The Army is looking to build a new technology architecture that will allow soldiers to function as “integrated weapons platform,” with plans to start soliciting industry applications solutions in January and deliver an initial baseline version of the system in early 2021.
Officials detailed the Adaptive Squad Architecture (ASA) program at an industry day on Tuesday outlining plans to cut cables, reduce size and weight and streamline power sources across individual soldier components, while also establishing a new Soldier Integration Facility to house the development effort.
“We just continue to hang products on our soldiers until the soldier gets so heavy they just can’t move,” Brig. Gen. Anthony Potts, leader of PEO-Soldier, told attendees at the industry day. “Let us free up your resources so that you can provide us capability built on the infrastructure and architecture that we provide to you.”
Potts said ASA is focused on optimizing soldiers the same way the Army works on platforms such as aircrafts or tanks, noting that the average soldier carries about 85 individual components compromising a kit of around 122 pounds.
The ASA effort does not have a prime contractor, rather the Army will release problem statements for industry to offer applications and tools that will work on top of the new architecture.
Potts told reporters during the industry day that the Army will continue iterating ASA through the rest of the year and hold further industry days ahead of releasing the first problem sets in January.
“We are trying to make sure that there’s sufficient information in that architecture so that companies who are trying to answer the problems sets have the data that they need,” Potts said.
ASA would look to add industry solutions that allow multiple tools to be combined, cutting down and weight and size, or integrate applications through an “app store-like” program that allows for new data sharing capabilities. Potts added that the Army also wants to supply its own singular power source, rather than having each industry bring its own individual battery adding weight.
“There’s redundant power sources connected to all kinds of cables. That’s what we have to change,” Potts told attendees. “If you do that, you significantly have my interest. We’re going to have a chat.”
The new SIF is set to open in late September and will be located at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, where soldiers will be brought in to provide feedback on ASA development and industry will have the opportunity to pitch their applications.
Potts noted that the iteration process over the next few months will look to get industry’s input on interface solutions and software requirements for ASA.
The new architecture is also tied into Microsoft’s [MSFT] ongoing development of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System headset, which is intended to give Army soldiers new “mixed-reality” capabilities and provide commanders with vast amounts of training data.
“We knew because of the scope of what we were trying to put together for IVAS that we needed something bigger than just component-level configuration management,” Potts told reporters.