|Future Force Warrior|
Warrior and Air Warrior
|Place of origin||United States|
Future Force Warrior is a United States military advanced technology demonstration project that is part of the Future Combat Systems project. The FFW project seeks to create a lightweight, fully integrated infantryman combat system. It is one technology demonstration project in a series of network-centric, next-generation infantry combat projects the U.S. military have developed over the past decade, such as the Soldier Integrated Protective Ensemble technology demonstration program, Land Warrior, and Transformation of the United States Army.
The Future Force Warrior concept envisions the radical use of technologies such as nanotechnology, powered exoskeletons, and magnetorheological fluid-based body armor to provide the infantry with significantly higher force multiplier than the opposing force. However, the stated concept is not U.S. Army doctrine, and is not intended to answer every situation that Army After Next (the Army's buzzword for future fighting forces) would face; rather, the concept is meant to serve as an end goal to strive to reach or to compromise with current technologies and to stir imagination and dialogue on how these technologies and concepts can help soldiers in the near future.
The first phase of the project involves a development of the technologies to help reduce the soldier's fighting load and power requirements and improving the soldier's protection, lethality, and environmental and situational awareness, with planned deployment in 2010, to serve the Army's short-term needs. The Army's plan is to introduce the subsystems in "spirals" every two years, instead of one large rollout every ten years. The U.S. military hopes to develop a fully realized end product sometime in 2032, incorporating research from U.C. Berkeley's BLEEX exoskeleton project and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies into a final design.
The Headgear Subsystem, described in the Concept by FFW development team at Natick as Information Central, is the situational awareness hub of the system. It would include integrated tactical processing by providing maps, routes, and data with a 180° emissive visor display, high bandwidth wireless communications, microelectronic/optics combat sensor suite that provides 360° situational awareness, and integrated small arms protection.
In the current development program, the FFW Advanced Technology Demonstrator (ATD), this subsystem is labeled Sensors & Communications Vision. Its current capabilities would provide networked FFW-equipped small units with robust team communications using JTRS Cluster 5 Soldier Radio Waveform, state-of-the-art distributed and fused sensors, organic tactical intelligence/collection assets, enhanced situational understanding, embedded training, on-the-move planning, and linkage to other Future Combat System assets.
The FFW project aims to help protect the soldier by providing full-body bullet and fragmentation protection. In the original concept, the Combat Uniform Subsystem, also known as Survivability Central, is subdivided into three layers, the Protective Outer Layer, the Power Centric Layer, and the Life Critical Layer.
Currently, under the Survivability Vision given by the Army's ATD, bullet-resistant armor provides protection to the upper arms, the upper legs and the chest and abdomen. These are currently made from bullet-resistant fibers such as Kevlar and hard ceramics but a joint Army-MIT subprogram is developing a ferrofluid smart material composed of iron particles suspended in a silicon oil that harden within milliseconds when a current is applied. However, the development team at MIT has said that it will likely take five to ten years before the substance is made truly bullet resistant. They are also looking into a material called M5 fiber which is much stronger in the fields of slash, ballistic, and fire protection and is much lighter than Kevlar.
In addition, Armor Holdings, Inc. has developed a product that is similar to the Army-MIT program, a "Shear-Thickening Liquid" armor additive produced from a mixture of polyethylene glycol, a polymer found in laxatives and other consumer products, and nanobits of silica, or purified sand. When struck with a significant impact, the armor stiffens instantly into a shield, then reverts to its liquid state just as fast when the energy from the projectile dissipates. The new armor, originally envisioned to be spread on like peanut butter, is instead sprayed onto Kevlar in ultra-thin coats. Armor Holdings planned to begin to promote this new armor in 2007, but it is not sure if this will be used as a substitute for the Army's Survivability Vision.
In the original FFW Concept, the Weapon Subsystem, nicknamed Lethality Central, is a pistol-like combat weapon used for both indirect fire and direct fire. Weighing 5 pounds (2.3 kg) and using Metal Storm firearms technology, the pepper-box weapon fires 15 mm cold-launched, guided rounds stacked in 4 tubes with another tube loaded with high velocity 4.6 mm projectiles as a close combat personal defense weapon.
Recently, the Crye Associates Modular Rifle - Caseless (MR-C) has been projected as the standard infantry weapon to be used as in conjunction with the Future Force Warrior system. By most accounts, it is likely to be chambered in 6.8 mm caseless ammunition and a 45 round magazine. At this time, no actual working model has been produced and the only speculations available are Crye-produced mockups and the MR-Cs featured in the video game Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter and its sequel.
The H&K USP or the Sig Arms P229 were stated to become the new standard sidearm in the next 2 years. However, this is now unlikely as a new contract for 450,000 M9 pistols was announced by Beretta at the 2009 SHOT Show.
The FFW will also have a new experimental weapon called the ElectroDart. It is a type of gun which delivers electric shocks to the opposing enemy through wires when the gun is fired. The voltage of the gun is roughly 50,000 volts.
