New Interconnect Technology for Modern Soldier Systems

Qwik Connect

medical conditions—caused by excessive loads—have become more common throughout the military services. Now in the aftermath of Afghanistan and Iraq, there is a renewed effort to reduce loads—particularly in the development and use of centralized battery packs, integrated, multiport power hubs and interconnect cabling that allow soldiers to run devices off one rechargeable lithium-ion cell. In addition, researchers have increasingly focused on improving lithium-ion technology itself. Organizations like the US Army Research Laboratory have made significant gains in lithium-ion technology. One

and networking capabilities. The aim is not only to revolutionize how troops speak to each other but also how voice, location and data is transmitted through integrated warfighter information networks.

Iraq and Afghanistan have demonstrated soldiers must remain networked at all times to maintain tactical effectiveness and agility. The US military, for instance, is completely overhauling its information sharing capabilities for dismounted troops under a program called Nett Warrior. The aim is to mimic the simplicity and capacity of commercial networks, but retain the encryption needed for modern military operations. This “network centric” approach emphasizes the need to connect, or network, different technologies to enable greater data sharing and battlefield awareness. It is the “digital backbone” for any 21st century soldier. Nett Warrior will allow soldiers to securely share pictures, text messages and transmit location data across the network using an off-the-shelf (OTS) smartphone and software-defined radio. The core of this is the single channel AN/PRC-154 Rifleman Radio - made by General Dynamics C4 Systems and Thales - that transmits voice and data simultaneously using the Soldier Radio Waveform. Information from each device is also sent higher up the chain of command so commanders have a real-time picture of the battlefield. Along with OTS smartphone hardware, military and industry are also focusing on developing soldier-focused software applications (or apps). It’s not so much the future, but

of the most important developments has been the improvement in power output. Current lithium-ion batteries operate around the 3.6V-4.2V range but an improved

understanding of the interface between a battery’s cathode and electrolyte means 5V may soon be possible. Ultimately, that means batteries will last much longer and fewer spares will be necessary. Glenair has also been at the forefront of soldier power

management and weight saving work. Small form factor connectors, such as Mighty Mouse and now SuperFly have enabled integrated power system manufacturers to reduce the footprint of power equipment below what would otherwise have been possible. Glenair innovations in wire and cabling—such as

conductive materials woven directly into webbing—has also contributed to reductions in power management system size and weight.

keeping up with the rapid pace of technological change in the commercial sector. Soldiers are often frustrated their military communications gear doesn’t reflect the capabilities of their personal cellphones or tablets. US agency DARPA is working to revolutionize acquisition and

TACTICAL COMMUNICATIONS AND NETWORKING It is a universal motto among soldiers: “no comms, no bombs.” Those four words sum up the vital contribution communication systems play on the modern battlefield. After a decade of conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, many Western armies are now focusing on upgrading their communication

soldier capabilities through its Transformative Apps (TransApp) program. The idea is to create a military-style “App Store” where applications of all varieties

Qwik Connect n January 2015


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