The most important objective for a soldier out in the field is to survive and to complete their task. A soldier carries a lot of equipment and many times deploy missions with heavy load. To adapt is a matter of life-and-death, and efficiency for the soldier as well as systems for managing and monitoring the battlefield are therefore crucial.
Saabs 9Land Soldier sPAD is a lightweight hand-held computer with touch-screen that weighs just about 800 grams including cables and pouches. The system has also been designed to be flexible and easy to use, even in stressful situations and in harsh environments. With its rugged design it is ideal to support the dismounted soldier in every scenario in the battlefield.
“Every soldier is a sensor and to effectively and smartly formulate a situational awareness picture from the frontline, for both high command as well as the individual unit in the field, gives the soldier’s own forces an advantage, says Marcus Zakrisson, working with solider systems at Saab. “Knowing where you are, where other members of the force are and being able to tell each other about the enemy’s exact position are essential and will have a substantial effect on the mission and battle outcome”.
Learn how the system works – a scenario
A soldier has been instructed to patrol a troubled area and starts to plan the mission in sPAD, for instance by loading the system with the latest map data, routes and points of interest etc. A translation software application to facilitate eventual dialogue with locals along the patrol is also available, and a photo library with some high value targets. The soldier carries a heavy load but with the lightweight and smooth sPAD as an integrated part of the equipment, the solider can still be flexible and effective.
“A first-rate situational awareness is achieved without adding burden to the soldier”, Marcus explains.
Using the sPAD the soldier navigates in the mission area and other friendly units are visible on the map using so-called Blue Force Tracking. Navigation and messaging is supported via audible commands directly in the headset and on the tactical user interface. The soldier might find a water crossing that can be marked on the map and sent to other soldiers’ devices, or perhaps there is a useful helicopter landing spot available in the area that can be marked and reported back to headquarters.
The mission lasts for a long time and in the mission area it is getting dark. The illumination level adapts automatically to prevailing conditions and the soldier can use it with a night vision device. The power consumption is low so the batteries last for a very long time. Naturally the hand-held device touch screen is compatible with gloves. At one point the sPAD receives an order from the soldier’s superior regarding a new task and an area on the map to go and scout.
The soldier now arrives at the spot where it is possible to observe the enemy. Using the compass functionality in the tactical user interface the soldier can take a bearing of the enemy. The soldier then receives a bearing from another soldier in the same squad and the tactical user interface calculates the exact position of the enemy and passes the information along to the Battlefield Management System in the headquarters. The headquarters can now command air support and support soldiers on the ground.
“All the information is shared on the network and orders and information can also be linked with a higher command and control system. With the sPAD you have almost unlimited possibilities to make the life of the soldiers on the ground easier and obtain superior information on the battlefield”, ends Marcus.
Soon to be used in Canada
From the users point of view the sPAD system a lightweight rugged solution that can enhance the soldier’s situation awareness and increasing the soldier’s survivability. The sPAD can be used in very cold conditions as well as in tropical areas of the world and is suitable for rapid forces operations everywhere. Soon it will be a part of Rheinmetall’s soldier system Argus when supplied to the Canadian Armed Forces. Saab is delivering the electronical suite consisting of tactical user interface, hub and cables. The Canadian Armed Forces will integrate the soldier system in different phases and will eventually be equipped with up to 4,000 units.