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Home | Programmes | Romanian Functional Demonstrator Completed (ROMANIA)

Country flagRomanian Functional Demonstrator Completed

Romania’s continuing work on soldier modernisation is ongoing with the next key step being the finalisation of operational requirements

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  Romania has found that the loads carried by deployed soldiers significantly exceed advisable limits  © DoD
  Romania has found that the loads carried by deployed soldiers significantly exceed advisable limits © DoD

“Right now we are in the phase of qualifying [Romanian Infantry Fighting System (RIFS)] operational requirements,” according to Major Tiberius Tomoiaga, RIFS Programme Manager, Military Equipment and Technologies Research Agency, “This phase is taking longer than we thought. The first operational requirements were issued three years ago.” Romania is also participating in the European Defence Agency’s (EDA) work on soldier modernisation, which is also developing future operational requirements and this has prompted delays. He continued, “Right now our guys in charge of national operational requirements are waiting for those [EDA] operational requirements to be finished so they can harmonise our national operational requirements with EDA ones.”

The Agency has five research centres, focussing on weapon systems, C4I, CBRN, the Navy and Air Force, with work on soldier modernisation taking place across a number of these facilities. The Agency is positioned between the operational requirements and the technical specifics for acquisition, responsible for testing and developing products to assess future technologies.

As a concept, RIFS has four main subsystems: Weapon, C4I, Soldier Equipment and Power. All are carried by the soldier. A fifth subsystem is designated Support, which brings in diverse elements such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), simulators and other training devices.

Romania has embarked on a number of international activities on soldier modernisation, including work on the EDA’s Combat Equipment for the Dismounted Soldier (CEDS) programme and NATO’s RTO 178 TRG 043 Integration and Interoperability Issues for Dismounted Soldier Systems and NATO RTO 179 RTG 044 Utilisation/Dynamic Control for Adaptive Camouflage Materials.

“Like all the other countries, we have struggled with weight and we are trying to keep our mission equipment to one third of the body weight, about 25-26 kg,” said Major Tomoiaga. The reality of combat loads for Romania is also very much in line with other countries’ findings, with Romanian forces deployed to Afghanistan, carrying loads two to three times this figure.

To drive development further along, a functional demonstrator has been produced by the Agency for further experimentation and assessment in support of RIFS. This consists of six main blocks of equipment.

An integrated helmet system provides ballistic protection, night vision and a micro-display. Major Tomoiaga said that there was continuing discussion on whether there should be one or two eye night vision. The team has also opted for a Helmet Mounted Display for C4I information.

The communications systems comprises the Harris RF7800S and an 802.11g device, the latter for used for communication in the immediate vicinity, transmitting for example, GPS co-ordinates to the team leader with the team leader having the position on his digital display for every member of his team.

Communications systems will implement NIFF and will require said Major Tomoiaga, better data management and filtering and in the future, improved C4ISR integration. Weight will also be an issue, with additional systems requiring additional power and more batteries and if those are secondary rechargeable cells rather than primary cell batteries, the former will need to be carried back from the mission. A further C4ISR example is the use of UAVs. The Agency has developed a small UAV system for soldiers, which requires two men to carry it – one to carry the UAV, one to carry the ground control station. Major Tomoiaga said that decisions will ultimately have to be made on whether the improvement to the ISR picture is worth the additional burden on the soldiers.

For ballistic protection, a new modular ballistic vest with adaptable pockets, shoulder mounted quick release system and removable collar has been used. Knee protection is also provided. The helmet is the design acquired by the Army in 2005 although to date only 5-6000 have been acquired. The new helmet weighs 1.5-1.8Kg. A limit has been put on additional weight to limit it to 2.5Kg as during a blast, any additional weight could result in serious and/or fatal injures, with work being undertaken to reduce the accessories mounted on the head to what is deemed absolutely necessary.

Body armour is also a pre-existing design, with the RIFS team effectively limited in their scope to improving the ergonomics of the vest, to better enable it to become load bearing device. The body armour also needs to be adapted to protect the power systems but also allow access. Major Tomoiaga said, “The batteries need to be changed very quickly but at the same time they need to be protected. We know what happens when a bullet hits a battery. If it doesn’t explode, it gets very hot. It’s another challenge.”

A modular design, the vest’s weight tops out at 4.2Kg, the maximum plate weight being 3.2Kg with the total weight with the vest and two plates being 10.6Kg. Major Tomoiaga said, “Soldiers on patrol don’t care about weight, they care about ballistic protection.”

The current BDU and DCU type camouflages are expected to be replaced by a multicolour digital design. Textiles are also being included that will reduce thermal signature and provide a degree of CBRN protection and better ventilation. Work is also on going in terms of adding cabling to textiles within the vest, along with standard connectors.

The weapon system is based around a 5.56mm version of the AK47 with red dot sight, laser pointer and integration of image intensification and thermal imaging systems. Its empty weight is 3.73Kg. Work is also ongoing on replacing the current weapons system, based on one that meets soldier requirements but also avoids overloading, based on optimum weigh distribution which is being informed by national and RTO studies. Romania is looking at the need for different ammunition requirements, based on mission profiles.

The soldier’s worn computer operates Windows XP Pro using a Transmeta Crusoe 1GHz processor. It hosts a C2 application for map display and supports navigation, messaging and video inputs from the weapon sight. A navigation module supports standard GPS and DRM capabilities.

The Agency has also developed a number of other equipments to support future soldier requirement. In terms of CBRN protection a self ventilated suit has been developed which weighs 10kg and with a functional duration of six hours, a numerical display personal dosimeter which weighs 200g and has a functional duration of 120 hours and a self adhesive individual strip, which is used to ensure the identification of the main nerve and blister chemical warfare agents in liquid form and which operates by fixing it to individual suits, protective suits, military equipment or any other surface.

A thermal imaging sight has also been developed in the 7.5-13.5 micron band, with a weight of 1.5Kg with the battery included. The device has a detection performance of man sized targets at 750m, recognition at 250m and identification at 100m.

Major Tomoiaga said, “This sight was developed in our Agency. To have mass production we need to transfer the technology. The big problem is there is only one private company that produces this in Romania but because of the economic crisis, it is possible that there will be no company to produce this.”

Work on the training systems has included the use of the Quandtum3D Expedition DI systems with VBS2 software from Bohemia Interactive. Major Tomoiaga explained that one of the main challenges for a soldier system will be the training. He emphasised that not every soldier, particularly those from rural environment will be familiar with modern Information Computer Technology which will reunite additional training.

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