The FELIN project began 15 years ago, in 1993. By 2004 Sagem was selected as prime contractor and development began. By 2009 the initial shipments of the first 1,000 systems are expected. In July 2008 the program will pass a major milestone, as decision on the production of the first thousand systems will be taken (the total FELIN acquisition, is expected to be 31,588 units). Sofar, prototype systems were delivered and tested, the most recent trials ended in April 2008 involving 40 systems. According to Jacques Dechoux, Programme Manager, FELIN, MoD France), 358 systems are being delivered, and will enter extensive and long field testing, beginning July this year (2008). Three infantry companies are being equipped with FELIN and will evaluate them during operational training during nine months.
FELIN and VBCI will enter service at the same time. Eventually, FELIN will work with 20 different systems, including different vehicles such as improved VAB, VBCI, AMX10P, the FAMAS assault weapon, SITEL battle management system, parachutes, helicopters, sensors, communications systems etc. The systems being used weigh about 25 kg, including essential combat supplies. They include the weapon’s day and night sights and weapon mounted controls, thermal binocular for commanders, helmet mounted night vision systems, data, audio and video capable secured radio, and power and data distribution system embedded into wearable webbing. Other elements to be evaluated include vehicle-mounted battery chargers, networking ‘sockets’ for mounted operations, unit networking support, laser eye protection gear and CBR protection suite.
Part of the recent studies included done as part of FELIN provided a detailed review of the human factors involved with extended mounted operations. Sofar most studies focused on the dismounted aspects of the soldier system, while little attention was given to the comfort, usability and ergonomics of soldier wearing combat suites inside the vehicle’s space for extended time. The FELIN study evaluated the seating configurations (facing columns) with weapons and communications gear connected to ‘hot shoes’ providing intercom and recharging.
Defense Update report from Soldier Technology 2008 is focusing on these topics:
- FELIN Enters Company Level Field Trials