Specialist wireless communications company, Wood & Douglas is introducing a new communications kit designed to improve the video and voice control link between operators and military, and search trained working dogs.
P.A.W.S.Wi-Fi has been developed to provide security forces with a low cost entry system for training purposes and field deployment where search dogs are expected to be in close contact with the handler, such as urban search, drug and explosives detection. With P.A.W.S.Wi-Fi and the handler in close proximity, dogs in training gain rapid confidence when wearing the live video system.
With a head mounted video camera, P.A.W.S. Wi-Fi enables a dog to operate without any discomfort, beaming real-time video to its handler for search & rescue, military operations support, explosives and drugs detection.
With a camera that supports low light, high resolution and Infra Red ‘day for night’ vision options, the dog mounted video system can be used to search buildings and difficult to traverse terrain; locate and then positively identify suspect packages, devices, or individuals, providing evidence gathering for prosecution or operational assessment.
Once familiarised with the system, canine teams posted on operations rapidly adapt to the full P.A.W.S. system, which offers enhanced link performance in any environment with full CofDM video and a two-way audio link. The CofDM video extends the transmission range for P.A.W.S., even deep into buildings or underground, enabling dogs to range further and still provide live intelligence from areas otherwise inaccessible to the handler. The audio link allows the handler to instruct the dog remotely and communicate with those caught on camera.
Alan Wood, Managing Director, Wood & Douglas, says, “P.A.W.S Wi-Fi introduces greater flexibility into a system that already makes hazardous jobs safer for both the dog and handler. It can help speed up training and enable dogs to quickly acclimatise to using equipment that uniquely enhances intelligence gathering and helps save lives.”
Full-pace, full-scope testing of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle prototypes began Sept. 3 and will last for 14 months. Each of the three vendors — Oshkosh Defense, Lockheed Martin and AM General — delivered 22 vehicles and six trailers for testing to three sites — Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.; Yuma, Ariz.; and Rrs 14 Medstone Arsenal, Ala. according to Col. John Cavedo, the Joint Program Office managerThe test program includes rigorous reliability testing over various terrains and in different weather conditions and protection-related testing is being conducted.
Cavedo said the program is still on track despite this year’s sequestration and the continuation of continuing resolutions, but warned that if the budget issues are not resolved by next year, he could not rule out a slip in the schedule. “We’re doing everything we can to keep the program on track,” he said, emphasizing the importance of the program to meeting asymmetrical threats like those experienced in Iraq and Afghanistan.
With military forces facing ‘asymmetric’ warfare in contemporary conflicts, that notion of front lines and rear area was no longer applicable after 9/11. As the military has deployed to Iraq in the mid 1990s ‘soft’ vehicles such as the Army’s ‘Humvee’ became vulnerable to improvised explosive devices no matter where they were. Up-armor was added for protection but the enemy adapted to that with more lethal explosives.
The added weight of the up-armor taxed the Humvees’ performance and further limited its payload, which now included network gear. And, the Humvees were just getting old, with the first ones rolling off the assembly line about three decades ago.
Soldiers and Marines continued to be vulnerable, so the mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles, known as MRAPs, were developed. These had good payload and protection and helped save many lives over the last six years, but performance was sacrificed and Soldiers could not move with speed and agility around the battlefield, especially in the difficult terrain in parts of Afghanistan, he said.
Furthermore, the heavier versions of the earlier MRAPs could not be moved around the battlefield by helicopter and required strategic lift, which in turn required adequate runways for these big cargo planes to take-off and land.
The sustainment cost for the MRAP program increased over time, he said, as more variants were developed by different vendors. Parts were not interchangeable and mechanics had to get follow-on training, he said.
The JLTV closed the capability gap, addressing “the iron-triangle of payload, performance and protection,” he said. Its payload and protection is similar to an MRAP and its performance exceeds that of a Humvee.
ADAPTIBILITY & FLEXIBILITY
Besides addressing the “iron-triangle,” Cavedo said the JLTV is designed to meet the needs of the commander for a variety of missions.
The commander can decide what level of protection JLTV needs for the mission, he said, pointing out that armor kits will be available for vehicles going into harm’s way. Also, some of the JLTVs will be equipped with heavy weapons, including TOW missile systems, while others can be used as light, utility vehicles.
Other kits include command and control and network gear. He said JLTV “plug and play” open-architecture technology allows for future networks and electronic devices to be installed without a vehicle redesign.
While different vehicles will have different kits, all vehicles come equipped with automatic fire extinguishers, multiple egress options, fuel-tank fire suppression systems and combat locks.
Powering the 21,000-pound gross weight JLTV and whatever kits and trailers are added on is a 300-horsepower fuel-efficient diesel engine. JLTVs also will be able to tow the thousands of legacy trailers that are still useable.
HOLDING COSTS DOWN
“We’ve managed to hold cost down by promoting better competition between vendors, incentivizing productivity and conducting an analysis of alternatives,” he said. By “analysis of alternatives,” he means ordering the right number of kits and mission packages. “We don’t want surplus kits stockpiled in warehouses across the country.”
Incentivizing productivity, he explained, means that after giving the original equipment manufacturer, or OEM, the specs, like protection, speed, weight and so on, it is up to them to determine how it’s built and what the tradeoffs are.
