Building tomorrow’s fighting force
US Army looks toward new tech to modernize and meet the future
Our nation's competitors are pouring time and resources into research, development, science and technology as they build up military capabilities.
The U.S. Army has a response: Modernize. Pursue new technologies and strategies to maintain the edge held by our forces. That was the impetus behind the newly formed Army Futures Command, created to lead efforts to modernize equipment, tactics and organizations.
"It's almost time...for our next moonshot, as the defense industry with our defense partners, to find out what we can do to establish that next significant -- not only tactical, but operational in many ways -- strategic advantage against near-peer competitors identified in the National Defense Strategy," said Gen. John M. Murray, Army Futures Command commanding general, at the Space and Missile Defense Symposium in August.
The Army is looking into a number of new technologies in areas such as vehicles, weapons and sensors that protect soldiers. Raytheon is among those helping to update and field advanced technologies. The company offers the Lynx Infantry Fighting Vehicle, laser-guided systems like the Excalibur® S projectile and Guided Carl-Gustaf Munition, the DeepStrike® missile, Howler counter-unmanned aircraft system, modern software for the battlefield and the Raven Claw mobile electronic warfare tool.
Revolutionizing the fighting vehicle
Raytheon and Rheinmetall Defense partnered to offer the Lynx vehicle for the U.S. Army's Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle competition.
"Our troops deserve the safest and most advanced combat vehicle possible, and that's exactly what we will deliver," said Brad Barnard, Raytheon OMFV director.
The OMFV is scheduled for fielding in 2026 and is expected to replace Bradley fighting vehicles. Lynx vehicles are planned to be built in the U.S.
Boosting precision with lasers
Raytheon is adding a semi-active laser to its cannon-launched Excalibur precision-guided projectile. The new Excalibur S variant will be able to change course mid-flight to engage moving targets on land or at sea.
“Artillery was once used to engage a fixed target or disrupt the advancement of enemy forces,” said Shawn Ball, a Raytheon business development executive. “This new variant engages a moving target and pushes previous tactics into the history books.”
Raytheon and Swedish aerospace and defense firm Saab are moving closer to production on a new, semi-active, laser-guided system, the shoulder-launched Guided Carl-Gustaf Munition. The companies are completing flight tests on the new system, which will allow troops to engage mobile targets up to 2,000 meters way from inside structures.
Extending the reach
The DeepStrike missile developed for the Army’s Precision Strike Missile competition, doubles the impact of existing systems by firing two missiles from a single weapons pod. Raytheon is wrapping up a series of tests and integration activities and plans to flight test the new missile later this year.
An upgraded, faster version of the Coyote Block II UAS will soon be available worldwide. The Block II variant is being approved for international sales and is compatible with Raytheon’s Ku-band Radio Frequency System, or KuRFS, radar as a counter-drone capability. KuRFS acquires and tracks all sizes of drones, while Coyote works with KuRFS to down attacking drones.
The Army recently deployed the Howler counter-UAS, a combination of the KuRFS radar and Coyote Block I.
Raytheon’s Air Soldier team, working with Pivotal Software, is now using the development techniques of the app world to code military software rapidly and reliably. The companies are replacing the bulky, kneeboard computer systems used to fly Army Black Hawk helicopters with commercial tablets and phones.
The new technology helps aircrews to fly in poor visibility conditions, view digital, moving maps, track friendly forces, detect obstacles and send and receive beyond-line-of-sight messages. The Army’s Air Soldier System is the service’s effort to equip their rotary-wing aircrews with wearable electronics.
“We’re helping aircrews and ground forces better communicate and collaborate in real time,” said Matt Gilligan, vice president at Raytheon’s Intelligence, Information and Services business. “Right now, Black Hawk crews and dismounted soldiers rely heavily on voice communications during a mission, and when dynamics are changing in the air and on the ground minute by minute, that’s a huge challenge.”
Raytheon's Raven Claw is also keeping troops connected by offering electronic warfare from a ruggedized, military laptop. The mobile version of the Army's Electronic Warfare Planning and Management Tool helps operators control signals in the field even without a host server or reliable connection to extended data.
“The fight we're looking at … will be a very, very different fight in the future," Gen. Murray said.