(1 September 2006) -- The German Bundeswehr has contracted with Rheinmetall to develop an expanded version of one its most important modernization projects, "Future Soldier System". This multi-million euro development contract is expected to culminate in large-volume procurement orders starting in 2009, when serial production is set to commence. The system is destined to form a key part of the personal equipment of German soldiers at home and abroad.
Dubbed "Future Soldier - Expanded System" (IdZ-ES), this state-of-the-art technology programme seeks to enhance materially the efficiency of infantry forces across the operational spectrum, while simultaneously reducing the risk for individual soldiers on the modern battlefield.
The IdZ-ES order underscores Rheinmetall Defence's role as a technology pacesetter in the process of force transformation. Rheinmetall is already playing a critical part in developing similar systems on behalf of the armed forces of Canada and France (ISSP and FELIN).
As Klaus Eberhardt, Chairman of the Executive Board of Rheinmetall AG, points out, "We're convinced that the Future Soldier system order lays the groundwork for long-term, intensive cooperation in equipping the hard-hitting, fast moving forces that are going to play a key role in future crisis reaction missions. What's more, the Bundeswehr order is an impressive reference, which should help us in winning export orders."
Digitized equipment for networked infantrymen
A comprehensive equipment concept for the individual soldier, IdZ-ES encompasses a full range of voice and other communication systems. Moreover, it can be integrated into the German Army's FuInfoSys command and information system. Fully compliant with NATO standards, its outstanding compatibility means that it can be readily adapted to the armed forces of Germany's allies.
The high-tech items of equipment carried by the infantryman are all carefully tailored to the concept: the computer, sensors, helmet system with display and voice radio, navigation aids, body armour and carrying system.
Fully digitized, the modular communication equipment enables transmission of voice, data and video. A GPS-integrated digital display permits real-time depiction of the situation on the ground, which can be monitored at all echelons of command. Moreover, Rheinmetall's "Interconnected Command Control Communications Computer Unit" (IC4U) enables real-time exchange of data between individual infantrymen, the section vehicle and relevant networks.
In addition, the contract encompasses development of a wide array of sensor packages for fire control and mine detection. Rheinmetall is also working with other project partners to develop a new visor-equipped helmet, together with a system for monitoring the soldier's health status.
The development contract also includes integration of IdZ-ES technology into various armoured systems such as the new German infantry fighting vehicle Puma and the new armoured personnel carrier Boxer as well as lightweight air-portable combat vehicles. Rheinmetall is to furnish the Bundeswehr with two IdZ-ES system demonstrators in 2008, bringing the development contract to a close.
In the subsequent procurement phase, Germany's infantry, armoured infantry, air force security troops and naval special operations units will be outfitted with the new system.