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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Future Soldier : Modern Warfare Future Force Warrior

What Will Future Army Look Like? 

The Army's future soldier will resemble something out of a science fiction movie. The newest concepts for lightweight, overwhelmingly lethal, fully integrated individual combat system, including weapon, head-to-toe individual protection, netted communications, Soldier worn power sources, and enhanced human performance. The future soldier modernization strategy will build a versatile mix of mobile, networked future soldiers that will leverage mobility, protection, information, and precision fires to conduct effective operations across the spectrum of conflict. The Army’s Future Soldier Modernization Plan is informed by the comprehensive lessons learned from more than eight years of war, focuses on the evolving needs of our warfighters in a rapidly changing security environment, and exploits the knowledge and technologies developed under the Future Combat Systems program.


The system looks to combine rapid information transfer accelerate and improve Soldier’s Army by an advanced helmet system that sees all hears all and can relay this information to all. The system comes internal virtual reality display viewed by the soldier, a hologram projector viewed by others, and satellite and video communications available for view to all both field and command garrison staff.

Nano tech is being developed to assist in merging various aspects of the Future Force Warfighter system with new textiles for health monitoring and wound healing, cloaking and concealment, and atmospheric & environmental adaptation. Compact power sources such as advanced miniaturized battery packs, cutting edge hydrogen fuel cells, and integrated photovoltaic solar panels are incorporated to fuel system power demands. The new technologies that target six priorities: threat detection, threat neutralization, automated medical treatment, concealment, enhanced human performance, and reduced logistical footprints. Reducing logistical footprints are especially important to an in-field soldier whose standard-issue gear now weighs upwards of 100 pounds. The goal is reducing the load to about 45 pounds.


Health. The system is incorporating an elaborate vitals monitoring network referenced via GPS locators so medics and command staff can monitor heart rate, blood pressure, diagnose and treat stress, hydration, fatigue and catastrophic combat injuries. The Warfighter Physiological Status Monitoring System has six components that send their data signal to a main hub.


1)      Fluid Intake Monitor 
2)     Life Sign Detection System
3)     Sleep Performance Watch
4)     Biomedical Information System-Tactical 
5)     Medical Hub  
 6)   Core Temperature Ingestible Sensor

Not only will Future Force Warriors know more about their fellow soldiers, but they also will know more about their own physiological condition. These statistics are monitored by the soldier and by medics and commanding officers who might be miles away. Knowing the condition of a platoon of soldiers allows commanders to make better strategic decisions. The Future Force Warrior helmet also includes a GPS receiver, providing commanders with exact positioning data on their troops.

"What this will allow you to do is to know where that sniper round or mortar round came from, but at the same time it will cancel out noise at a certain decibel so as to not cause damage to the soldier's ears," said Robert Atkinson, liaison sergeant, operational forces interface group, Natick Soldier Center

The situation-awareness technology also allows soldiers to:
  • Detect other soldiers in front of them up to a couple of kilometers away
  • Focus in on a particular sound and amplify it


The bionic or hydraulic exoskeleton is designed to enhance strength speed and endurance to improve the warfighters function and combat effective carrying capacity. The exoskeleton is also intended to be used as ballistic protection in conjunction with liquid body armor.

The exoskeleton will merge structure, power, control, actuation and biomechanics. 

Here's a look at some of the challenges has outlined:
  • Structural materials - The exoskeleton will have to be made out of composite materials that are strong, lightweight and flexible.
  • Power source - The exoskeleton must have enough power to run for at least 24 hours before refueling.
  • Control - Controls for the machine must be seamless. Users must be able to function normally while wearing the device.
  • Actuation - The machine must be able to move smoothly so it's not too awkward for the wearer. Actuators must be quiet and efficient. 
  • Biomechanics - Exoskeletons must be able to shift from side to side and front to back, just as a person would move in battle. Developers will have to design the frame with human-like joints.


Now, scientists are working on a new breed of armor made from magnetorheological (MR) fluids -liquid body armor. Compact soldier portable heating and cooling systems are in beta to maintain climate control used with Future Force Warrior technologies. All this together with the best educated, highest trained military men armed with NEXGEN ADVANCON lasers and arrive at tomorrow's super soldier the Future Force Warfighter.

One type of MR fluid consists of small iron particles suspended in silicon oil. The oil prevents the particles from rusting. The fluid transforms from liquid to solid in just milliseconds when a magnetic field or electrical current is applied to it. The current causes the iron particles to lock into a uniform polarity and stack on top of each other, creating an impenetrable shield. How hard the substance becomes depends on the strength of the magnetic field or electrical current. Once the charge or magnetic field is removed, the particles unlock, and the substance goes back to a fluid state.


Next generation fiberoptic and holographic deception cloaking camouflage concealment designs are being merged to become compatible with the FFW system.


FFW interfaces with advanced, lightweight weapons and fire control optimized for urban combat, synchronized direct fire and indirect fire within and across FFW team, and leveraging FCS NLOS/BLOS fires.


Lightweight, low bulk, multi-functional, full spectrum protective combat ensemble. Ballistic protection, novel signature management, semi-permeable membrane for CB/wet protection, electro-textile power/data body LAN. On-board physiological/medical sensor suite with enhanced casualty care. Customized voice, tactile, visual and auditory human interface, with integrated laser eye protection.


Netted FFW small unit/teams with robust team communications, state-of-the-art distributed and fused (thermal and image intensification) sensors, organic tactical intelligence/collection assets, enhanced situational understanding, embedded training, on-the-move planning, and linkage to other Future Force assets.

The value of enemy reconnaissance depends on how quickly that information can be relayed to the soldier on the battlefield. The soldiers of the future will have more information immediately available to them than ever before. 

The Army currently employs a system called Blue Force Tracker (BFT). The system enables a commander to get a real-time picture of the battlefield from his or her personal computer. The commander can then track individual unit movement and provide this information to friendly units. Now a day most special force have used BFT, although they initially opted for a more portable and rugged system called the Enhanced Position Location Reporting System, or "ePLRS." Both ePLRS and BFT share the same goal like real-time tracking of friendly forces. The downside to both systems, however, is that they are bulky, somewhat dated and require computers with operators who could otherwise be carrying a weapon.

The Future Force Warrior setup is a significant improvement on these current systems. A computer embedded in the suit and located at the base of the soldier's back will be connected to a local and wide-area network, allowing for data transfer.


Unconstrained vertical and lateral movement at full up combat/ assault capability during mission execution. Objective individual soldier load weight of 40 pounds by introduction of lighter weight, multi-functional materials throughout all facets of the combat ensemble, a holistic systems approach, and offloading onto FCS robotic MULEs. Optimized cognitive and physical fight ability.


Future Force Warrior (FFW) - U.S. Army Natick Soldier Center
MIT's Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies (ISN)
Instant Armor (ScienCentralNews)
1st Lieutenant John H. Frushour, USMC, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit

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