SoldierMod.Com :: Soldier Modernisation
  SoldierMod Volume 9 - 2012
Volume 9 Articles

Country flagComFut:
New Maturation Plan

A co-funded Maturation stage will deliver an operational prototype ready for pre-serial production in late 2013 according to Angel Perez Martin-Nieto part of Spain’s ComFut Programme Office

PDF icon Download article as PDF
ComFut soldiers from the Legion Brigade in ambush training at the “Alvarez de Sotomayor” Combat Training Field in Viator, Almeria February 2012. Photo: © Spanish MoD
ComFut soldiers from the Legion Brigade in ambush training at the “Alvarez de Sotomayor” Combat Training Field in Viator, Almeria February 2012. Photo: © Spanish MoD

Q: Where is ComFut today?
A: In spite of the financial crisis, ComFut is still alive. We could say that ComFut is at the end of the Design and Development Phase which was extended last year to mitigate certain risks associated to ergonomics and reliability of some components.

Q: Did the Design & Development Phase end in 2009 or is it still continuing? Is there any news on when the Production phase might begin?
A: Since its creation, the Programme has had two different phases, the Study and Definition Phase which ended in 2004, and later on the Design and Development (D&D) Phase, from 2006 until the end of 2010, such as they were contracted. A total of 36 individual and four vehicle prototypes were built of what we know as ComFut V.1. An extension of the D&D Phase, or in other words a Maturation Phase, was deemed necessary to overcome system drawbacks before starting pre-serial production. No official plans exist nowadays for the Production Phase which will depend on the maturity status at the end of this new phase and Army requirements.

Q: Is there a new strategy?
A: Something really new for ComFut is the agreement between the Spanish MoD and Industry for co-funding the Maturation Phase. This phase has been planned in two stages, the first one, started last November, is focused on electronics and aimed at reducing weight, bulk and electrical consumption by means of integration of electronics, control devices and cables. The result will be 18 individual prototypes, namely ComFut V.2, at the end of this year. The second one, still pending approval, will be focused on lethality and survivability in order to obtain a rationalised modularisation of weapon devices and distribution of functionalities at Squad level, as well as to improve overall system ergonomics and the load carrying system. This final product will be ComFut V.3, expected by end of 2013, which can be considered an operational prototype ready for pre-serial production.

Q: Is there still a ComFut industry team?
A: For ComFut V.1’s development, EADS Defence & Security Solutions España (now Cassidian Solutions) was the prime contractor with Indra, Amopack, Fedur, Iturri y GMV as subcontractors. For this new phase Cassidian Solutions in Spain has been awarded the contract for the evolution from ComFut V.1 to V.2. This company, taking into account the companies that participated in the previous phase, will select the subcontractors that are in the best condition to face V.2 development according to needs and timeframe.

Q: There was a trial scheduled for July 2011. Can you tell me what this trial set out to do?
A: After a short delay, operational trials on the V.1 prototypes started at the end of September 2011. One platoon of the Legion Brigade-Light Infantry Brigade-posted in Almería was appointed as the trial unit for ComFut development. We wanted feedback directly from the user about the functionalities implemented in the system. After more than a month of basic training, real trials started in early November. The format is simple, use the system in your daily drills and tell us how often you use this or that functionality, in which scenario and under which conditions. Tell us also which member(s) of the Squad, according to his/her role benefits from the different functionalities and which of them serve no use. Test different technologies for some devices, for instance HMD, headset, protection goggles, night vision, electronic zoom versus optical zoom, etc., and tell us which of them would you prefer and in which situations.

We are not talking of specific trials, but operational trials oriented to extract conclusions about employment, using the system in the daily training. We are aware that these kinds of trials take a long time and as the longer the system is used the better for the developer. In fact trials still continue and will do so in the future so as not to lose close contact between users and builders.

Q: Have there been any other trials since then and are there others planned?
A: Specific trials have also been conducted by users under controlled conditions aimed at testing new items such as ventilation vests for heat evacuation. Being aware of the hard climate conditions where military forces have to operate abroad nowadays with ballistic protection on and overloaded with combat equipment, sweat ventilation it is of paramount importance for the combatant in order to reduce the risk of heat stress and heat stroke. Trials have been carried out twice in December 2010 and May 2011 with satisfactory results and will be conducted again in extreme hot conditions this Summer.

Q: The ComFut programme is a national programme. Have you considered working with other national programmes or common modules?
A: We keep very good relationships with other programme offices within NATO but mainly for information exchange. Being a member of the EDA Cat.B CEDS Programme means there is the opportunity for multinational co-operation for the development of a common system or common modules of a system. There is still a lot of work to do in this direction but the foundations have been established.

Q: When we last spoke you mentioned that you were planning changes to the G36 to adapt it to ComFUT’s needs. Has this work gone ahead?
A: During the development of ComFut V.1 the laser range finder integrated in the weapon optronics was removed and its functionality was given to LRF binoculars, one per Squad.
As part of the current contract for development of ComFut V.2, a specific study about the fire efficiency subsystem has to be delivered. The study will deal with changes in the weapon and changes in the current optronics with the view of implementing its recommendations during the development of ComFut V.3. Ergonomics related to the weapon obviously demanded modifications at least in the handguard, for the optimum location of controls and as support for ancillary devices, and the buttstock for better adjustment of the weapon to the shooter’s arm.

Q: In the pause in ComFut, has acquisition elsewhere in the Spanish defence budget meant you will to adapt ComFut to include this new equipment – new ballistic protection – new load carriage for example?
A: Materials are evolving day by day and a lot of progress has been achieved since we started the D&D Phase. Defence acquisition bodies can make use of the advances in ComFut and implement them when equipping regular soldiers. The contrary doesn’t apply. ComFut has its own features and its equipment had to be developed to satisfy its specific requirements. Trying to accommodate current equipment to ComFut’s needs would mean to some extent lack of efficiency, above all when it takes of load carrying system, electronics and optronics.

Q: There have significant changes in soldier modernisation over recent years – from Land Warrior to Ground Soldier Ensemble to Nett Warrior to the new slimmed down Nett Warrior for example. That’s one country I know but has your strategy and approach to soldier modernisation changed at all in the past four years and why?
A: Obviously we learn from each other and above all from our own experiences. From the beginning of our Programme we adopted a top-down approach for ComFut’s development. Every soldier in the Squad had to carry the same equipment and had to have all functionalities. Later on during trials we realised that some of these functionalities are used only by leaders and some others only by regular soldiers. This has a direct reflection in the equipment to carry individually and in the system architecture. Bearing in mind that the goal is to keep all ComFut’s combat capabilities at the Squad level, we are making a big effort to develop a system as simple and as light as possible and with functionalities distributed throughout the Squad members. Hence the importance of current operational trials and direct contact with users during development.

Upcoming Events
Valid XHTML 1.0 Strict
Other publications by Intercomms: