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Urban Warfighters Train With RTLS

Lockheed Martin's Urban Operations Training System now includes technology from Q-Track to help pinpoint trainees' locations as they simulate urban warfare, thereby enhancing data used to evaluate their performance.
By Claire Swedberg
Jan 15, 2014

Lockheed Martin is adding real-time location system (RTLS) functionality to its Urban Operations Training System (UOTS) that allows military agencies training their warfighters to know each individual's exact location, and thus have accurate information for reviewing a training event. One of Lockheed Martin's customers is installing the RTLS-enabled UOTS system—though neither the identity of that agency nor its location could be disclosed. Lockheed Martin is employing the Near-Field Electromagnetic Ranging (NFER) RTLS system developed by Q-Track, of Huntsville, Al. Q-Track is providing its battery-powered tags, as well as readers (which Q-Track refers to as locators or receivers) and software to interpret location data and integrate that information into Lockheed's UOTS software platform.

To enable RTLS functionality, a Q-Track QT-640 soldier-tracking tag is attached to each trainee's vest.
The training of warfighters has grown more complex, as battlefields are often located in cities and a variety of indoor urban environments. Military and security agencies train soldiers or officers to understand such an environment, and to identify any threat and respond appropriately. The training often consists of sending fighters into an area—such as multiple vacant residential buildings or warehouses, or between buildings—to complete a simulated mission, such as securing the area and removing any remaining hostile forces. Other team members play the role of enemy combatants, and innocent bystanders and the trainees must respond appropriately to their presence.

One important component of the training is evaluating each individual's performance. Traditionally, without automation technology, this is accomplished by having a training officer physically watch the exercise, but the many separate rooms and otherwise complex environment of these urban training programs can make that option unfeasible. Lockheed Martin's UOTS program consists of cameras that record footage of the training exercises, as well as Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement Systems (MILES), which identify when soldiers fire their laser-based weapons and when others are hit by those lasers. The UOTS solution provides instructors with live data indicating which weapons are fired, as well as which individuals are hit, while cameras supply video footage that they begin recording upon sensing the presence of fighters, via motion or optical sensors. The system can also include location data derived from GPS technology, though GPS does not provide very specific location data, nor does it operate indoors.

Lockheed Martin's Jeremy Riehl
With the RTLS technology, however, the location data becomes much more precise and can be collected indoors, according to Jeremy Riehl, Lockheed Martin's program manager for training and logistics solutions. In December 2013, the firm signed a $1.7 million contract with Q-Track to provide its RTLS technology for the unnamed customer. Lockheed Martin surveyed a variety of technology alternatives prior to selecting Q-Track's NFER RTLS solution for this application.

With the solution in place, a Q-Track soldier-tracking tag (model QT-640) is attached to the trainee's MILES vest, and enough locators are installed so that the system can determine a tag's location to an accuracy greater than 1 meter (3.3 feet). In that way, individuals can be located within a particular room, on a given floor, or in a specific location outdoors, between buildings.

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