The newest concepts for lightweight, lethal uniform systems to be worn by the future soldiers in battle were displayed at the Russell Senate Building here.
Two uniform systems are under development. The Future Force Warrior system will be available for fielding to soldiers in 2010. The Vision 2020 Future Warrior system, which will follow on the concept of the 2010 Future Force Warrior system, is scheduled to be ready 10 years later.
The two new uniform systems are being developed under the Future Combat System Program. "This Army initiative will develop and demonstrate revolutionary capabilities for the future soldiers in battle," said Jean-Louis "Dutch" DeGay, a Soldier Systems Center representative.
The new systems include a weapon, head-to-toe individual protection, onboard computer network, soldier-worn power sources, and enhanced human performance.
"The Future Force Warrior will be a responsive and formidable member of an invincible battle space team," DeGay explained, describing the system scheduled to be fielded by 2010.
"The 2010 Future Force Warrior system will meet the more immediate, short-term demands of our fighting warriors in the battle space, while the 2020 model will remind you of an ominous creature out of a science fiction movie," DeGay said. He added that the system will leverage all the technologies and lessons learned from Afghanistan and Iraq.
Soldiers deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq carry large amounts of external weight, often 120 pounds or more, to be battle-ready. DeGay said the new uniform system -- from head to toe -- weighs 50 pounds.
The body armor of the new uniforms will absorb the shock of a bullet much better than current bulletproof vests. "The hard body armor has been stood off of the body by 2½ to 3 inches, so when the soldier is shot, the force is more evenly distributed to decrease injuries such as broken ribs," DeGay described.
Soldiers will be able to chat online with each other while they are walking down a jungle trail. The new system has the ability for each soldier to be tied into tactical local and wide-area networks with an onboard computer that sits at the base of the soldier's back. "We essentially call the 2010 soldier an 'F- 16 on legs' because it gives the soldier the same capabilities as they would normally have on aircraft and other platforms," DeGay explained. The F-16 is an Air Force fighter jet.
Soldiers will also be able to share data with vehicles, aircraft and other individual soldiers. "If an Apache helicopter was deployed forward and recorded real-time video of the enemy, the helicopter can send the video back to an individual soldier to observe," he said, with obvious enthusiasm and excitement for the new uniform system.
As has been seen in science-fiction movies, a dropdown piece of eyewear from the helmet allows the soldier to see a 17-inch computer screen displaying anything relayed to the soldier. "This eyewear device is see-through, so it hangs out in space," DeGay said. This allows soldiers to take in all supporting data while keeping both hands on their weapons.
Soldiers wearing the new system will have no need for an external microphone to communicate. "The helmet has sensors that register vibrations of the cranial cavity so I don't have to have a microphone in my mouth. That allows the soldier to control the entire computer via voice-activation," DeGay explained. Soldiers will be able to cycle through onboard menus via their eyewear device.
The onboard computer will monitor soldiers' overall physiological picture of how they are performing in the battle zone. "Warrior Physiological Status Monitoring System gives the soldier's body core temperature, skin temperature, heart rate, whether the soldier is standing or prone, and how much water the soldier has drunk," DeGay said.