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Germany's blackned, Rheinmetall team to develop new IdZ soldier system

German company blackned has partnered with Rheinmetall to develop the next version of the German Army’s Infantryman of the Future (Infanterist der Zukunft: IdZ) soldier system, incorporating blackned’s Guardstack android-based smartphone app as the single software-based security, integration, human-machine interface (HMI), and system management device.

Speaking at the SMi virtual Future Soldier Technology conference in March, blackned CEO Timo Haas explained that Guardstack technology emerged from work on the Bundeswehr’s Digitisation of Land Based Operations (DLBO) programme, evolving into a commercially available software package.

Guardstack consists of four software layers: the application layer, which is a trusted, isolated virtual environment; the security layer that enables end-to-end classified information exchange over unclassified networks; the platform layer that provides a secure, interoperable, and self-controlled communication platform; and a management layer that provides vendor-agnostic network administration and monitoring.

Haas explained that the system overlays an embedded security solution with a software-based classified information element, enabling it “to host containerised information security and trusted environments for different applications”. This follows the Federated Mission Network (FMN) and NATO principle of an unclassified transport domain and a classified information domain that is purely a software entity. This avoids the need for classified links, which is particularly desirable in coalition operations.

He said the capability can be used at all operational levels and by all entities likely to be involved in the current operations, ranging from military to non-governmental organisations.

blackned has adapted the technology for use in a soldier system, with the key concept that has a single user-facing component, a 5G smartphone, at its core. Haas said that a requirement for the Bundeswehr’s IdZ was that the interface should be on a commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) smartphone, with a standard operating system (OS) that had user familiarity.

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