Soldiers and military vehicles connected via Squad X system for in field communication

DARPA Funding “Squad X” Experimentation

DARPA is looking to build a Call Of Duty like system for in-the-field soldiers to stay connected with eachother and their equipment while monitoring and tracing targets in real time.

The objective of the Squad X Experimentation program is to develop and deliver new technologies that enable next generation combined arms for the dismounted squad. This will be accomplished through research, development, integration, and experimentation to develop novel solutions that advance the capabilities of the squad.

Soldiers and military vehicles connected via Squad X system for in field communication
DARPA Squad X Artist’s Concept

The Squad X Experimentation program is an advanced technology system development program designed to create a paradigm shift in squad operations through man-machine teaming, increased intelligence and precision effects. By integrating physical domain operations with electromagnetic spectrum and cyberspace operations and performing extensive experimentation, Squad X Experimentation will enable next generation combined arms at the dismounted squad level.

Squad structure and mission tasks have remained largely static since the inception of the rifle squad during World War II, but the world has changed substantially. Thus, the squad is the formation with the greatest potential for impact and innovation, while having the lowest barrier to entry for system prototyping and experimentation. The lessons learned and technology developed in the Squad X Experimentation program will be extensible to other maneuver formations.
The role of the rifle squad leader in the Army and Marine Corps is one of the most challenging duty assignments in the U.S. Armed Forces. Squads and their leaders operate in complex environments with significant physical, cognitive, and material limitations and burdens. Dismounted squads will operate in an increasingly connected and global society that requires precise operations in all domains. Adversaries can readily exploit the physical, electromagnetic spectrum, and cyberspace domains for movement, communications, and concealment, especially in their own terrain.

Future threats will continue to employ increasingly lethal, single-domain capabilities and eventually employ multi-domain capabilities. The current design of Army and Marine Corps rifle squads, however, is for linear, deterministic, and single domain operations. Squads are not able to conduct operations in multiple domains, such as the electromagnetic spectrum and cyberspace, without significant support from outside the squad, which often comes from static locations. The additional support is not easily integrated into the squad’s operations, often negatively impacts their operations by increasing the squad’s physical and cognitive burdens, and is not designed to support maneuver operations.

By creating novel combined arms at the squad level, Squad X will overmatch its adversaries through the synchronization of fire and maneuver in the physical, electromagnetic spectrum, and cyberspace domains. Figure 1 shows the high-level vision for Squad X. The system will combine humans and unmanned assets, ubiquitous communications and information, and advanced capabilities in all domains to maximize squad performance in increasingly complex operational environments.

DARPA is awarding up to 44.5 Million USD in the beginning stages of this system design.

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