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Land Warrior (LW)

Starting in the early 1990s, the Army began digitizing vehicles, but Soldiers would lose all of their situational awareness when they exited the vehicles. Land Warrior was intended to allow soldiers to maintain this awareness and improve the commander's ability to manage the battle.

The digital communication and navigation equipment was designed to eliminate the fog of war, reduce elements of confusion in close combat situations, and provide leaders with accurate locations of both friendly and enemy forces. It would provide a sense of comfort in reducing the fratricide potential, especially when there might be many units moving in and out of the battlefield. Everyone would know where everyone else was on the battlefield and everyone would know where everyone else's direct fire was.

Land Warrior is a modular fighting system that uses state-of-the-art computer, communications, and global positioning technologies to digitally link Soldiers on the battlefield. The system is integrated with the Soldier's body armor and has a helmet-mounted display. It gives situational awareness, to see all blue (friendly) forces in the area of operations. It gives maps and imagery. It also allows the leaders to change graphics while on the move. And it gives voice and text messaging capabilities. Soldiers wearing the Land Warrior system can access detailed maps, execution checklists, and other mission-essential information stored by the system. The system can store more than 600 images including photographs of targets, locations, etc. The Soldier views the maps and imagery through the helmet-mounted display, which is pulled down over one eye when needed. Each Soldier wearing the system is represented by an icon on the map. Using drop-down menus, team leaders and commanders can place virtual icons, or virtual "chem lights" onto a map identifying known enemy locations or other essential information.

Land Warrior integrated small arms with high-tech equipment enabling ground forces to deploy, fight and win on the battlefields of the 21st century. The Land Warrior program came about in 1991 when an Army study group recommended the service look at the soldier as a complete weapon system. Land Warrior was initiated as a first-generation, modular fighting system for individual infantrymen. It was to be composed of six integrated subsystems that included clothing and equipment needed to enhance soldier lethality, survivability, mobility and target acquisition capabilities. In FY08 the US Army removed all budgeting for Land Warrior, and shelved the project.

Land Warrior (LW) was a first generation modular, integrated fighting system for the individual infantryman and those soldiers in the close fight supporting the infantry. The LW system included everything the dismounted soldier would wear and carry, integrated into a close combat fighting system that was expected to enhance the soldier's tactical awareness, lethality, and survivability. The LW System was composed of 5 integrated subsystems: Weapon Subsystem, Helmet Subsystem, Computer/Radio Subsystem (CRS), Software Subsystem, and Protective Clothing and Individual Equipment Subsystem. LW was intended for use by all five types of infantry: Ranger, Airborne, Air Assault, Light and Mechanized. LW would integrate the dismounted warfighter into the Army's digitized battlefield network. It was anticipated that all infantrymen at company level and below would be equipped with Land Warrior systems. LW, with its heads-up data display, would allow infantrymen to call up maps, send messages and request fire support, all by clicking a mouse. Video and thermal image capability connected to their M4 carbines would allow them to "see" and shoot around corners.

The Land Warrior System would allow dismounted soldiers and units to fully participate in military operations where orders, intelligence, and other combat information were distributed in digital form. In addition, the Land Warrior System was expected to make the dismounted soldier a more lethal and survivable entity on the battlefield, and would make the entire force more proactive. As part of the LW system, the individual soldier would be able to harness battlefield information and operate the LW radios and position/navigation system. This would save time and would allow the soldier to be more efficient and effective in combat. Tactical Awareness was and is one of the greatest strengths/advantages that a soldier could have on the battlefield. The LW system allowed the integration of digital maps, position locations of both the individual soldier and other friendly units and known enemies, sensor systems on the weapon, and other external sensors. Integrating all of these would provide the soldier with unprecedented tactical awareness and makes the soldier extremely proactive. The system also provided for future implementation of Combat ID and other emerging technologies.

The Land Warrior System was to be battery powered. The concept was to use rechargeable batteries for training, test purposes, and for combat missions where commercial or vehicular power was available, and to use disposable batteries for other combat missions and as backups.

In order to be accepted by the Army, the Land Warrior System could not increase the Soldier's Load (redefined from the 1990s to 92.5 lbs) in close combat. The LW System was initially fielded in FY04 and had to weigh no more than 84 lbs. Of this, the electronics weighed approximately 12 lbs. Future versions of the LW were expected to significantly reduce the overall system weight.

