Benelux Invest $150 million in Infantry Smart Vests

Elbit Systems will serve as the program prime contractor, with Thales Netherlands B.V its main sub-contractor which is responsible for vehicle systems integration, battery and GPS equipment.

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Elbit Systems announced today that its subsidiary, Elbit Systems Land and C4I Ltd. was awarded a contract from the Dutch Ministry of Defense, to supply ‘Smart Vests’ to equip the infantry soldiers in the Benelux countries – Netherlands, Belgium and Luxemburg. The contract, valued at approximately US$150 million, will be performed over a five-year period. The initial contract calls for the delivery of 135 pre-production systems – 80 for the Netherlands will be delivered next year, along with 40 for Belgium and 15 for Luxembourg.

Each ‘Smart Vest’ program includes wearable and protective systems for the soldier, command and control systems, including advanced audio and data radio systems, specialized displays and C4I capabilities as well as support systems integrated in combat vehicles. The mobile communication gear consists of the PNR-1000 Software Defined MANET soldier radio from Elbit Systems’ Tadiran division, and a hand held terminal. Operated with touchscreen and integral GPS, soldiers can see each other’s location on a map, access and send information and communicate with other units or headquarters.

“The Smart Vest is a big step forward in safety and performance of the Benelux soldiers at operational deployment,” said Vice Admiral Matthieu Borsboom, Director Defence Materiel Organisation. he said the new gear improves performance in all areas – survivability, mobility and situational awareness, improving overall command and control and operational effectiveness.

a big step forward in safety and performance of the Benelux soldiers

The ‘Smart Vest’ is a co-operation between the soldier modernization programs of the Benelux countries: NetherlandsVOSS, Belgium’s BEST and Luxemburg’s COMPASS. It is the first strategic joint program of the Benelux countries, and will enhance the warfighter’s survivability and safety while increasing their combat effectiveness empowering their digital capabilities in combat. Based on Elbit Systems’ DOMINATOR system, designed to be light-weight, modular and scalable and will interface with existing systems.

Elbit Systems will serve as the program prime contractor, with Thales Netherlands B.V its main sub-contractor which is responsible for vehicle systems integration, battery and GPS equipment. “We welcome domestic Benelux companies to join us in the project in order to strengthen the support for the local customers”. Bezhalel (Butzi) Machlis, President and CEO of Elbit Systems commented, adding that the fact “that such advanced armies have selected our solutions attests to our technological leadership and to the maturity of our solutions”.

The Benelux requirement is for more than 10,000 vests to be delivered through 2020. This includes 5,500 vests for lead customer the Netherlands, to begin deliveries in 2017 as part of its current Improved Operational Soldier System (VOSS) programme. Belgium has a need for approximately 4,500 systems under its Belgian Soldier Transformation (BEST) programme. Luxemburg is likely to receive few hundred systems for its Cooperative Modernisation Program of the Army for a Soldier System (COMPASS).

The Dutch program will also benefit from the E-Lighter – a new power source developed by Fokker in parallel to VOSS. The E-lighter is a portable diesel generator, that provides 48 hours of power for the ‘Smart Vest’.

The Smart Vest includes the PNR-1000 MANET SDR radio and hand-held tactical terminal, integrated into the load carrying and protection suite. Photo: ELbit Systems & Royal Netherlands Army.
The Smart Vest includes the PNR-1000 MANET SDR radio and hand-held tactical terminal, integrated into the load carrying and protection suite. Photo: ELbit Systems & Royal Netherlands Army.