Electronics have become so much a part of modern warfare that batteries are now one of the key commodities, with nearly everything in a soldier’s pack requiring juice to run.
But did you know the average pack a soldier has to carry weighs in at 41kg? With this in mind, it is of little surprise that batteries often get lost, leaving a solider light on the power front.
In an attempt to make things easier (and lighter), BAE Systems have teamed up with Intelligent Textiles Limited to create the Broadsword Spine. This is an electronic textile device which is incorporated into the clothing of a soldier, which acts as an invisible data network and power supply.
The device includes a battery pack which rests in the small of the back, and a series of conductive fabric conduits, complete with eight USB ports providing 180 watts of power and data links. This can be incorporated into different items of clothing, such as the combat vest, belt or jacket.
BAE say that the new system can provide an estimated 40% weight savings, whilst being much more streamlined due to the tangle of battery packs and cables being replaced. It can also be recharged from vehicle charging points, as well as being more flexible, durable and resistant to fire, water, shock and humidity.
Broadsword Spine also meets the British Ministry of Defence’s Generic Soldier Architecture Standard, and the partners who created it also see it having applications in the police service, as well as fire and rescue.
Speaking of the system, BAE Systems Defence Information and Technology Director within Military Air and Information Paul Burke said:
"It is the first product of our partnership with ITL and uses its revolutionary e-textile allowing power and data to move through fabric. It will be more flexible, robust, and lighter than the heavy, unwieldy harnesses which are currently used.
“Broadsword Spine offers an open architecture, meaning it could be used to power communications used by anyone from a soldier on the battlefield to a first responder called to an emergency."
Whether or not this system will be given civilian application is yet to be seen, but can you imagine how useful it would be for keeping airsoft guns charged?! We will certainly have our fingers crossed!