The battlefield is changing from large open ground to smaller confined urban areas. It brings the need for a revolutionary dismounted soldier system (DSS), which can confront new threats and give the protection soldiers need to carry out the mission.

Listed below are the major milestones in the journey of soldier modernization, as identified by GlobalData.

1915 – The United Kingdom was the first to develop and introduce a tracer round, a version of the .303 cartridge.

1939 – The first military night-vision devices were introduced by the Germany Army as early as 1939 and were used in World War II.

1942 – Motorola produced the SCR-300 radio. Initially it was developed as a handheld radio, but it became a backpack-carried one. However, it was the first to be called a “walkie-talkie”, a term that remains in use.

1949 – The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was signed.

1954 – The 7.62 × 51mm NATO rifle cartridge was selected as the first standard NATO rifle cartridge.

1960 – General Electric developed the first exoskeleton device in the 1960s called the Hardiman.

1965 – The M-1965 field jacket was made with water-repellent fabrics.

1965 – Kevlar was invented by Stephanie Kwolek.

1968 – The first head-mounted augmented reality display was created by Ivan Sutherland at the University of Utah . It was connected to a computer and due to its weight it had to be suspended from the ceiling. Due to its appearance it was named “The Sword of Damocles”.

1975 – Mid-Infrared Advanced Chemical Laser (MIRACL) started being developed by DARPA and the US Navy as the first energy directed weapon that destroys ballistic and cruise missiles, and towards the end of its life, satellites in orbit. It became operational in1980. Although it did manage to destroy short-range rockets, it was ended in 2006 and provided important knowledge for future programmes.

1976 – The first Gore-Tex jacket was manufactured by a Seattle company called Early Winters.

1983 – Miniaturized Global Positioning System (GPS) was developed by DARPA for use by the United States military.

1988 – Development of the first endurance unmanned aerial vehicle which flew for more than 38 straight hours and reached an altitude of 25,000 feet.

1995 – DARPA developed the wearable SOLDIER 911 personal radio, for an urgent operational requirement, to alert peacekeepers in North Macedonia when they were approaching the Serbian border. It provided geolocation to their commanders and an emergency button. It was later used at the borders between South and North Korea.

2002 – The first time robots were used in ground combat was during the war in Afghanistan.

2004 – Boston Dynamics ’ developed BigDog robot was used outside the laboratory with success, carrying equipment and navigating using its own sensors. It was the first legged robot.

2010 – First combat deployment of the FELIN soldier system in Afghanistan.

2013 – Developed the Blast Gauge, a small device worn by warfighters to measure blast exposure and cue medics for initial response.

2017 – European Defence Agency initiated a collaborative effort to establish standards in the design and development of soldier systems.

This is an edited extract from the Soldier Modernization – Thematic Research report produced by GlobalData Thematic Research.