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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » August 29, 2012
Bumar Żołnierz
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Advantage Through Technology on the Modern Battlefield
August 29, 2012   
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“If you want peace, prepare for war”—this ancient maxim is still relevant today. Even though we hope wars will bypass us, for this to happen we have to be prepared for them.

Poland is a relatively safe country; its security is built using political methods and guaranteed by alliances. This means that Poland also has obligations toward its allies, and consequently even armed conflicts brewing far away can require the involvement of the Polish armed forces.

In any armed conflict, soldiers’ equipment and their training are the factors that determine effectiveness and security. Countries can gain an advantage on the modern battlefield if they have a technological advantage. The battle to secure such an advantage is under way at universities, research institutes and sophisticated production plants working for the needs of the country’s defense system. Advanced technologies are the weapons of the future.

Many of us wonder what the battlefield of the future might look like. Technological developments suggest we are getting closer to the literary visions of a “war of robots.” The development of unmanned aircraft and vehicles that manufacturers increasingly equip with grenade launchers, guns and so on means these are becoming terrifying weapons. However, regardless of what arms are used, wars will be conducted by people, and the results of combat will depend on their equipment, training and motivation. Victory will always be marked by the presence of soldiers, who need to be given the capacity to be as effective as possible with a minimum of effort and danger.

For many years, work has continued around the world on combat systems that—thanks to the latest advances in technology—will give soldiers superhuman powers of perception, speed and effectiveness as well as indestructibility. These programs are jointly referred to as Future Soldier Systems. They focus mainly on the modernization of land forces, especially what is traditionally known as infantry, their operation being increasingly closely linked to notions such as network centricity (simply put, this means the cooperation of all types of armed forces through the exchange of information) and cyberspace (which includes operations in a virtual information space based on obtaining, processing, distorting and disrupting information).

The most spectacular progress is being made in observation, communication and command systems, enabling soldiers to see in complete darkness, discover and identify the enemy from a great distance, transmit images and direct soldiers in theater from a considerable distance. Advanced arms systems are the result of the work of scientists and specialists from many fields.

The result is advanced arms, rifle, handgun, grenade launcher systems complete with ammunition enabling accurate firing at the enemy even if they are screened from view. Ergonomic ballistic protection systems are being developed; these protect soldiers from missiles and shrapnel while maintaining their ability to reposition themselves quickly. Advanced thermoactive clothing with biostatic coatings keeps soldiers comfortable and healthy by maintaining the skin’s bacteria at the proper level. Clothing is beginning to play the extra role of an observer of the soldier’s mental and physical condition and of an automatic paramedic providing first aid. Camouflage systems making it hard to find soldiers are being developed as well.

One such system is being developed in Poland, under the Tytan program. An interdisciplinary consortium has been working on the system since 2009, composed of companies from the Bumar Group, the Military University of Technology, the Military Institutes of Hygiene and Epidemiology and of Aviation Medicine as well the WB Electronics and Radmor companies. This unique consortium is brought together by Bumar’s huge potential as Poland’s biggest state-owned supplier of arms, aided by the energy of private companies and the knowledge and scientific research potential of military institutes and universities. Bumar Żołnierz heads the consortium that the Defense Ministry’s Armament Policy Department commissioned to draw up the guidelines for designing the system in 2010. Though this work has been completed, the consortium’s members continue to work together and are developing the system’s concept and components, recognizing that the program stimulates technological development and integrates Poland’s scientific and industrial potential.

The Tytan program is an interdisciplinary project that encompasses all areas and stages of a soldier’s life, including recruitment, training, and combat. The program is developing or will develop medical packages, food packages, training systems, clothing and protection, weapons and ammunition, soldier-system interfaces, and battlefield robots. This is a huge project that could have a stimulating effect on the development of Polish science and technology.

One could say a “Polish school” has emerged in the construction of a soldier-centric system. The system’s most important component is the soldier, with his capacity, skills, habits and limitations. The system’s ergonomics, flexibility and modular structure are qualities that are expected to strengthen the combat capacity of soldiers. This will help avoid burdening soldiers excessively with superfluous gadgets straight from sci-fi movies. The idea is to construct an equipment system from a specially prepared set of compatible parts and components. A great many of the devices will be built from the same basic modules. This minimizes equipment manufacturing and operation costs.

Armament systems are tailor-made—literally and figuratively. Each of the system’s users is scanned in a special chamber so that clothing can be made to fit perfectly and protection systems can be chosen optimally. The equipment is adjusted for right- and left-handed use and can be configured (equipment selected and placed) to suit the individual soldier’s preferences.

The training and practice systems are integrated with the main combat equipment to ensure that proper habits and behaviors are developed when using the same combat equipment. Virtual battlefields, battlefield simulators with virtual space generators, war games—these are the training systems of the future to which the consortium’s system for individual soldier equipment and combat is being adapted.

The development of future soldier systems can bring benefits not only to manufacturers. Developing the future soldier system program serves the development of new technologies; new devices are being invented that can find application in other uniformed formations, in rescue services and even in everyday life. The advanced observation and reconnaissance systems being developed by Bumar Żołnierz can also be used by the police force, firefighters, and mining rescue services. The innovative nature of these solutions is the result of commitment to research and development work conducted at home and abroad. Other developments that will emerge as part of the project include new power sources and methods, secure data transfer systems, information and image protection methods, robots, individual vehicles and carrier systems that will find application in many areas of everyday life.
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