By mid-2000 PM-Soldier, a Fort Belvoir, Virginia, a component of the US Army Soldier Systems Center, had developed an evolution of the Land Warrior system that was 25 pounds lighter and about $80,000 cheaper per unit than the initial version. The cost reduction was largely due to development of a much more compact, commercial communication and computer system. Significant cost reductions had been made by employing COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) hardware instead of the slower cycle of designing and testing custom hardware. The design would have cost $90,000 each for LW, though the new design was down to $10,000 to $15,000 in estimated production cost per unit. While cost savings could be attributed largely to dramatic changes in technology, an increase in the number of companies capable of producing a particular product could also be credited. The LW system's first computer cost $32,000 and was available from only one vendor. The COTS computer cost $440 and was available from about 12 vendors. Additionally, "fire wire" would replace bulky cables. The old cables cost roughly $5,000 per unit. The wire, which would be bought commercially, would be more flexible and durable and would cost less than $100 per unit. The restructured LW also boasted a new, lighter-weight helmet, called MICH, that's was already used by special-operations forces.

Uncertainties over future force structures within the US Army as a product of the Objective Force Warrior program, and the fact that the Land Warrior equipment package was not entirely defined, led to the program office exploring a number of systems at varying costs by 2002. The more systems to be developed would lead to obvious increases in cost. Like the total number of systems, the mix of components that the Army provided to soldiers would have a significant effect on program cost.

While every soldier requiring the Land Warrior was expected to receive the basic system capability, certain positions would require additional system equipment. To accommodate the varying requirements, the Army developed the Land Warrior System in two versions: the Soldier and the Leader. The difference between the soldier and leader versions was that the leader version would include a SINCGARS-compatible radio, a keyboard, and a handheld display. The Army were also developing variants for use by Medics, Combat Engineers, and Forward Observers.

The Soldier version was the basic Land Warrior System and included the five subsystems of computer and radio, software, integrated helmet assembly, weapons, and protective clothing and individual equipment. The Soldier radio provided intra-squad voice and data communications over a limited distance.

The Leader version was the Soldier version with a handheld, flat panel display and keyboard and the multi-band, inter- and intra-team radio. Squad leaders could use the handheld, flat panel display and keyboard to obtain the information on the helmet-mounted display of the integrated helmet assembly. The radio transceiver was portable and battery operated, capable of providing both secure and nonsecure voice and data communications from the small unit squad leader to the company commander. The radio also had extended range communications for certain mission areas such as the medic or forward observer.

Because the Land Warrior was a modular system, the Army was able to vary components within the two basic versions. For example, when deployed a soldier might get a medium thermal weapon sight rather than a light thermal weapon sight on a weapon depending on the soldier's mission or tasks.

The revised Land Warrior program was planned for development in three spiral blocks. The first, Block I/Land Warrior-Initial Capability ran into development trouble and was combined with Block II, Land Warrior-Stryker Interoperable. There were several differences between the two versions, the most important of which was that LW-SI would be interoperable with the Force XXI Battle Command, Brigade and Below system. When LWSI soldiers were inside a Stryker, they would be able to plug into the vehicle to access data and power, and would be able to recharge the LW-SI battery packs.

In 2008, as a companion to FCS, the Army would field the "Land Warrior SI+." What the "plus" was had not been determined because, said a source, "we don't know what FCS is yet." The system would likely have featured a new data bus structure and power pack to match those of FCS. A new weapon capable of direct- and indirect-fire would be included, as would the Joint Tactical Radio System and improved night vision devices.

Block I (subsequently dismounted soldiers using Block II systems) soldiers would also have a version of the robotic mule in development under the Objective Force Warrior program, though not the objective capability. The infantry would also be equipped with unmanned aerial vehicles, but, again, not the full complement expected for later stages of the Objective Force, the official said. Laser illuminators and designators and next-generation optics would be added, as well. The Army had also planned to place a fourth, as yet undefined version of the future soldier, the Land Warrior Advanced Capability, with FCS block II. A date for fielding the second block of the Objective Force had not been locked in, but was projected to occur between 2012 and 2015.




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