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

Country flagVOSS:
The Smart Vest

Tripartite plans for the acquisition of a Smart Vest provides the core for soldier modernisation for the Netherlands as lead nation and partners Belgium and Luxembourg

PDF icon Download article as PDF

The Netherland’s VOSS or Improved Operational Soldier System programme began with approval from the Netherlands Parliament in 2008. Luc de Beer, Project Manager VOSS at the Netherlands Ministry of Defence said, “Although VOSS is being called a project in our national portfolio, it’s better to have it considered as a programme due to the fact that some strategic benefits have to be obtained and the fact that it consists of three separate projects: E-Lighter; Smart Vest and Integrated Head Protection (IHP).”

De Beer explained that due to the programme’s size and characteristics, the Dutch Parliament has to be informed about the results of each phase before the commencement of the next phase. After the approval in 2008 – based on the A letter – the project passed the Pre Study Phase and the Study Phase in 2010 respectively in 2011.


During the Programme’s Pre Study Phase (2009 – 2010) the project team conducted a market survey on both the Smart Vest and on the Integrated Head Protection separately, to obtain more detail on the quality of equipment, price and the possibilities on the market. Regarding the E-Lighter, the focus was on the preparation of a new contract in order to begin final development. It was at this point that the possibility of international procurement became more likely. De Beer explained, “In those years, the contacts between the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxemburg became more intense while exploring possibilities of cooperation in the field of soldier systems. One of the results that was met, was a common Programme of Requirements for the Smart Vest in which typical national aspects like camouflage were being addressed and respected. One of the strengths is the way in which all countries found a common approach for example, interfacing towards their national C2 systems like the Battlefield Management System.”

The latter concluded into the signing of an Implementation Arrangement on soldier systems as well as a Supplementary Arrangement (SA) for the Smart Vest. In the SA, the Benelux countries agreed to have the Netherlands as the single contracting nation for the procurement of the Smart Vest. Both documents were signed on April 6th 2011. This resulted in a Request for Proposal which was send to industry in December 2011. The contract is scheduled in the beginning of 2013. Before this, the required quantities will be validated by each nation. In the Netherlands there is still a need for approximately 5500 systems based on actual information and insights. The cooperation aims for efficiencies of scale which could be reached by a common acquisition, and by common activities in other areas. This will be subject to validation in the second half of 2012.

In 2012, the procurement focus is on the Smart Vest. This comprises several elements; a C4I system including, radio, display, GPS and computer; an Energy Supply Subsystem including batteries and connectors and thirdly a Load, Carriage and Protection system including hard and soft ballistics, carriage vest, hydration system and rucksacks.

The Smart Vest is the core of the Dutch VOSS project as it provides improved situational awareness and overall effectiveness as well as improved protection for the individual soldier. After contract signing, the realisation of VOSS will begin with a pre-serial production and evaluation in 2013-2014, followed by serial production and implementation from 2014-2017.

E-Lighter and Integrated Head Protection

The E-Lighter will be part of the VOSS energy portfolio. Developed in partnership with Fokker, the E-lighter is a diesel powered fuel source, carried by individual soldiers. The E-lighter presents the energy supply for longer missions. In September 2011, the Netherlands Ministry of Defence signed a contract with the Netherlands-based Fokker Aerostructures for the final development of the E-Lighter, with an option for serial production. In 2012, a number of prototypes will be tested at both Fokker and military facilities. The product is scheduled to be ready in 2014, in order to have the E-Lighter and the Smart Vest developed and realized parallel for reasons of system integration, risk reduction and improved user’s acceptance.

Progress on the IHP has not been as successful. De Beer explained that based on the results of the market survey for the IHP initiative, in 2010, the Netherlands Ministry of Defence decided to postpone the acquisition of the IHP as the market couldn’t give a defined specification price nor delivery schedule of such a system in the next future.

Upcoming Events
Valid XHTML 1.0 Strict
Other publications by Intercomms: