Rheinmetall's Gladius futuristic soldier system connects troops to network

The German Bundeswehr has placed a follow-on order worth 84 million Euros (about $113 million U.S. dollars) for a futuristic soldier system known as Gladius designed by Rheinmetall which the country's soldiers will use in Afghanistan, the company said Feb. 8.

The follow-on order is for 60 infantry sections that will outfit a total of 600 soldiers, the company said. The Bundeswehr placed an initial order in 2012 for 30 systems that would equip 300 troops. Delivery of the new systems will take place in two lots consisting of thirty systems each, the first one in the middle of 2013, another at the end of the year.

Two contingents of German troops will train on the new system up to June 2013 before heading to Afghanistan, the announcement said.

The system, which was originally known as "Future Soldier," has a holistic design that seeks to bring a 10-man infantry section and its vehicle into a network-enabled operational loop, the company said. The network--which consists of reconnaissance, command and control components, and weapons--enables rapid exchange of information as well as shared situational awareness as the basis for planning and conducting operations.

A soldier wearing Gladius receives all relevant data concerning the tactical situation, the position of friendly forces, the mission, and system status. It includes a Global Positioning System (GPS) and an inertial navigation system as well as a magnetic compass, facilitating reliable orientation on the ground.
 
In futher testing and development, Rheinmetall has refined the system's ergonomic features by reducing its weight, shrinking its components and improving the overall integration of those components, the company said.

The modular battle dress uniform, body armour and harness system provide excellent protection from detection in the visual and infrared spectrum as well as from the weather, and from biological and chemical agents. Flame-retardant equipment and vector protection round out the system’s high level of protection.

The system is integrated into an “electronic backbone” that contains the radio, core computer, batteries and a GPS module.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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