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UK's BAE Systems shows new hi-tech soldier system: interview

AvantiKumar | March 31, 2016
Does Broadsword technology signal a time when cyber troops will take the lead in future engagements?

Broadsworth technology - soldier system  

Image -  BAE Systems'Broadsworth soldier system


UK-based defence, security and aerospace manufacturer BAE Systems recently showed in Malaysia a new hi-tech soldier system - called Broadsword.

Computerworld Malaysia asked a BAE Systems Broadsword engineering team spokesperson for a quick Q&A rundown on the Broadsword family of defence technology components, based on open standards, which has recently been made available for sale to military, law enforcement and first responders in this region.

Broadsword Technology family 

Image  - BAE Systems' Broadsword family of components

Can we start with an introduction of the Broadsword family of components and what has been made available to forces in the Southeast Asia region?

Broadsword is a product family of soldier system components that will "plug and play" with the Broadsword Spine. [Broadsword and Spine carry the trademark - TM - sign.]

The Spine is an E-textile based garment insert providing a truly wearable and invisible, power and data distribution network through fabric.

There are a number of prototype Broadsword components developed by BAE Systems and third party companies, which will be adopted into the Broadsword family of products as they reach maturity.

BAE Systems will market the Spine as a component to load carriage suppliers, equipment suppliers and system integrators as well as, where appropriate, offering a complete Soldier System package.

Broadsword Spine

Image - The Broadsword Spine

What can you tell me about the development story behind the Broadsword portfolio?

The product was born from bringing a world leading E-textile technology research company (Intelligent Textiles Limited) together with a world class defence technology company (BAE Systems) to deliver a new technology for the military, law enforcement and first responders.

 The pioneering work by the UK Ministry of Defence in defining an open standard for soldier system architectures has shaped the interoperability of our solution to meet the needs of forces around the world.

Broadsword Technology 2 e-system 

image - Broadsword Technology e-system


How is this family of soldier systems an improvement on previous solutions and practices?

Many have tried to create a Soldier System by selecting a large number of soldier equipment gadgets, attaching them to the body in various places and then wiring them up with traditional wiring harnesses.

The result has been heavy, unreliable systems that are covered in snag hazards and impair not improve the soldier's effectiveness.

The Broadsword Spine approach is to design a piece of wearable technology that seamlessly and invisibly provides the power and data architecture to allow the user to connect and use any piece of soldier equipment, "pick and mix" with "plug and play".

The Spine weighs less than a traditional wiring harness, is more robust, has zero snag hazards and supports central energy distribution to significantly reduce the weight and logistics burden of batteries.

What has been the overall response from governments in the region? 

We have provided evaluation units to a number of agencies in various countries and already have interest from many more governments.

Looking ahead, how do you see 21st century military engagements changing - especially with the rapid adoption of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and IoT (Internet of Things)?

The role of the infantry soldier has always been demanding and dangerous and is performed by the most heroic of people with amazing physical and mental strength, in some of the worst conditions imaginable.

History has shown that the tools provided to these brave men and women have developed considerably, improving effectiveness and survivability, but the job still requires heroes.

 Image (below) - Broadsword Technology jacket

Broadsword Technology jacket


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