Vendor readying FBCB2 dismounted system

Northrop Grumman Corp. wants U.S. and coalition forces on foot to have the same digital communication abilities that they have inside their vehicles.

"The Army needs better dismounted communications. We see continued growth here," said Don Winter, a corporate vice president and president at Northrop Grumman's Mission Systems, during a media breakfast briefing today.

Northrop's business sector in Reston, Va., has developed a Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2) system that soldiers carry into the field, Winter said. It includes a 10-inch color touch screen terminal mounted on vehicle dashboards that depicts the locations of friendly forces on the battlefield as blue icons and enemy troops as red ones.

Despite the drastic drop of ground friendly-fire incidents from 35 during the Gulf War in 1991 to two in Iraq this year — most likely because of FBCB2, Army officials have said — soldiers struggled to communicate once they left their vehicles, said a May 15 Army report.

"Mechanized leaders told us they needed a way for squads to communicate back to the platforms and with each other once they dismounted," declared an Operation Iraqi Freedom Program Executive Officer Soldier Lessons Learned report.

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