Under the FFW ATD, the Army's Lethality Vision proposes an integrated, advanced, lightweight weapons system with fire control software and hardware that is optimized for urban combat. The infantryman would be able to synchronize direct and indirect fires from Future Combat System and other networked platforms.
The Lightweight Small Arms Technologies program to develop a family of small arms based on licensed Heckler & Koch G11 technologies using either composite-cased telescoping ammunition or caseless ammunition is intended to be compatible with the Future Force Warrior system.
WPSM is an on-board physiological and medical sensor suit that would collect and monitor information regarding vital signs such as body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, hydration and stress levels, sleep status, body positioning and workload capacity of the warrior. If necessary, the WPSM can notify medics and commanders if the soldier has been wounded or has become fatigued.
Under the Advanced Technology Demonstration program, the physiological sensors of the WPSM are part of the Mobility, Sustainability and Human Performance Vision. The Army's overall vision for this unit would be to provide "On the Move hydration" and hydration monitoring, as well as monitoring of the soldier's cognitive states, blood pressure, blood rate, stress levels, overall well-being, and much more.
The sensors used for WPSM are being developed as part of the soldiers Army Combat Shirt, ACS. Several companies are now supplying this technology as a stand alone system for PSM for first responders and soldiers . This early role out of the technology is seen as the correct approach of the Future Force Warrior program as it enables the technology to be used in real world environments and further application learning in parallel to larger system integration. Cost is a major barrier to FFW and the sooner technologies become Commercial off the Shelf, COTS, the sooner wider deployment is possible.
The Micro-climate Conditioning Subsystem, built into the Life Critical Layer, is a network of narrow tubing that would provide 100 watts of heating or cooling to the soldier.
Currently, the Future Force Warrior Cooling System (FFW-CS) being developed, circulates chilled water through a special heat-transfer garment. The cooled circulating fluid pulls metabolic heat from the soldier's body and transfers it into the environment through its condenser. The main condenser unit can provide 120 W cooling power in a 95 °F (35 °C) environment, with an average power consumption of 35 W and weight of 3.5 pounds (1.6 kg), excluding the power source. A fully functional demonstration prototype was exhibited in 2008.
The Power Subsystem, built into the Power Centric Layer, would be fed by the Duration Central, a 2 to 20 watt Micro Turbine fueled by a liquid hydrocarbon fuel pack. According to the concept, ten ounces of fuel would power the soldier's integrated electronics ensemble for up to 6 days. Polymeric nanofiber battery patches embedded in the headgear and weapon provide back-up power for three hours.
Listed under the Power Vision in the Advanced Technology Demonstrator, the current specifications ask for 24-hour autonomous individual operation and 72-hour continuous autonomous team operations, with a high density, low weight/volume, self-generating/re-generating, reliable, safe power source.
Air Warrior is the U.S. Army’s next-generation aircrew ensemble, with the final product intended to provide life support, ballistic protection, and nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) protection in mission-configurable modules, and is being developed with interoperability in mind. The system consists of components integrated to maximize safe aircraft operation and sustain aircrews throughout the flight environment.
Block 1 of the Air Warrior system provided an initial system capability including the development, procurement, and fielding of a micro climate cooling system, an integrated survival gear and ballistic protection system, improved over-water protective equipment, and a light-weight chemical and biological protection ensemble. The ongoing Block 2 technology insertion program provides an Electronic Data Manager and an Aircrew Wireless Intercom System.
General Dynamics C4 Systems is the Block 3 Systems Integrator. The Block 3 system is focused on increasing force effectiveness by improving situational awareness and survivability with features similar to those of the Headgear Subsystem.
The Air Warrior Block 3 system is intended to be compatible with multiple helicopter types, including the CH-47 Chinook, OH-58D Kiowa Warrior, AH-64 Apache and UH-60 Blackhawk. Additional Block 3 capabilities are being defined through the requirements analysis and roadmap phase.
Microclimate Cooling allows for extended flight time in MOPP4, Integrated helmet system across all platforms; includes improved hearing protection, Day/Night HMD, advanced NVG, maxillofacial shield, passive and agile laser eye protection, nuclear flash protection and external audio, Hands-free wireless intercom communications between dismounted aircrew members and pilots, Tailorable NBC protection for all levels of MOPP configurations, Water survival capabilities include a low profile floatation collar, an integrated one-man raft, oxygen supply for emergency underwater breathing and an anti-exposure suit, Survival gear carrier is fully compatible with ballistic protection body armor, Tailorable placement for personal defensive weapon and survival/egress knife, Electronic data manager increases situational awareness; integrates with BFT on aircraft and AMPS Mission planning system, Survival radio for secure position reporting and over the horizon communications capability, Extraction harness and safety restraint integrated with survival gear carrier, Enhanced survivability of aircrews via improved flame and chemical/biological protection, Hands-free breakaway connections for emergency egress, Tailorable to support operations in all geographic regions and environmental conditions and to accommodate varying threat levels.