Under the various phases of the ADF’s long-running Project LAND 125, Australian soldiers have been re-equipping with improved body armour, webbing, and much more, but the latest phase of the program aims to go much further.
Diggers of the future could be as fully digitally integrated into the modern fighting force. In addition to new ballistic protection and load carrying equipment, this could include new technology to integrate soldiers with emerging robotic vehicles, unmanned aerial systems (UAS), positioning systems, and remote automated sensors that could be set up around a patrol’s position.
It could also include a device to provide language translation for soldiers during peacekeeping or counter-insurgency operations. Data could be shared with other soldiers, although a key requirement is for the new equipment to have a minimal RF and IR signature.
Project LAND 125 was launched in the 1990s, and this latest Phase 4 Integrated Soldier System (ISS) program seeks to assess next generation solder technology and acquire the best of breed, along with training, simulation, and support capabilities. Phase 4 will deliver 14 different capability elements in three tranches out to 2032, at a cost of up to $1.5 billion.
A fundamental objective is to reduce overall physical and cognitive load on the individual soldier, not add to it for soldiers at platoon or smaller unit levels.
Declaring its intent to respond to the requirement is ‘Team SABRE’ (Soldier Augmentations and Battlefield Robotic Enablers), comprising Safran Electronics and Defense Australasia as prime, with sub-contractors BAE Systems Australia, and Nova Systems.
“Safran has decades of experience in delivering soldier modernisation projects of similar complexity around the world, including the French Army’s FELIN and CENTURION programs,” Safran Pacific CEO, Alexis de Pelleport said a February 3 release. “The SABRE solution will provide the Australian dismounted solider with a capability and decision-making edge over any adversary now and into the future.”
The solution will be based on that used in part by the French Army which is regarded as one of the most advanced services at rolling out this advanced technology to its soldiers, a product of two decades of research and development.
Other companies including Babcock, Elbit, and Rheinmetall have responded to the Defence ITR which is expected to be shortlisted for a limited tender.