Land Warrior

1990s History

In Land Warrior's first iteration, the US Government hired a defense contractor to build the system in a conventional way. The prime contractor was Raytheon Systems Company. Subcontractors included Motorola, Honeywell, Omega, GENTEX and Battelle. The program turned into a disaster, with the Pentagon nearly canceling the program entirely.

The Army first initiated the Land Warrior Program in August 1994, when the Commander, Aviation and Troop Command, approved the program for entry into the engineering and manufacturing development phase of the acquisition process. After competing the source-selection process, the Program Manager for the Land Warrior awarded an engineering and manufacturing development contract to Hughes Aircraft Company (subsequently Raytheon Systems Corporation). Initially, the Land Warrior Program was scheduled to begin operational testing in the third quarter of FY98.

In January 1996, when Land Warrior entered Engineering and Manufacturing Development the Army planned to use mature technologies, technologies requiring minimal development, to meet an urgent need to field equipment by September 2000. However, as development proceeded, the Army moved away from this strategy. It began pursuing technologies requiring considerable development. Ultimately, the Land Warrior program became more technologically challenging than the Army projected.

Several prototype LW systems underwent operational testing in 1996. Following the test, Soldiers commented that the system enhanced situational awareness, was user friendly and easy to learn, reduced Soldier workload, and improved squad communications. However, they recommended that the system be made lighter, have a more powerful battery, have better controls, and be made more rugged. Other technical and human factors issues that were identified included equipment comfort, equipment compatibility, and inadequate load-carrying design. Specifically, during field tests, soldiers had problems raising their heads to fire their weapons from the prone position because the pack attached to the load-carrying harness rode up and pressed against the back of their helmets. Results of these operational tests were ultimately used to modify the LW system in preparation for developmental testing, which began in 2001.

In April 1998, contractor-delivered Land Warrior prototypes failed several basic certification tests that would have permitted the system to proceed with development testing. Failed tests included an airborne certification test, an electromagnetic interference test, and a water immersion test. At the time the Land Warrior system included (1) laser range finder/digital compass, (2) wiring harness, (3) video sight, (4) helmet and helmet-mounted computer display, (5) modular body armor, (6) load-carrying equipment, (7) computer (hardware and software), and (8) radio (leader and soldier). All major Land Warrior subsystems featured some Land Warrior-unique components.Consequently, the Army rejected the prototypes and began restructuring the program.

Hardware problems encountered during developmental testing in April 1998 resulted in the the program manager halting further system development pending an overall program review. Based on the results of the program review performed during FY99, the program manager transferred responsibility for the system integration function from the prime contractor to the program manager, and reduced development by halting contractor development of the Land Warrior-unique load carrying equipment and body armor and using Government-off-the-shelf equipment instead, in turn increasing reliance on contractor-off-the-shelf electronics technology.

The first priority in Land Warrior was lethality. The second was survivability and the third, command and control. The program was initially slated to cost $2 billion when 45,000 sets of the equipment were fielded, expected between 2001-2014. The Marine Corps, Air Force and many foreign countries were interested in the system.

Based on advances in communications, sensors, and materials, the Land Warrior System integrated commercial, off-the-shelf technologies into a complete soldier system. For the first time, the soldier's equipment was being designed as if he or she was an individual, complete weapons platform. Each subsystem and component was designed to and for the soldier. The result: the first integrated soldier fighting system for the dismounted infantryman.

Land Warrior had several subsystems: the weapon, integrated helmet assembly, protective clothing and individual equipment, computer/radio, and software.

The Weapon Subsystem was built around the M16/M4 modular carbine. The weapon subsystem included key electrical optical components such as the TWS, video camera, and the laser rangefinder/digital compass (LRF/DC). The LRF/DC provided the soldier with range and direction information. When coupled with the individual location from GPS, the soldier had accurate target location when calling for indirect fire and combat identification. This system was intended to allow infantrymen to operate in all types of weather and at night. In conjunction with other components, a soldier could even shoot around corners without exposing himself to enemy fire.

The Integrated Helmet Assembly Subsystem (IHAS) used advanced materials to provide ballistic protection at less weight than the existing helmet shell. The integrated helmet assembly was lighter and more comfortable than the existing helmet. The IHAS's helmet mounted computer and sensor display were to be the soldier's interface to the other subsystems and to the digital battlefield. Through the helmet mounted display, the soldier could view computer-generated graphical data, digital maps, intelligence information, troop locations and imagery from his weapon-mounted Thermal Weapon Sight (TWS) and video camera. This new capability allowed the soldier to view around a corner, acquire a target, then fire the weapon without exposing himself, beyond one's arms and hands, to the enemy. By scanning an area with the weapon's thermal sight, the soldier would be able to see an area's characteristics, including terrain and enemy positions, and would be able to see through obscurants. The thermal images would appear on a miniature helmet-mounted display. The Night Sensor Display would integrate a helmet mounted display with an image intensifier for access to the computer sensors. This would allow the soldier to maneuver and engage targets under cover of darkness.

The Protective Clothing and Individual Equipment Subsystem consisted of a revolutionary backpack frame design based on state-of-the-art automotive racing technology which bent with the soldier's natural body movements. The cables are integrated into the frame were necessary for the soldier's computer/radio connections. The soldier could adjust the backpack frame to adjust the load distribution from the shoulders to the hips while on the move. A simple adjustment, yet it allowed the soldier to manage and carry the combat load more effectively and with less fatigue. The new LW body armor, like the helmet, provided improved ballistic protection at a reduced weight. The Land Warrior body armor included a modular upgrade plate to protect the soldier against the small arms threat. The protective clothing and individual equipment subsystem incorporated modular body armor and upgrade plates that could stop small-arms rounds fired point-blank.

