The German infantry is finally to benefit from efforts to produce a futuristic infantry system-of-systems robust enough for real-world deployments. The Düsseldorf-based Rheinmetall Group says the German Bundeswehr has placed an order with it for 900 sets of its Gladius (Latin: sword) system. This could equip up to 90 infantry sections, if platoon headquarters are excluded.
Under the initial order signed with the Federal Agency for Defence Technology and Procurement (BWB) units due to deploy to Afghanistan next year and 2014 will be the first to be equipped with Gladius.
“Back in 2009 Rheinmetall was awarded a contract to develop a pre-series demonstrator version of the Gladius system for the Bundeswehr. It supplemented the basic Future Soldier (IdZ) system which Germany ordered in 2005 as an interim response to an urgent operational requirement, the company says in a statement.
Now ready for fielding, Gladius is intended to expand and improve the capabilities of the existing system, particularly with regard to networking, command and control, and combat effectiveness. Responding to heightened requirements on the part of the Bundeswehr and building on the results of extensive trials and operational experience, Gladius is a far-reaching, highly advanced new development.
A prominent feature of the Gladius is a holistic design approach that takes full account of the complex operational requirements levied on modern soldier systems. Gladius is intended first and foremost to bring the 10-man infantry section and its vehicle into the network-enabled operational loop. This network, consisting of reconnaissance, command and control components, and weapons, enables rapid exchange of information as well as shared situational awareness as the basis for planning and conducting operations.
The individual soldier receives all relevant data concerning the tactical situation, the position of friendly forces, the mission, and system status. It includes a GPS and an inertial navigation system as well as a magnetic compass, facilitating reliable orientation on the ground.
Ergonomic features include weight reduction, miniaturisation and improved integration of individual components. The modular battle dress uniform, body armour and harness system provide excellent protection from detection in the visual and infrared spectrum as well as from the weather – even in extreme climate zones – and especially from biological and chemical agents. Flame-retardant equipment and vector protection round out the system’s high level of protection. The system is integrated into an “electronic backbone” that contains the radio, core computer, batteries and GPS module.
Gladius Noster Est = The sword is ours, approx.