Army begins work on new combat training simulation system

The Army has awarded contracts to AT&T Government Solutions of Vienna, Va., and Science Applications International Corp. for the first phase of a program to develop a new combat simulation training system.

The two 13-month, $2 million contracts have the companies competing to come up with a concept and supporting technology to allow combat troops to train in a simulated environment with modern information-centric weapons.

The One Tactical Engagement Simulation System will replace the 30-year-old Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System now used by Army troops for combat training.

'OneTESS is not a MILES improvement program,' said project director Mike Bergman. MILES is basically advanced laser-tag, he said. 'It's all line of sight' and does not support many modern smart weapons systems that are guided by real-time information in the field.

In the initial concept and technology development phase of 13 months the companies will design architectures and modeling and simulation plans. 'We've got them producing no hardware during this phase but a number of paper products,' Bergman said.

At the end of the first phase one company will be selected as the lead technology integrator and proceed to an 18-month program to do R&D and develop a prototype system for testing. It will not be until then that the Army will share the results of its own initial OneTESS R&D, Bergman said.

'While the government has a concept in mind of how we can do it, I am encouraging SAIC and AT&T to come up with alternative ideas,' he said.

The third phase will be a 48-month system development and demonstration program, with a production-ready system.

Eventually the Army would like to see OneTESS technology embedded in weapons systems to allow units to train in the field and at home bases, rather than just at combat training centers now set up to use MILES.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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