He provided an example. Besides armor kits, the basic JLTV requires a certain level of protection, he said. There might be very exotic metals out there that are lightweight and offer exceptional protection, but the cost involved would be astronomical. So a tradeoff might be reached where steel or aluminum is used to keep the cost down but still meet the basic requirements. To be competitive, however, the thickness or type of material used might exceed basic standards but be within a reasonable price range.
Tradeoffs like this apply to the power and transmission features and to everything else on the vehicle, he said. They’re trying to be as innovative and competitive as possible with the other OEMs, yet they must stay below the $250,000 assembly-line figure.
There are other ways cost has been controlled. Instead of requiring each OEM to supply 35 vehicles, they were required to provide 22 for the testing phase, he said. That number is reasonable and adequate for an effective evaluation.
Also, instead of a cost-plus type contract, the JLTV is on a firm-fixed price contract.
“In the past, the production price was set after down-select,” he said. “Our intent was to set production prices during competition so as we go forward into the competitive down-select we’ll have production prices set at that point and not negotiated for the years out.”
Source-selection evaluation will start in early 2015, and conclude by July of that year when a single vendor will be selected.
At that time, 2,000 vehicles will be produced and be tested for three years with the focus on fine-tuning the assembly line, full-up system testing and so on.
Full-scale production will begin in fiscal year 2018 with the ratio of organic to contract work determined by the third quarter of fiscal year 2015.
By 2018, the first Army brigade will roll with new JLTVs, he said.
Production will total 49,000 JLTVs for the Army and 5,500 for the Marines, with the production cycle ending sometime in the 2030s.
Kits will initially be produced by the selected OEM but follow-on kits might use a different vendor, he said.
In conclusion, Cavedo said the JLTV comes at the right time at the right cost, and is the perfect match to the Army’s shift to the Pacific, regional alignment strategy and meets the requirements of the Defense Strategic Guidance of 2012 and the Army’s 2014 Equipment Modernization Plan.
The U.S. Army’s latest “research prototype vehicle” has entered advanced testing phase with the Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC). The new vehicle known as the Ultra Light Vehicle (ULV) was built as a Concept Vehicle for TARDEC’s Detroit Arsenal. The new hybrid tactical vehicle targets safety, fuel-efficiency and versatility. It was developed in the past 16 months using commercial technologies. Final testing is beginning on the ULV vehicle platform with evaluating its capability to support Soldiers on missions across a full spectrum of mobility challenges while keeping occupants safe and using fuel efficiently.
Army researchers have designed the ULV to meet a wide range of challenges by making it fuel efficient, versatile and survivable in nearly any environment.
Funded by the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), the ULV project team is developing and building three identical lightweight tactical research prototype vehicles emphasizing survivability for occupants and meeting four research objectives:
Payload – 4,500 lbs
Performance – at 14,000 lbs curb weight
Protection – comparable to the currently fielded Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected (MRAP) vehicles
Price – $250,000 each in a hypothetical 5,000-unit production run
TARDEC’s Ground System Survivability group partnered with non-traditional defense contractors bringing the engineering expertise of both to the project. In only 16 months, the team moved from design to prototype.
“The Army’s approach was to create synergistic survivability,” explained TARDEC GSS Associate Director Steve Knott. “Soft deliverables — such as data and lessons learned — and hard deliverables — such as test assets and spare automotive components — will help shape, inform and support tactical vehicle programs, technology demonstrator efforts and/or TARDEC Innovation Projects to maximize the overall return on investment.”
The team produced three vehicles: two will be used for mobility, mine blast and ballistic survivability testing and the third is moving into TARDEC’s Ground Systems Power and Energy Laboratory (GSPEL) for mobility and fuel efficiency testing. Results are expected to be available in early 2014.
Highlights of ULV’s powertrain, design, communications and protection, focusing on mobility and survivability, include:
Powertrain – With two electric motors (front and rear) the ULV’s hybrid powertrain improves both mobility and survivability. By eliminating the need for a driveshaft, the underbody can be designed to perform well in a blast event. And either of the electric motors can power the vehicle, providing redundancy. A lightweight diesel engine powers the electric motors and also enables:
• Immediate launch
• Stealth drive
• Silent watch
• Exportable power generation
• High torque at low/near zero speeds
• Improved fuel economy
Design – ULV’s final design was developed by lead contractor Hardwire LLC. The cab provides more interior space than similarly equipped tactical vehicles. Remote-mounted and remote-controlled vehicle electronics reduce HVAC loads and create space. “Clamshell” front and rear doors open away from the B-pillar creating a protected area for Soldiers to exit.
“The cab is designed to have seven egress points facilitated by quick-release and removable components, stowage space for personnel and mission-specific items and 360-degree situational awareness through front- and rear-mounted ultra wide-angle thermal imagers,” explained TARDEC engineer Vladimir Gendlin.
Communications – ULV features lower-weight Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) technologies focused on warfighter needs.
Survivability/Ballistic Protection – The hybrid design allows for a “clean underbody” through the elimination of various automotive components potentially allowing for blast-mitigation technologies to perform uninhibited during a blast event. This design provides added opportunities to integrate various blast-mitigating kits under the hull for higher threat levels. Interior technologies include a crushable floating floor system that decouples the crew’s feet and legs from the steel hull and absorbs energy, adjustable stroking seats, five-point restraint systems, and spatial accommodations to mitigate head im
pacts and flail injuries. ULV also utilizes high-strength steels and advanced composite materials offering lightweight ballistic protection from a number of threats to include a newly developed transparent ceramic armor system to keep the vehicle’s overall weight down.