Press commentary: Gladius für die Infanterie der Zukunft
Following the successful six-year development of the German Future Soldier System “Infanterist der Zukunft – Erweitertes System (IdZ-ES)” (Future Soldier System – Enhanced System) by an industrial consortium led by Rheinmetall Defence, the first lot of 30 systems of GLADIUS, equipping 300 riflemen, was delivered at the end of 2012. Further 60 systems are to follow this year.
The development and production of this highly sophisticated system required the interdisciplinary management of extremely varied professional specialisations and structures, both in the industry and within the Bundeswehr, similar to the integrated project teams (IPT) approach that was implemented in the new procurement process according to CPM. This made it possible to realise the project within the time and cost framework, as Bodo Garbe, member of the Management Board at Rheinmetall Defence, noted.
The rollout of “IdZ-ES” marks the first-ever implementation of a comprehensive systems approach for a soldier system, in which the individual system’s components have been painstakingly matched to one another so as to achieve optimum overall performance of the infantry squad when performing its variety of operational tasks. The emphasis was laid on weight reduction, miniaturisation and improved integration and modularisation.
Increasing combat effectiveness, improving command and control capabilities and survivability at the squad level were the most important criteria for the development of leading-edge components.
The clothing, including a functional, sweat and heat absorbing and flame retardant base layer, can be adjusted to the most severe climatic conditions while providing cold and wet weather equipment in order to increase the survivability of the individual rifleman. The soldier’s body protection against shrapnel and blast injuries as well as against bullets can be increased by various protection layers adding up to Class IV protection according to the German Army’s requirements, depending on task and mission of the squad.
The heart and brain of “IdZ-ES” is the core system with merges power supply and command and control (C4I) functions in a specifically designed “electronic backpack”, which monitors the processes of all individual components within the core computer.
A key feature is the squad radio communication (data and voice simultaneously), allowing the integration into networked operations, providing the link to the squad’s support or combat vehicle (e.g. Boxer multi-role armoured vehicle or the Puma infantry fighting vehicle).
The squad leader is additionally being equipped with a C4I system, which essentially consists of a portable, touchscreen operated computer and a hand-held radio set, which connects to higher command levels (platoon / company) and provides the squad leader additional C2 features.
The main weaponry is the G36 assault rifle, modularly adapted to the requirements of the “IdZ-ES”. Picatinny rails enable mounting of a variety of targeting and sighting devices for acquiring targets in daylight, at night or in poor visibility.
All control elements (i.e. buttons) of the system are arranged in a simple, intuitive way, enabling the soldier to operate, for example, the system’s radio without lowering his weapon: he can engage targets with his rifle while receiving/issuing orders through his squad radio.
In his address during the handover ceremony, Lieutenant-General Kasdorf emphasised that equipping soldiers with the best that a high-technology country like Germany has to offer, should be a common task of the entire nation. With “IdZ-ES”, he added, the infantry now more than ever has the capabilities to successfully withstand the threats that are imposed onto them by symmetric and asymmetric warfare, as well as to meet the challenges when operating in rough or urban terrain, in darkness, poor visibility and unaccustomed climatic conditions.
With “IdZ-ES”, the German industry has taken a leading position in modern soldier systems, added Bode Garbe. This system dramatically improves the capabilities of dismounted soldiers in combat in all scenarios. All system’s functions can easily and intuitively be operated even under combat stress without imposing additional stress onto the soldier.
The training of the first squads of the 23rd Mountain Infantry Brigade was started and conducted by the Army’s Infantry Battalion 12 at the end of 2012. The official handover to 23rd Brigade’s Infantry Task Force, foreseen to deploy to Afghanistan in mid-2103, is being followed by extensive training exercises, enabling each riflemen to have mastered his GLADIUS Future Soldier System before deploying to his 6 month mission.
The 60 additional systems have been ordered in January 2013 and will initially be used to train units in Germany and later on to deploy with successor task forces to Afghanistan. In the medium-term, 30 systems will be either in deployment, or in pre-deployment training and or being refurbished after having returned from deployment.
Source: Gerhard Heiming; Europäische Sicherheit & Technik, April 2013 issue