tion Direc­torate, Fort Bliss, Texas. “In 2011 we will spread the brigade a good 70 kilo­me­ters.” The test range for the 2010 LUT — designed in part by Afghan war vet­er­ans — is a large next-step in an incre­men­tal test­ing approach aimed at prepar­ing the first unit to deploy to Afghanistan with Incre­ment 1 tech­nolo­gies: the U.S. Army’s 3rd brigade, 1st Armored Divi­sion. “In 2012 — the first IBCT will deploy to Afghanistan and it will take with it the first capa­bil­i­ty pack­age,” said Walk­er. The LUT will test sen­sors such as the Small Unmanned Ground Vehi­cle, or SUGV, robot in urban and non-urban envi­ron­ments such as 80,000-square foot build­ings, caves and moun­tains. “We’ve put a vil­lage up in the moun­tains for com­plex ter­rain and non-line-of-sight sit­u­a­tions. We got to be able to pass infor­ma­tion across the net­work at sig­nif­i­cant dis­tances,” said Jer­ry Tyree, Direc­tor of the Army Eval­u­a­tion Task Force (AETF), Pro­gram Exec­u­tive Office Inte­gra­tion. “The unit will be spread out. There will be a For­ward Oper­at­ing Base and a moun­tain vil­lage.” As one of their objec­tives dur­ing the exer­cise, sol­diers will have to raid, take over and sus­tain oper­a­tions from the moun­tain vil­lage, Tyree said. The 2010 LUT will not only add more space, peo­ple and ter­rain to the test; it will include more equip­ment and assets such as the Shad­ow and Raven UAS, said Paul Mehney, spokesman for PEO Inte­gra­tion. The idea is to place more stress on the bat­tle­field net­work by increas­ing the ranges as well as the num­ber of nodes, he said. “The thrust of this is to make sure that the net­work with the radios will per­form up to stan­dard in these type of high­er stress envi­ron­ments,” said Mehney. The Incre­ment 1 tech­nolo­gies, which include the SUGV, Tac­ti­cal and Urban Unat­tend­ed Ground Sen­sors, Class 1 UAS and “net­worked” vehi­cles — are designed to share voice, video and sen­sor data across the force in real time using high band­width wave­forms such as Sol­dier Radio Wave­form (SRW) and Wide­band Net­work­ing Wave­form (WNW). “Right now the IBCT does not have a ter­res­tri­al-based dig­i­tal net­work. We are offer­ing it to them. All they do now is share posi­tion loca­tion infor­ma­tion at the squad leader, pla­toon lev­el. Now, we are giv­ing them fusion of data and screens to project it —it is robust, scal­able and long range,” said Col. John Wen­del, pro­gram man­ag­er, Infantry Brigade Com­bat Team. In ear­ly tech­ni­cal per­for­mance mea­sures, SRW has demon­strat­ed an abil­i­ty to move sen­sor infor­ma­tion at ranges up to 12 kilo­me­ters and WNW demon­strat­ed an abil­i­ty to con­nect nodes 20 miles apart; These ranges, which still need to be proven out in for­mal test­ing, rep­re­sent an expo­nen­tial increase over the pre­vi­ous year. In fact, key aim of the expand­ed 2010 LUT will be to test the repairs and reli­a­bil­i­ty “fix­es” made as a result of lessons learned from the 2009 LUT. “We have fixed every­thing. All of those repairs and cor­rec­tive actions are built into the soft­ware, the hard­ware and the train­ing plans to make sure we are doing things right and that we are not going to have repeats of fail­ures. We have also done accel­er­at­ed destruc­tive test­ing to find new fail­ures that haven’t occurred yet in the field and we have fixed those,” said Wen­del. The LUT will also test Humvees and Mine Resis­tant Ambush Pro­tect­ed vehi­cles con­fig­ured with Net­work Inte­gra­tion Kits (NIK) allow­ing them to link to the bat­tle­field net­work, view sen­sors feeds and share infor­ma­tion across the force; among oth­er things, the NIKs include a Joint Tac­ti­cal Radio Sys­tems Ground Mobile Radio (JTRS GMR), an Inte­grat­ed Com­put­er Sys­tem and a Blue Force Track­er dis­play screen. “By putting the NIK in Humvees and MRAPs, we’re kind of doing a ret­ro­grade with what has already proven itself in com­bat. The NIK is the some­thing we are test­ing as part an inte­gra­tion kit to pull all these sen­so­ry inputs from the oth­er sys­tems,” said Col. Randy Lane, AETF com­man­der.

Text- / Bildquelle (source):
US Army