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Germany to field new soldier system in Afghanistan

Canada’s Integrated Soldier System Project might have hit a bump, but the German Bundeswehr continues down the networked, high tech road with its Gladius soldier system.

The program began in 2012 with the introduction of 30 Gladius systems, enough to equip 300 troops. In January, the German military awarded the Rheinmetall Group an €84 million contract to provide 60 more systems, enough for 600 soldiers.

Gladius will see its first combat in Afghanistan. Soldiers are now receiving the 2012 order and will be training with the new system until June when they are deployed. Last month’s contract will be delivered in two lots of 30 systems in 2013, ensuring the following two rotations of Bundeswehr troops to deploy to Afghanistan can test the equipment well in advance.

Rheinmetall says Galdius, originally known as “Infanterist der Zukunft” or “Future Soldier,” is the most advanced system of its kind, especially its networkability.

“Gladius is intended first and foremost to bring the 10-man infantry section and its vehicle into the network-enabled operational loop,” the company said in a press release. “This network, consisting 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. The individual soldier receives all relevant data concerning the tactical situation, the position of friendly forces, the mission, and system status. It includes a GPS and an inertial navigation system as well as a magnetic compass, facilitating reliable orientation on the ground.”

The system is built around an “electronic backbone” that contains the radio, core computer, batteries and GPS module and was designed with ergonomic features in mind, especially weight reduction and integration of individual components.

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