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Goodbye to MILES

USMC To Replace Laser-based Tactical Training System

Dec. 5, 2011 - 03:45AM   |  
By MICHAEL PECK   |   Comments
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The U.S. Marine Corps' MILES small-arms training gear is fading away, to be replaced in 2012 by a more sophisticated system. Cubic won a five-year contract, worth up to $49.5 million, for the new Instrumented-Tactical Engagement Simulation System (I-TESS) II.

MILES - the Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System also built by Cubic - and I-TESS share the same basic concept: Small-arms transmitters fire laser "bullets" that are detected by sensors worn by Marines or mounted on vehicles. But I-TESS adds several refinements, including embedded GPS tracking and more realistic "hit" assessments.

As part of the contract, the San Diego company has already received a $28.5 million delivery order for I-TESS II, which will be deployed at Marine Corps bases at Quantico, Va., and Hawaii, as well as the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, Calif.; Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif.; Camp Lejeune, N.C.; Camp Pendleton, Calif.; and Camp Hansen, Okinawa.

I-TESS II follows I-TESS I, for which Saab Training USA won a $28.8 million contract in 2009. Col. David Smith, the Marine Corps' program manager for training systems, describes Increment II as an enhancement of Increment I.

"I wouldn't call it a product improvement necessarily because it's a different vendor with Increment II," Smith said. "But it certainly has a significant number of advanced capabilities, with probably the most important one being that it is a fully integrated system, as compared to the pieces and parts that we fielded in Increment I."

The I-TESS II system consists of a small-arms transmitter, which can be used with M9 pistols; M4, M16 and AK47 rifles; M40 sniper rifles; M249 automatic weapons; M2 and M240G machine guns; rocket-propelled grenades; and AT4 rocket launchers. There also is a man-worn detection system, audio and visual effects to simulate hand grenades, and tracking and engagement gear for vehicles and fixed structures. The system also includes instrumentation for command and control, and military operations in urban terrain buildings.

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I-TESS II can simulate indirect fire by plotting the GPS location of a Marine, as well as his body orientation and protective gear, versus the type, burst radius and projected impact point of munitions. The system also has a capability for chemical warfare training.

"The M50 gas mask training canister allows for a simulated [chemical] event for the first time in an instrumented combat training environment," Smith said.

I-TESS II offers several improvements over its predecessor, MILES, Smith said. The concept of the basic MILES system is black and white: If a shot "hits" a Marine, it's a kill, no matter where it hit the body or whether the user was wearing protective gear. I-TESS II will address this, with the location and severity of the wound as determining factors.

MILES also lacks the embedded tracking that has become a standard feature in newer live training systems. I-TESS II allows real-time tracking of individuals and vehicles, in indoor and outdoor conditions, via a GPS and radio system that sends data to a central command station and allows controllers to adjust the exercise as it happens. Where MILES engagement data had to be individually downloaded from each user's vest for post-exercise analysis, the new system automatically transmits data for an immediate after-action review.

I-TESS II expands on I-TESS I with a new battlefield effects simulation interface module that replicates the effects of improvised explosive devices. It also incorporates lighter detection harnesses and a wireless independent target system for direct and indirect weapons fire against vehicles and structures, which tells occupants that they have been hit and the extent of the damage.

However, the Marine Corps doesn't plan to replace MILES in one fell swoop. "The MILES 2000 gear will be in the Marine Corps inventory until there have been enough of the I-TESS products to replace MILES 2000 on a one-for-one basis," Smith said. "I-TESS II brings some capability enhancements to the I-TESS family, but I-TESS I will not be upgraded to I-TESS II."

I-TESS I and II can operate together, with both systems using the MILES communication code for laser gear. However, Smith said it is unlikely that MILES, I-TESS I and I-TESS II will be operated simultaneously.

The U.S. Army is also interested in the I-TESS technology. Smith and Col. Michael Flanagan, the Army's program manager for training devices (PM TRADE), signed an agreement to cooperate on similar training requirements.

"PM TRADE has the Live Training Transformation Portal, which has a variety of training technologies from which we are able to select and tailor for USMC requirements, such as the Range Instrumentation Systems Exercise Control system," Smith said. "PM TRADE is mainly interested in our I-TESS II improvements and in future Marine Corps plans for combat vehicle instrumentation solutions."

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