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DARPA SXCT Program to Enhance the Rifle Squad

 

In advance of a planned broad agency announcement, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is preparing to hold a “proposers day” for its emerging Squad X Core Technologies (SXCT) program. The advanced technology SXCT effort, which takes a holistic approach to future tactical operations at the squad level, is designed to “adapt, extend, and develop capabilities that enhance the dismounted rifle squad’s situational awareness and enable them to shape and dominate their battlespace.”

Squad Autonomy will seek to enhance several aspects of situational awareness in GPS-denied environments “through collaboration with embedded unmanned air and ground systems.”

DARPA planners note that the goal of SXCT is “to speed the development of new, lightweight, integrated systems that provide infantry squads unprecedented awareness, adaptability and flexibility in complex environments, and enable dismounted Soldiers and Marines to more intuitively understand and control their complex mission environments.”

“SXCT aims to help dismounted infantry squads have deep awareness of what’s around them, detect threats from farther away and, when necessary, engage adversaries more quickly and precisely than ever before,” said Maj. Christopher Orlowski, DARPA program manager. “We are working towards advanced capabilities that would make dismounted infantry squads more adaptable, safe and effective.”

Building on responses to two previous requests for information (RFI), the multi-year multi-phase SXCT program is directed toward four key technical areas:

  • Precision Engagement;
  • Non-Kinetic Engagement;
  • Squad Sensing; and
  • Squad Autonomy

In the case of Precision Engagement, for example, SXCT is exploring technologies to facilitate the engagement of threats out to 1,000 meters “while maintaining compatibility with infantry weapon systems and without imposing weight or operational burdens that would negatively affect mission effectiveness.”

Non-Kinetic Engagement capabilities will explore the disruption of enemy command and control, communications and use of unmanned assets at a squad-relevant operational pace.

The Squad Sensing focus would likely exploit some similar technologies in efforts to detect potential threats out to 1,000 meters while moving at a squad-relevant operational pace.

Finally, Squad Autonomy will seek to enhance several aspects of situational awareness in GPS-denied environments “through collaboration with embedded unmanned air and ground systems.”

Current plans call for holding the SXCT Proposers Day event at DARPA offices on Feb. 27, 2015.

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Scott Gourley is a former U.S. Army officer and the author of more than 1,500...