The US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded research contracts to nine organisations, with the aim of developing technologies to enhance real-time situational awareness for dismounted soldiers.

The nine organisations include Helios Remote Sensing Systems, Kitware, Leidos, SRI International, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Six3 Systems, Scientific Systems Company and SoarTech.

The contract was awarded under the Squad X Core Technologies (SXCT) programme, which aims at developing technologies to improve squad awareness, and relieve physical and cognitive burdens to enhance engagement capabilities.

DARPA program manager major Christopher Orlowski said: "Our goal is to develop technologies that support a three-dimensional common operating picture leveraging input from integrated mobile sensors, as well as the ability to organically locate and identify friendly forces and threat locations in near real-time.

"The Phase I performers for SXCT have proposed a variety of technologies."

"The Phase I performers for SXCT have proposed a variety of technologies that, in the future, could provide unprecedented awareness, adaptability and flexibility to dismounted soldiers and marines, and enable squad members to more intuitively understand and control their complex mission environments."

SXCT’s main research area is precision engagement, which involves engaging threats at a distance of 1,000m, without imposing too much additional weight.

The second technical area is non-kinetic engagement, which aims to provide technology for disrupting enemy operations.

The SXCT programme will also focus on squad sensing, or the detection of potential threats at operational pace, as well as squad autonomy to increase squad members’ real-time knowledge of their own and teammates’ locations.

Image: The SXCT programme aims at enhancing squads’ ability to collaborate, understand their surroundings and act effectively. Photo: courtesy of DARPA.