The infantryman would attach the Computer/Radio Subsystem (CRS) to the load-bearing frame. Over this would go the rucksack for personal gear. The computer processor was fused with radios and a Global Positioning System locator. A hand grip wired to the pack and attached to the soldier's chest acted as a computer mouse and allowed the wearer to change screens, key on the radio, change frequencies and send digital information. The subsystem came in two flavors: The leader version with two radios and a flat panel display/keyboard, and soldier version with one radio. With the equipment, leaders and soldiers could exchange information. Soldiers using their weapon-mounted camera, for example, could send videos to their leaders. In the GEN II version, the computer and radio were to be combined and embedded in new web gear. The system would be built around a series of cards the size of credit cards, but slightly thicker.

The CRS was integrated into the backpack frame in two sections. The upper portion contained two radios, the squad radio and the soldier radio. The squad radio was based on a repackaged commercial radio and would be fully compatible with SINCGARS SIP. The soldier radio was based on a repackaged handheld commercial radio made by Motorola. This gave the soldier the ability to communicate with others in his squad, greatly improving situation awareness and survivability through increased command and control.

The lower portion of the backpack contained the computer and the global positioning system (GPS) modules. Integration of the GPS and radio into the CRS eliminated separate displays, controls and cases, thereby saving weight and reducing power requirements. Menu driven displays were controlled by the soldier from his Remote Input Pointing Device. This device was located on the chest strap and was operated by the touch of a finger. Some functions were controlled with two buttons located near his trigger finger, allowing the soldier to maintain a firing position. Imbedded into the load carrying frame were the antennas for the GPS and soldier radio. The open architecture of the CRS allowed direct insertion of future upgrades in both hardware and software.

The Land Warrior software subsystem addressed the soldier's core battlefield functions, display management, and mission equipment and supply. The software subsystem included tactical and mission support modules, maps and tactical overlays, and the ability to capture and display video images. The system also contained a power management module. Land Warrior would be interoperable on the digital battlefield. Designers set up the system in a such a way that it was intended to be updated as technology improved. The modular architecture allowed for direct insertion/replacement with technology upgrades. The software subsystem allowed the soldier to tailor the display, menus and functional operation of his system to his own mission needs and preferences.

The soldiers who would actually use Land Warrior had been consulted every step of the way. Prime contractor Raytheon worked with experts at the US Army Infantry Center at Fort Benning, Georgia, in designing the system. They took the system to the users to ensure the system was headed in the right direction. The rucksack had quick-release straps so an infantryman could just drop it if the need arises. One problem the Army had to overcome before fielding the system was its power source. The test batteries lasted about 150 minutes with all systems running. Individual portable power packs, possibly with form-fitting batteries that would be less obtrusive when worn as part of the soldier fighting harness, were being considered. Another possibility was development of a "sleep" mode that would automatically put the equipment on standby when not in use to conserve battery energy.

In order to be accepted by the Army, the Land Warrior System had weigh less than 80 pounds (including the TWS). This weight was selected to represent the existing load being carried by soldiers at the time, the weight the system was expected to replace. As of 2000 the weight of the system in development was 86 pounds.

Nearly 5,000 Land Warrior systems were to have been fielded by the end of 1999. First Unit Equipped (first system in the hands of soldiers) was scheduled for between 2000 and 2001. The Army planned on contracting for 34,000 systems plus spares. The total systems cost was estimated to be approximately $70,000 each in FY96 dollars.

LW was to be followed by a more elaborate soldier system, expected to be fielded in the year 2003 as part of the Generation II/21 CLW program. GEN II would be more compact, energy efficient, producible, affordable and survivable, and would be more easily integrated into the digitized battlefield.

In August 1998, the Army proposed an interim strategy based on the original design, following the failures in the April 1998 testing. The interim strategy would have extended development and delayed fielding by about 15 months. In November 1998, Land Warrior's estimated cost for research, development, test, evaluation and procurement increased from $1.4 billion to $2.1 billion for 34,000 systems. The November 1998 cost estimate for research, development, test, evaluation, and procurement was $2.1 billion, and total program cost was $3.5 billion. The $1.4 billion difference represented estimated operations and maintenance cost, much of which was for battery supplies and resupply, storage, and disposal.

However, the interim strategy was never implemented and in January and February of 1999, the Army began examining a new open system design strategy, one that relied more on equipment that was either commercially available or already in military use. Accordingly, the Army began seeking alternative approaches, with the goal of avoiding proprietary solutions to Land Warrior development problems. This revision of Land Warrior emphasized commercially available technology, such as Windows-based operating system software.

By the end 1999 the $2 billion project was on its deathbed. Raytheon had built a prototype called the "turtle shell" that was severely criticized by the General Accounting Office. GAO found that the system would not be fielded by September 2000 because crucial technologies could not be developed in time. The estimated cost to acquire 34,000 units had risen from $1.4 billion to $2.1 billion. Oversight responsibility in the Army remained unchanged despite development problems that threatened to lengthen the acquisition schedule and the inability of system prototypes to pass certification tests. Land Warrior would not operate with a key digitized battlefield system, Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and BelowBelow, the Army's principal digital command and control system at and below brigade level. Moreover, the Land Warrior Program had not solved technical and human factor problems that threatened to render the system ineffective. Problems included overweight equipment, inadequate battery power, uncertain battery logistics, inadequate load-carrying design and comfort, and electromagnetic interference.

In August 1999, the Army reduced Land Warrior procurement funding by about $340 million because of competing priorities and Land Warrior's development problems.

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Page last modified: 07-07-2011 02:44:06 ZULU