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  SoldierMod Volume 9 - 2012
Volume 9 Articles

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Air Warrior will complete by 2014 but driven by affordability constraints the Air Soldier programme has moved from a three to a two phase programme with the first phase now scheduled for fielding in 2015

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Air Soldier has moved from a three to a two increment programme.Photo: © DoD
Air Soldier has moved from a three to a two increment programme.Photo: © DoD

Air Soldier was restructured in December 2011 to deliver two “sub-increments” of capability as opposed to the original plan of three. The first fielding is scheduled in 2015, the second in 2018. This was accomplished while retaining the ability to meet all of the Army’s key performance requirements for the programme although some lower priority capabilities that were no longer affordable were eliminated. Remaining work on the predecessor programme; Air Warrior has centred on two key areas, SEPS and Aircraft Wireless Intercom System (AWIS) with fielding of Air Warrior scheduled to be completed by September 2014.

The Air Soldier Combat Capability Document had been endorsed by the Army Staff and gained Army Requirements Oversight Council approval prior to the change of strategy. With the new strategy, this doesn’t need to be resubmitted. Lt Colonel Ian Klinkhammer. Product Manager, Air Warrior, Program Executive Office Soldier explained why this is not the case, “This is because the restructured Air Soldier will still meet all the key requirements listed in the Capability Development Document. Changes as a result of the restructuring are to be captured in the first sub-increment’s Capability Production Document. This document is the “final agreement” between the materiel developer and the requirements community that describes the actual capability to be delivered to the Soldier as compared to the original requirement.”

Air Soldier System Sub-Increment 1a (Fielding begins in FY15)
Basic Description:
Initial sub-increment of Air Soldier capability focusing on weight and torso bulk reduction and improving aviator Situational Awareness
Core Features / Components:
Retains the current Air Warrior gear carriage and clothing system
Optimises survival equipment by eliminating unnecessary items, integrating, and standardizing Soldier-carried survival and signalling equipment
Reduction in bulk and weight of the current Air Warrior body armour system
Common Helmet Mounted Display (CHMD) for all rotary wing aircraft (except Apache - they are equipped in the next sub-increment) with Head Tracking using the Army’s current HGU-56/P flight helmet
Lightweight Environmental Control System (LWECS) to provide a cooling capability for OH-58D Kiowa Warrior aviators
Integrated Soldier Power and Data System (ISPDS) to power a Soldier-mounted Personal Display Module (PDM) and Soldier Computer Module (SCM)
Mission Display Module (aircraft-mounted) that will replace the Air Warrior Electronic Data Manager (EDM) for the Army’s non-digitised Utility helicopters
An Integrated Layered Clothing Ensemble that will integrate a lightweight cooling vest, provide active heating, and a multi-purpose chemical and immersion protective garment

The Milestone B RFP for Air Soldier under the previous strategy was endorsed prior to the change in strategy, Col. Klinkhammer said, “The Milestone B briefing to the Program Executive Officer Soldier, (then) Brigadier General Camille Nichols, did occur on 24th October 2011. At that briefing, the PEO directed the PM Air Warrior to work with the requirements community to relook at the programme, based upon looming funding cuts. Agreement was quickly reached with the requirements community, and in December 2011 the PEO Soldier concurred with the proposed restructured approach and granted full authority to the PM Air Warrior to execute the programme.” The Release of the first Air Soldier Request for Proposals (RFP) to industry occurred in March 2012. The programme is in the Engineering and Manufacturing Development Phase. Contracts are being let and integration of the required technologies is underway and continues through Fiscal Year (FY) 2018. In FY 2014, the PM will begin procurement of the products necessary to deliver the first sub-increment of capability. In FY 2017, the PM will begin procurement of the fully integrated Air Soldier 1b solution. In the meantime Air Soldier capabilities will be assessed as a part of NIE events as the technology is integrated at the system level.

Air Soldier System Sub-Increment 1b (Fielding begins in FY 18)
Basic Description:
Second and final sub-increment of Air Soldier focuses on the full integration of Air Soldier capabilities that will meet or exceed the threshold requirement of a 25 percent reduction in weight (approximately 11 Kg) and bulk
Core Features/ Components:
Full replacement of legacy Air Warrior equipment
Integrated Protective Ensemble (IPE) gear carriage and body armour system with integrated flotation
Lightweight composite emergency breathing device and oxygen bottle
Enhanced Laser Eye Protection provides protection from current and emerging threat wavelengths
A Radio Interface Control Module that integrates wireless aircraft intercom and survival radio capabilities into a single form factor
A Wide Field of View digital HMD for AH-64 Apache aviators using a variant of the Army’s current HGU-56/P flight helmet
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