On the Floor: Army looks to its own ‘smartphone’ 

10/11/2011 5:00 PM 

The Army has radically scaled down its wearable, command-and-control ensemble using a device that most civilians can’t live without -- the smartphone.

The move is one of the most dramatic shifts in the two-decade history of the program formerly known as Land Warrior, a smart-soldier system designed to help soldiers see through the fog of war.

The new version of Nett Warrior, which should weigh no more than five pounds, features “the same capabilities that the Nett Warrior Configuration 1 had and the same capabilities that we leveraged from Land Warrior -- where am I, where are my buddies, how do I get to where I am going in the fastest, safest route possible,” said Joe Dames, systems integrator for Project Manager Ground Soldier.

Nett Warrior program officials displayed this latest version of the system at the 2011 Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C. They have replaced the 11-pound system made up of a computer processor, radio, helmet-mounted display and batteries with a tactical smartphone concept that hooks up to a lightweight, secure radio.

Nett Warrior grew out of the success that the Land Warrior program enjoyed on its first combat deployment to Iraq in 2007-2008 with soldiers of the 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment.

Despite efforts to streamline the system, a continuous stream of soldier complaints over the weight of the components prompted senior Army leaders to approve the new direction for the Nett Warrior program in August.

The Army hasn’t decided which company will make the smartphone for Nett Warrior, but prototypes are undergoing tests at Fort Bliss, Texas. If all goes well the Army hopes to field the slimmed-down system in late 2012, Dames said.