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SPECIAL REPORT: NEXT GENERATION RUGGED COMPUTERS AND PERIPHERAL EQUIPMENT

service and training contracts to high levels of satisfaction in Mission Command, the complexity of the procurement process for ruggedized and other computers for the British Ministry of Defence has led to poor delivery. “The Department urgently needs better supply chain information systems with the appropriate skills and processes to match. It currently keeps the armed forces supplied by either stockpiling more than necessary, sending too many routine items by air, or both. This ties-up precious resources that could be better used to support troops.” said Amyas Morse, Comptroller, National Audit Office.16 The DII (The Defence Information Infrastructure Programme) estimated to cost £4.9 billion (the prime contractor, the Atlas consortium, comprising EDS, Fujitsu, EADS, General Dynamics, Logica and CMG is running behind schedule and is experiencing delays. Nevertheless, Atlas consortium staff and personnel from 30 Signal Regiment are testing the land-deployed version of DII. Equipment including the ruggedised laptops for use on the frontline has been handed over to 30 Signal Regiment at their headquarters in Bramcote, Warwickshire, by the Land Deployed Implementation team of engineers and specialists. Recent exercises saw the regiment put the DII Land Deployed nodes through the full end-to-end deployment sequence of ‘Plan, Prepare, Deploy, sustain and recover’ that they would go through when deployed in a live theatre of operations.17

The New Ruggedized Notebook “The JAMES Unplugged Device (JUD), the ruggedised notebook-tablet hybrid providing functionality while away from a DII (F) terminal, has given rollout a major boost. Devices take a ‘cut’ of the main system with users carrying out regular updates between

themselves and the mainframe, often by a USB stick or more secure communications like Bowman.” These are the latest all-weather laptop computers to help keep tabs on key pieces of kit. Sgt Paul Mears of the JAMES’ implementation team said: “They were put to the test by four separate units, ….the biggest problem, as with any new system, was user knowledge and experience. This has been a simple issue to overcome thanks to the presence of the activation teams via further teaching and mentoring during the deployment process.” JAMES’ next test is next year. (2012) “Implementing the new system is very complex,” said Sgt Mears. “However, with more units coming online every day and the personnel mentored appreciating its many advantages, a little time and planning will see the challenges met head on and overcome.”18 DE&S JAMES Capability Manager Stewart Ward said: “It would enable personnel to manage any of nine million pieces of Armed Forces’ landbased equipment from wherever they were based in the world.” Laptops have already been delivered to personnel from the British 4 Mechanized Brigade in April. The devices are built to withstand rain showers and dust storms and can cope with shocks, vibrations and survive being dropped from a height of 1.2 metres. Peter Molyneux, from manufacturer Getac said: “It looks rugged and it is. It’s a notebook-tablet hybrid – troops can use the keyboard or if preferred the touch screen for data input. Our guys out there will be operating in difficult environments and the computer is an important tool, so it has to work.”19

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Special Report on Next Generation Rugged Computers and Peripheral Equipment  

Defence Industry – Special Report on Next Generation Rugged Computers and Peripheral Equipment

Special Report on Next Generation Rugged Computers and Peripheral Equipment  

Defence Industry – Special Report on Next Generation Rugged Computers and Peripheral Equipment