DOD to replace training system

A history of MILES

The Defense Department is looking to replace its combat simulation hardware, which has been in use since the late 1970s.

The Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System (MILES) enables military personnel to train in realistic battlefield scenarios. In such simulations, soldiers can be "wounded" or "killed" when sensors they wear register a "hit" from a MILES-equipped weapon.

MILES has undergone significant upgrades, but it still lacks the technology sufficient to adequately re-create a true battlefield scenario. To that end, DOD is looking to replace the system with one still under consideration.

The Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation in Orlando, Fla. awarded a pair of $2 million, 13-month contracts to competing teams, one from Science Applications International Corp. and the other from AT&T Government Solutions.

The contract calls for "concept and technology development" to help define the emerging technologies and communications systems to be used for future combat simulation and live training.

"The goal for the contract is to replace the existing MILES with a system that will support the Future Combat Systems, the Objective Force Warrior, and other new weapons and technology advances," said Ed Babiuch, AT&T Government Solutions' project manager.

Babiuch explained that the MILES system has some flaws, such as requiring a direct line of sight between the laser and the sensor. Smoke can obscure the system, rendering it ineffective, he said. Dense foliage can also prevent the system from working correctly, making training in a wooded or jungle environment difficult.

"The MILES system does not allow the military to train using the full complement of the seven battlefield operating systems," said John Naff, vice president of corporate development for SAIC's wireless systems group. The seven battlefield operating systems are intelligence, maneuver, fire support, mobility and survivability, air defense support, combat service support, and command and control.

Another major drawback to the MILES system is that it doesn't integrate well with other systems, Naff said. The constraints mean that MILES generally is used only at large training centers that have a large networked system that allows for data collection and analysis following a simulation.

The version the military presently uses is the MILES 2000 — the third generation of the system over the past 25 years. The next generation, MILES XXI, is being developed by Lockheed Martin Corp. and most likely will serve as the linchpin that connects MILES with the system under consideration.

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