US Army soldiers with Company A, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armoured Brigade Combat Team, and 1st Cavalry Division, have evaluated a new capability that enhances the situational awareness for crew members of the M2A3 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle.
Designed by the Army Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC), the capability will be installed into existing armoured vehicles to provide troopers inside a 360° picture of their surroundings.
Currently, soldiers riding in the back of an M2A3 Bradley are exposed immediately to threats as soon as they dismount.
TARDEC special project officer major Stephen Tegge said: "When the ramp drops on the Bradley, there is a moment of disorientation.
"You need to be able to tell where you are; similar to being blindfolded, spun in circles, taking the blindfold off, and orienting yourself.
"What we are trying to do is to reduce that (disorientation) by getting more information into the back of the vehicle."
TARDEC aims to split squads into two smaller, lightweight, more agile vehicles, while also increasing the amount of intelligence soldiers have in the back of their vehicle, and then compare it to their efficiency in current procedures.
During trials, the TARDEC team installed two cameras outside of the Bradleys and installed tablets in the areas where infantrymen would sit. The tablets simultaneously displayed up to four different video feeds and a map of the area.
Additionally, the two vehicles were able to tap into each other's camera feeds, enabling them to see around both vehicles.
The squad leaders, using the touchscreen capability and the telestrator function on the tablets, can draw out a plan with a stylus, identify buildings, and show troops their sectors of fire before they lower the ramp and exit.
Staff sergeant Michael Sabo 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment mounted section leader said: "With these cameras and tablets, it is going to cut back on your decision-making time and enhance the soldiers' safety a lot. It will save some lives."
The TARDEC is also partnering with the army's Training and Doctrine Command to check if the prototype engineers and soldiers have developed a system that could benefit the army as a whole.
Image: A US soldier demonstrates the capability of a tablet mounted in the back of an M2A3 Bradley fighting vehicle. Photo: courtesy of US Army.