At the recent Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI 2021) exposition in London, the British Army showed off its new future soldier concept. Developed under the program name ‘TommyWorks’ the UK’s land forces are looking to develop a more integrated and situationally aware soldier. The British Army’s theme for DSEI was ‘Future soldier: an integrated Army’
TommyWorks is a reference to the long held nickname of ‘Tommy’ for British soldiers. Similar future soldier efforts in Australia, DiggerWorks, have also used the traditional nickname for Australian soldiers. TommyWorks is a project led by the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (or DSTL) and the Aurora engineering partnership, which consists of QinetiQ, Atkins and BMT.
The TommyWorks project is using spiral development to enhance capabilities and inform the development of the Army’s Land Industrial Strategy and is part of the Future Land Combat System. Looking forward TommyWorks aim is to enable ‘Multi Domain Integration’ and work with “industry to iteratively upgrade capabilities to exploit advances in technology and adapt to emerging threats.”
The program’s goal is to develop and eventually field capabilities including health monitoring, centralised power and data hubs, smart weapons and sighting systems, combined night vision and augmented reality heads up displays, exoskeletons and seamless integration with emerging tech like unmanned ground systems.
The British Army’s display at DSEI 2021 displayed the latest upgrades to the SA80 rifle, the SA80A3 / L85A3. This includes the upgrades made to the rifle over the last 18 months and the new M-LOK handguards which replaced the HKey seen on the initial SA80A3s.
The most interesting element on the SA80A3 displayed was the new ARILLS (Assault Rifle In-Line Low Light Sight). The ARILLS, known as TALON, is a ‘Fused Weapon Sight – Image Intensifier / Thermal Imager’. Excelitas were awarded a contract to supply the ARILLS back in early 2020, with 2,400 systems ordered. Excelitas says the “TALON combines the latest Image Intensification and Uncooled Thermal Imaging capability in a compact and lightweight ruggedized package. TALON is fitted with a 12 μm, 60 Hz uncooled thermal sensor coupled with a near-silent shutter… low power architecture and is operated from just 2 commercially available Lithium AA batteries.”
We have covered the SA80A3 in more detail here.