As described by the Marine Corps Systems Command’s (MCSC) Fire Support Systems (FSS) program office, “the ITV is an expeditionary vehicle designed to fly internally in the MV-22 Osprey and CV-22 (Air Force) tilt-rotor aircraft. Also capable of flying in the CH-53 and CH/MH-47 (Army) helicopters, and the C-130 and C-5 aircraft, its mission is to support over-the-horizon amphibious operations, irregular warfare and enhanced company operations. The vehicle provides the Marine Air-Ground Task Force commander with a ground vehicle to serve as a high-mobility weapons-capable platform to support a variety of operations such as reconnaissance, raids, tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel, and airfield seizure.”
The ITV also serves as prime mover for the EFSS. Fielded in mid-March to Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion, 10th Marines, in preparation for deployment with the 24th MEU, EFSS is comprised of an ITV prime mover vehicle, M327 120 mm rifled towed mortar, a family of insensitive munitions compliant ammunition, and an ammunition trailer.
The enhanced intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities outlined by Gates will further enhance the effects of the overriding land force trend toward a networked battlefield.
Even the ADM guidance on cancellation of elements of the FCS program emphasized the criticality of “additional programs for information and communications networks, unmanned ground and air vehicles and sensors, and an integration effort aimed at follow-on spinouts to all Army brigades.
Examples highlighted in Gates’ April 2009 speech included: Fielding and sustaining 50 Predator-class unmanned aerial vehicle orbits by FY 11 and maximizing their production (identified as “a 62 percent increase in capability over the current level and 127 percent from over a year ago”); Increasing manned ISR capabilities such as the turbo-prop aircraft deployed so successfully as part of Task Force Odin in Iraq; and Initiating research and development on a number of ISR enhancements and experimental platforms optimized for today’s battlefield.
The FCS networking effort also lost no time in applying technologies and lessons to broader warfighter needs.
Now designated as part of Army Brigade Combat Team Modernization, the Army’s network integration expertise was recently applied to Multinational Experiment (MNE) 3.0, designed to prove networking interoperability and combat data-sharing concepts in a joint service and multinational environment.
Describing the completion of the MNE 3.0 milestone in early June 2009, Maj. Troy Crosby, assistant product manager for the Joint Interagency Multinational Interoperability (JIMI) product office, observed, “We’re now building multinational and joint service interoperability into the network from the start and are incorporating lessons learned from the past seven years of combat operations in a joint and multinational battlespace environment.”
Culminating a yearlong effort, MNE 3.0 served to evaluate the preliminary secure network infrastructure necessary to send and receive accurate target acquisition data between U.S. and U.K. forces across the battlefield at brigade-and-below level. Today, due to bandwidth limitations and a lack of fixed infrastructure, secure data can only be transmitted at high chain-of-command levels and then retransmitted to soldiers who are carrying out the operations. “Once the network is fully developed, you get the ability to go directly across organizational levels; what you provide the soldier is speed to make a rapid but more informed decision,” Crosby said.
Marine Corps land operations will also benefit from increased networking capabilities. Highlighted by a mid-June 2009 contract revision announcement by General Dynamics C4 Systems was a new software-based command and control hub that will increase situational awareness, information sharing, and network connectivity across the tactical battlespace and up to the Global Information Grid.