FRES - Electronic Architecture Technology Demonstrator Programme
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The Future Rapid Effect System (FRES) is the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) programme to provide the British Army with a family of medium-weight, network-enabled, air-deployable armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) to meet up to 16 battlespace roles. FRES was designed to be the central pillar of a capable and highly deployable medium force which will be able to project power rapidly world-wide, complementing our existing heavy and light forces.
As a member of the Lockheed Martin-led Team ISIS, SCISYS played a key role in the Electronic Architecture Technology Demonstrator Programme (EA TDP). On today’s battlefield a vehicle’s electronic architecture – from provision of situational awareness to information management capabilities – is as important as the armour, manoeuvrability or horsepower.
SCISYS’ role on this 18 month programme was to run and staff the software team, contribute to the systems engineering team, aid in the design and implementation of the mobile demonstrator software architecture, and support the trials activities held at the UK vehicle test centre at Millbrook.
The EA TDP was split into three parts:
- Technology Maturity Studies – to identify technologies which would be available for use in FRES
- Technology Risk Management and Assessment – SCISYS undertook all risk activities on behalf of Lockheed Martin
- Mobile Demonstrator Development – SCISYS formed part of the core architecture team, with responsibility for software related aspects
The Mobile Demonstrator System was designed and implemented by Team ISIS, using General Dynamics’ AHED (Advanced Hybrid Electric Drive) vehicle as the platform. SCISYS was responsible for the integration of the EA demonstrator software onto the vehicle. This included connectivity to existing MoD systems such as:
- BOWMAN communications system
- CBM(L) (Command Battlespace Management [Land]) applications used to transfer sensor, target and intelligence data
- NBC BISA (Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Battlefield Information System Application)
With the quantity of information available to the warfighter constantly increasing, it is important that he or she is not overloaded. For this reason, SCISYS implemented aids to improve data fusion and visualisation of available information. For example tactical data extracted from ComBAT (Common Battlefield Application Toolset) was overlaid onto external camera and thermal views using vehicle orientation and position data obtained from an on-board Inertial Navigation Unit (INU). Mechanisms for data synchronisation both between displays inside the vehicle and also between vehicles were also developed. Driver visualisation of routes was provided by exporting ComBAT-derived routes and displaying them as an overlay on camera views on the driver workstation, thereby providing direction and distance information much as a Head Up Display (HUD) does in a fighter cockpit.
Recognising the importance of an easy-to-use Human-Computer Interface (HCI), its development was a major part of the work, and demonstrated several innovative features:
- Intelligence data acquisition and dissemination, providing a clip and share concept for acquiring sensor data and disseminating it around the battlefield
- Symbology to represent emerging Network Enabled Capability (NEC) concepts
- Pluggable component based interfaces which enable components to be rapidly developed and inserted into the configuration with minimal effort
- Decoupling of the infrastructure services from the HCI presentation services to enable rapid integration with external systems and availability of situational awareness data across the platform
A number of such components were developed to demonstrate vehicle equipment control, fault display and its associated decision support system, target identification, sensor management, information querying, and information management. A synthetic environment was implemented which allowed blue and red force movement, target data and route insertion.
The demonstrator showed how integration of all information present in the vehicle could improve the battlefield tempo and how to make best use of NEC for automatically routing information around the battlefield.
SCISYS is now utilising this knowledge for other MOD programmes such as VTID, a vehicle survivability study for the Research Acquisition Organisation and Director Equipment Capability (Ground Manoeuvre), and the Warrior turret replacement project.