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The Future Force Warrior uniform suite is based on the Soldier Protective Integrated Ensemble System (SPIES), fabricated from highly durable, flexible textile, embedded with protective pads for elbow and knee protection. SPIES is built with a load carrying ‘chassis’ designed to distribute the fighting load evenly, and provide unconstrained vertical or lateral movement.

SPIES has an embedded ventilation capability and is fitted to accommodate the future cooling systems developed for the program. For protection and enhanced survivability, standard uniforms will be replaced by a full spectrum protective combat ensemble, fabricated from ultra-lightweight materials which will also provide resistance to friction and wear, water, chemical and biological agents.

Protection elements

The suite will have a built-in microclimate conditioning system in garments made of spaced fabric, with built-in capillaries blowing hot or cold air through the system. Future combat clothing may also include embedded electrical conductors, for power distribution, communications and signature (heat) suppression. Additional layers of ballistic protective shield will provide sufficient multi-hit protection from small arms fire and shrapnel. The bulletproof shell will be separated from the body by foam pads absorbing impact trauma. This design provides additional protection to the rib cage, while maintaining air flow for body cooling. The protective vest will also be used as load-bearing chassis. New robotic platforms will be developed as part of the Future Combat Systems (FCS) program, to augment the team during dismounted operations. One vehicle will be the small individual soldier support system, a miniature robotic vehicle will help clear inside buildings; a squad level support vehicle assisting to transport loads and sustain the troops on dismounted missions; and a larger vehicle with both direct and indirect fire capabilities linking the FFW and FCS programs.

Helmet & Headgear

The helmet will mount a new high definition see-through eyepiece, a GPS antenna, 3D audio and integrated bone conduction microphones (osteophone), which will replace the current headsets and enable efficient hands-free communications. Gel based sensors will also be integrated into the helmet, to monitor the human life signs (pulse and breathing rate). This information will become available for remote assisted medical support and real-time unit level status monitoring. The system will also support remote health monitoring and medical treatment. To assess the soldier’s physical condition and health status, the system will monitor the individual’s blood pressure, heart rate, internal and external body temperature, and caloric consumption rate. Commanders and medics will be able to access the information through a tactical local area network. Early warning of heat and cold injuries could eliminate serious deterioration of such conditions. Such conditions are responsible for a large percentage of casualties in both battle and training. If a soldier is injured, medics can start making an assessment before they even get to an injured soldier. A specialist physician, who can be miles away, will now be able to diagnose and treat a soldier who is about to have sunstroke, without even physically seeing the soldier.

Weapon system

Since the development of the personal weapon for the Future Force Warrior was suspended, the current M-4 remains the weapon of choice for the soldiers, augmented by accessories offering some of the advantages envisioned for the ‘next generation’ weapon. The development of the multi-purpose support weapon (XM-25) continues, in parallel to the evolution of the XM-104 sight. Prototype systems used during the recent exercises demonstrated the ability of soldiers to engage targets without line of sight, using the XM-104 mounted on the M-203 grenade launcher. This sight received target data from another soldier using the Multi-Function Laser, maintaining line of sight with the target.

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