General Dynamics is displaying its Nett Warrior system at Modern Day Marine in Quantico, Va., this week in the hope of garnering interest from the Marine Corps. US soldiers have already deployed with the equipment to Afghanistan. (US Army)
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QUANTICO, VA. — The US Army’s 4th Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, has been using a lightweight smartphone/radio communications system in eastern Afghanistan since July, while conducting its mission training and advising Afghan Army troops during combat operations.
The General Dynamics-made Nett Warrior system — which did a tour in Afghanistan with US Army Rangers in early 2012 — is composed of a commercial smartphone strapped to a soldier’s wrist or body armor, and connected to a GD-made Rifleman Radio, allowing dismounted infantrymen to send and receive pictures, streaming video and intelligence with higher headquarters in real time.
And now that the Marine Corps is heading back to the sea to conduct dispersed operations across the Middle East, Africa and the Pacific, it would seem like the system — which communicates by bouncing its signals off of the Mobile User Objective System satellites — would make a lot of sense.
That is, if the Corps had the cash to buy some, which it likely doesn’t.
Still, GD showed off the capability at Modern Day Marine this week, even if the service hasn’t made any public comments about the system.
The Corps has actually taken a look at Nett Warrior, said Chris Marzilli, president of General Dynamics C4 Systems. He said “the Marines have considered Nett Warrior all along” and have checked it out as part of the Army’s Network Integration Evaluation events at Fort Bliss over the past several years.
But perhaps the biggest reason the company is showing off its capabilities here are that they’re compatible with two key programs that should be coming on line in the next several years: US Special Operations Command’s Ground Mobility Vehicle and the Internally Transportable Vehicle, both contracts that GD has won in the last several months.
“It’s really just promoting the awareness that these things exist,” said Marzilli about the company’s decision to feature the system here. “These are now available to the Marine Corps as non-developmental systems, and with the proven waveform that the system operates on, there’s going to be a government-owned capability that we believe will serve the Marine and special ops.”