Next-Generation Fires Systems Improve Mission Command, Boost Lethality

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April 10, 2017 | Originally published by Date Line: April 10 on

Soldiers view live-stream full-motion video from unmanned aerial vehicles via a smartphone. They access 3D digital maps to send precision target coordinates. Soldiers are relying on these advanced technologies to improve lethality and maintain battlefield dominance.

These are among the improvements that will be embedded in future fire-support capabilities.
The Army has started testing four upgraded systems for its Field Artillery units to provide more accurate and timely fire support to maneuver formations. Fielding is scheduled to begin in fall 2017.

Nineteen Soldiers from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, are the first group of Soldiers to place the fire mission systems through rigorous testing. Understanding how Army research and engineering eventually transitions into the hands of Soldiers is an essential part of these updated command and control systems for the Field Artillery.  Obtaining Soldiers” feedback early in the development process ensures that engineers and test officers are not learning of usability issues after it is too late for fixes to be implemented.

The Precision Fires-Dismounted system has undergone the most significant changes. The new PF-D has greatly expanded the ability of forward observers to conduct completely digital calls for fire, which provides Field Artillery Soldiers with precise target location coordinates derived from imagery. Commanders then gain more accurate digital fires solutions, which are vital for conducting precision targeting in urban areas where collateral damage is a major concern because of close proximity.

Digital communications also greatly reduces transmission error, with significantly less intervention than when using voice commands.  A combination of hardware and software improvements make up the upgrades to the other three systems.