In recent months, the US Army has been making leaps and bounds into the incorporation of smart technology into the wider battlefield network, under what has been called “an accelerated approval process.”
Speaking ahead of his address at Defence IQ’s Tactical Communications 2012 event in London this April, Michael McCarthy, director of operations for the Army’s Brigade Modernization Command Mission Command Complex (MCC), said that the plan was to give troops the right phones for the right reasons.
“It’s not just to give them another shiny thing to hang on their equipment carriers,” McCarthy explained, indicating that advanced analysis is underway for all soldiers in theatre to eventually be issued a smart phone, provided that the long-term costs are beneficial.
A few of these devices have already been made available to forces in theatre, with 40 touch screen phones hosting an experimental secure network dedicated to US bases two years ago. By March, 50 more will be shipped out, along with 75 tablet computers.
As standard-issue equipment, the phones should allow units to share live video, GPS coordinates, voice communication, and ultimately build an accurate integrated picture of the battlefield.
The Army is also continuing to invest and develop its own App store, providing specialist platforms for soldiers, which includes foreign language translation and equipment location services.
Open-source Google Android software has reportedly been considered the preferred foundation for the technology, despite Apple iPads proving popular among other aspects of the military, as well as to other forces worldwide.
Tablet devices are also expected to be certified components of several global future soldier programmes, including India’s F-INSAS and France’s FÉLIN, and have been incorporated successfully into the British Artillery training programme.