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  • Writer's pictureCDR (ret.) Eyal Pinko, Ph.D.

Because we're looking at what's possible: Advanced navigation capabilities for future battlefield

Updated: Aug 26, 2021

The modern and future ground battlefield combat scenarios present many and varied challenges for the operational units. The operational units need to operate in various terrain conditions and weather conditions against a wide variety of adversaries.

The operational units are required to carry out combat operations, including special and surgical operations deep in the enemy's territory, during peacetime between military campaigns, and to develop combat capabilities against regular armies and terrorist groups during a military campaign.

There are many technical and operational requirements needed to be implemented to have these capabilities. Among them, we can state high survivability, stealthy, lethality, long-endurance in the field, covert force communication, and the ability to orient and navigate

The gear and equipment used by land forces operational units, special units, and the lone soldier have become sophisticated and advanced, assisting them in accomplishing diverse and complicated operational requirements.

To meet the modern battlefield's diverse operational requirements, land forces and special units adopt and assimilate the civilian market's technological achievements and capabilities. Those civilian capabilities are being implemented in military systems.

Such capability is the capability to navigate and orient oneself on the battlefield while building a force unified battlefield picture. Navigation and orientation are the most critical and essential technologies, which constitutes a significant power multiplier of the operational unit's capability, whether large operational units (such as battalions or platoons) or commando forces.

One of the most advanced and state-of-the-art navigation and orientation systems is the Orion system developed by the Israeli high-tech company Asio Technologies.

The Orion system is designed for military and civilian applications, which require a quick re-action, inexpensive, adaptive, agile, and easy to use solution. For its civilian applications, the system is suitable for police and law enforcement agencies, hunters, hikers, and the like.

The Israeli Orion system is based on high-quality and advanced civilian hardware, such as mobile phones and tablets. This type of hardware withstands severe environmental and weather conditions and implements the Android operating system, an operating system with an open and flexible architecture - the Orion, an Android-based system, is being operated intuitively and familiar to all of us.

And what are actually the special capabilities of the Israeli Orion system, which combat operators and operational units can take advantage of?

The system's primary capability is designed and implemented to enable the various command levels in the battlefield, from the youngest soldier to the most senior officer, to orient themselves in the battlefield and navigate it.

First, the Orion system enables the user to view the map, with many layers of information, as the user needs. The map and its location are introduced to the user with very high accuracy. The high accuracy is achieved by GPS reception and the hardware-sensitive sensors.

The high accuracy location and orientation capability integrate with a sophisticated function known as "Augmented Orientation." "Augmented Orientation" is actually a reflection of the operational and intelligence information map layers on top of the system's camera image. The user sees the "Augmented Orientation" picture on his display screen as one picture containing the camera's image with all the information he needs to accomplish his mission successfully. The information layers being displayed are, for example, identified places, destinations, targets, navigation obstacles, friendly forces, adversaries' forces, neutral forces, and other operational and intelligence information.

The Orion system's second essential capability is an advanced mission planning capability for a military unit or lone soldier, including selecting an adaptive navigation axis, depending on varying road conditions, and considering various parameters relevant to the operator, the mission, the intelligence, and the battlefield topography.

Mission planning capability and navigation paths combine capabilities from the world of gaming, 3-Dimensional aerial photography, and Virtual Reality. The integration of those technologies in the Orion system's mission planning module enables the user to illustrate and simulate the operational area, navigation routes, and topography closest to reality.

The mission planning module makes it possible for the user to study the area, plan the mission in the best way before the mission, interrogate and de-brief all its moves and decisions after accomplishing the mission, and return home safely.

ASIO Technologies Orion system has two main operational modes. The first operational mode is a stand-alone navigation and orientation system, used by the operational unit or by the combat soldier, without communication to the headquarters or the unit command.

The stand-alone mode is based on the deep understanding that the modern battlefield is saturated with electronic warfare systems, which are likely to shut down or disrupt communication and GPS/GNSS signals.

The second Orion system's mode of operation is "working in a force." The "working in a force" mode means that each Orion system is part of a network, formulated as one command and control system (C4I). This capability of network operation enables the operational unit to share intelligence, targets, measures, messages, and an overall and unified view of the battlefield for all levels of command and combat units.

The ASIO Technologies Orion system was developed based on many years of tactical combat experience. It was designed and developed to be used at the tactical level, considering all the needs, requirements, and challenges facing combat soldiers and operational units.

The Orion Technologies system operates successfully for years in the Israeli Defense Forces units. It has gained extensive combat and operational experience in various topographical areas, weather conditions, and combat scenarios.

For any combat soldier, law enforcement officer, intelligence officer, or any other individual who knows how to run navigation applications such as Waze or Google maps, launching and operating the Orion navigation system will be easy, simple, and intuitive.

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