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MILITARY TECHNOLOGY (MILTECH) is the world's leading international tri-service defence monthly magazine in the English language. MILITARY TECHNOLOGY is "Required Reading for Defence Professionals". Follow us on Twitter: MILTECH1

26 June 2015

Austrian Ministry of Defence (MoD) Outlines Future Protection Plans

The Austrian Ministry of Defence (MoD) described an emphasis on protection and lethality as it progresses with its soldier modernisation efforts, the Soldier Technology conference heard this week. Speaking at the event in London on 24 June, Johannes Bogner, Soldier Modernisation Programme Manager at the MoD explained how the transformation of the Austrian Armed Forces continued to take shape after its role expanded from an initial focus on homeland defence to operations abroad.

Describing how the country was aiming to be able to deploy an infantry battlegroup, Bogner said: “Protection of our personnel is our top priority, followed by protected mobility. New threats require a broad range of equipment available but the economic crisis means we have budget restrictions for the army.”

The Austrian MoD’s main effort, Bogner said, was to achieve a complete and integrated system capable of net-centric operations while being modular and adaptable in nature.

The challenge is that we have to see the soldier as a human being and not overload him physically or psychologically,’ he continued while describing the wide ranging spectrum of operational scenarios he is coming up against including symmetric and asymmetric warfare in all environments and climates, as well as in collaboration with coalition partners, non-government organisations and in changing cultural settings. Bogner also highlighted requirements to stick to rules of engagement as well as multi-role capabilities of the dismounted soldiers.

Austria’s soldier modernisation effort has been broken down into two programmes, including the Soldier 2018 (formerly Soldier 2015) effort and the Future Soldier (Soldat der Zukunft) concept which anticipates procurement of equipment from 2020 and beyond.

The focus of the Soldier 2018 concept heavily centres around personnel protection including combat helmet, ears and eyes protection, CBRN protection, night vision and body armour. Additionally, it covers a personal role radio and headset as well as lethality focused on .308, .338 and .50-cal sniper rifles; 7.62mm light machine guns; 60mm light mortars; 5.56mm assault rifles; and light ATGMs.

Field trials are conducted in 2013 alongside the Norwegian Armed Forces with further trials intended between 2016 and 2018. This evaluation process will see how all the components fit together and impacts on the tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) and integration issues of the soldier.

Challenges, Bogner said, would likely comprise net-centric capabilities, situation awareness, size, weight and power issues, ergonomics, integration versus modularity and interoperability.

Other areas of interest focus on Image Intensification, Thermal Imaging and holographic weapon sights; laser light modules, back up iron sights, as well as weight of ammunition, protection, sights, uniform and batteries..

The soldier just needs to have the equipment allowing him execute his role,” Bogner said.

Emphasising ongoing cooperation with other international soldier modernisation programmes, Bogner described how such technology was “a key issue” for so many partner nations over the next few years and said the market would see a marked proliferation of such equipment in the battlefield in that period of time.

It is critical to the improvement of the combat effectiveness of dismounted soldiers in the multinational environment,” he added.
Andrew White

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