Army, BAE Systems accelerate AMPV networking tech
- By Kris Osborn
- Jul 13, 2017
The Army and BAE Systems are launching an intensified effort to improve networking hardware and software technologies for the emerging Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV).
The new infantry carrier, first delivered to the Army at the end of last year, is built to accommodate the latest force tracking systems, software programmable radio, electronic warfare technologies and satcom networks such as Warfighter Information Network – Tactical (WIN-T).
A $15 million modification to a current BAE Systems contract will accelerate integration of software patches, hardware fixes, and a wide range of survivability or mission-enhancing modifications into the vehicle. The increased network engineering on the vehicle is expected to be complete by 2019.
Although designed to replace the Vietnam era M113 infantry carriers, the new AMPV is configured with advanced technologies and reinforced armor to prepare for major power, force-on-force mechanized warfare. For this reason, an ability to rapidly upgrade networking and sensor technology well into the future is important for the vehicle to function for decades into the future, developers explained.
For instance, the Army’s WIN-T Inc. 2, vehicle-mounted force tracking technologies and advanced sensors area are designed to accommodate new modifications such as a reduced hardware footprint, data consolidation or fortified cyber hardening.
This future hardening, which includes adding security to both its high bandwidth networking radio network and satcom connectivity, is intended to protect the AMPV’s mission command functions on-the-move from advanced electronic warfare (EW) attacks and other kinds of intrusions and jamming efforts. Recent data consolidation efforts with WIN-T Inc. 2 have substantially reduced the weight of the system and therefore enhanced mission scope, speed and flexibility.
Developers from General Dynamics Mission Systems emphasize that the WIN-T network is constructed to be upgradeable moving into the future; this is intended to help enable BAE and Army integrators to advance the vehicle over time.
WIN-T Inc. 2, currently under review as part of a comprehensive Army network review, includes an ability to use networking technologies across the force in real-time while on-the-move across a wide range of functions. The system is built to accommodate directional radio frequency adjustments to fend off jamming attacks and enable chat, video exchange, intelligence sharing and radio satcom connectivity down to the company level in combat.
The AMPV does have a DUKE v3 electronic jammer engineered to identify and jam the signal of an electronically-detonated roadside bomb, and additional EW protection technologies are expected to be integrated in coming years as the Army strengthens preparations against possible confrontations with near-peer rivals. For instance, Army engineers regularly add new software to electronic warfare technologies in order to help defend against new threats.
While some observers, such as a recent review from the Pentagon’s Director, Operational Test and Evaluation, have questioned whether the WIN-T network could with stand near-peer electronic warfare threats, developers emphasize that common standards will continue to allow upgrades and fixes. Expert observers also say the network has met all requirements and performed quite well in Iraq and Afghanistan.
WIN-T Inc. 2 also incorporates an intelligence technology called Tactical Ground Reporting System, or TIGR, able to identify problem areas along a mission route or identify locations of known enemy activity.
Force-tracking systems are another area of networking focus for the AMPV. New uplink and downlink satcom technology, such as Blue Force Tracker 2, greatly reduce latency when showing friendly and enemy icons on a digital map. Joint Battle Command Platform (JBCP) is another example of a recent software enhancement designed to bring a new generation of chat, messaging and digital mapping to vehicles on the move.
The Army's AMPV is designed to transport troops under armor, conduct reconnaissance missions, evacuate injured soldiers, fire weapons and withstand major enemy ground-war attacks, service officials said.
Several AMPV variants are planned, including a General Purpose Vehicle, Mortar Carrier Vehicle, Mission Command Vehicle, Medical Evacuation Vehicle and Medical Treatment Vehicle.
Overall, the Army plans to build roughly 3,000 AMPVs at a cost of $1 million to $1.7 million each.
The General Purpose AMPV transports two crew members and six passengers. It is armed with a 50-cal crew-served weapon and can carry one injured Soldier on a litter.
Kris Osborn is a former editor of Defense Systems.