November 10, 2011
Marshall Land Systems demonstrated improved network interoperability for UK MOD Forward Operating Bases
As announced in a recent press release, a team from Marshall Land Systems has recently deployed as part of Team Castrum on GBA2, a demonstration of network concepts and standardisation for Forward Operating Bases, held at Caerwent, South Wales. During the demonstration to the UK MOD and other interested observers the team showed a generic base architecture (GBA) which enables information to be freely moved around a secure network and between FOBs providing commanders from section level upwards with operational and logistic data.
During the exercise, Team Castrum, led by Finmecanica Battlespace Solutions, demonstrated a family of fully networked, sustainable and deployable bases all interacting with one another. Marshall Land Systems provided perimeter surveillance using its Trakker unmanned ground vehicle fitted with a 3 meter Clark Mast on top of which was Chess Dynamics’ OWL thermal imaging and video cameras. Fitted to the rear of the vehicle was a Roke Manor Resolve EW system.
Base security was provided from a Marshall SafeBase deployable armoured sangar fitted with a Selex Galileo remote weapon station. A sensor fit could also be deployed.
SafeBase is based on a 10ft Marshall shelter with a rising sentry position, which can be lifted into position in 30 seconds. Once deployed the space in the base of the tower can have multiple uses. It can for example serve as a mini operations room or as an RWS (Remote Weapon Station) control station.
Marshall provided a main briefing facility in an expandable shelter fitted with TV monitors and networked briefing stations. In other parts of the main FOB were a laundry unit and ablutions block provided by the company's Norwegian partner, CSI. These shelters were supported by a deployable incinerator provided in partnership with Inciner8. All of these units can be networked into the GBA and provide commanders with information on water and fuel usage and waste management and in the briefing centre an overall situational awareness picture.
The Context (GBA, FOBEX)
A Forward Operating Base (or FOB) is a military base which provides troops with a secure location to operate from in forward areas. A FOB may be used over extended periods of time and although not able to provide full support facilities, it provides the infrastructure troops need to survive in the field, including accommodation, living/dining quarters, even an airfield in some cases. Because of their remote locations a FOB must be self sufficient – in forward areas there are no power grids to plug into. The base must provide the power needed to support the all of the infrastructure. Currently all bases are powered by diesel generators, necessitating regular and hazardous resupply convoys.
Forward Operationg Bases should be modular and simply deployable. In their design they must conform where feasible to open standards, thus allowing greater flexibility of configuration, interoperability and portability of component parts. This reduces logistic footprint whilst maximising their utility. A systems approach should ensure their individual integrity and architectural commonality across the generic ‘family’. They should also offer climatic protection in extreme conditions, 24 hour and all-weather performance, and be deployable in complex terrain. The current design for such bases is heavily reliant upon networked information and intelligence to support command. Bases should be protected by layered local surveillance, operating across the electromagnetic spectrum.
GBA (Generic Base Architecture) and FOBEX (Forward Operating Base Exercise) is UK Defence’s future deployable Tactical Base (TB) capability in the land environment. The requirement for this development work is partly based upon emerging experience and operational requirements from Operation Herrick (the codename under which all British operations in the war in Afghanistan have been conducted since 2002). The generic base architecture project aims to develop the thinking of the tactical base as a system, rather than a collection of constituent parts, that will enable them to be easily adapted when the need arises, cutting the work in theatre, and reducing the operational burden.
"Team Castrum was a great partnership and all parties learnt a lot. GBA2 (FOBEX) has enabled us to demonstrate to a wide range of military and industrial customers, how Marshall Land Systems can integrate into an overall operating base concept. Working as part of Team Castrum has given us an even greater depth of knowledge of networking within a deployed environment," said Peter Callaghan, Chief Executive of Marshall Land Systems.
"The idea of FOBEX is looking at ways we can be more efficient. Having lighter and more portable kit, which is quicker to assemble and creates more of a standard base, will not only use less energy but save lives," said Captain Christian Hulme, of the UK Royal Engineers.
References: Marshall-LS (1), Finmeccanica (2), Connect (3), UK MOD (4)