FORT SILL, Okla. — Industry partners, government leads and Soldiers from around the United States gathered at Fort Sill, Okla., for the annual Maneuver Fires Integrated Experiment Dec. 4 – 14.
Hosted by the Fires Battle Lab, MFIX is an event that allows programs to experiment ways to bridge the gap in Army capabilities and find possible solutions using emerging technologies.
The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center came prepared to showcase improvements to its premiere software system, the Maneuver, Aviation and Fires Integrated Application, part of the Battle Operations Software Suite.
“MFIX has become an opportunity for us to showcase our software and the integration of other components,” Software Systems Engineering Lead of BOSS, Ed Jackson said.
“For AMRDEC, it is a great opportunity to take what we’ve done, at a large event, to see what works, what could improve, what capabilities are needed. This helps TRADOC identify their capabilities gaps, and it helps us understand what the warfighter needs.”
BOSS began as only the Precision Fires Manager communication, mapping and effects planning software, currently fielded in theater. BOSS is a family of software applications designed to aid maneuver units by facilitating rapid communication to sensor and weapon systems on a closed network to provide accurate targeting and situational awareness data to Soldiers and systems in urban and rural environments. MAFIA, developed by AMRDEC’s Software Engineering Directorate, is at the center of the BOSS software.
The MAFIA software application was created after the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning and the Fires Center of Excellence at Fort Sill, Okla., saw the need to combine two existing applications into a more robust application.
The app was presented at the first MFIX in 2013 and has been a key technology in the event ever since.
MAFIA provides swift communication through command levels and quickly generates precision coordinates for accurate, predictable, organic and immediate, precision and non-precision, fires in urban and rural environments.
MAFIA creates, sends and receives situational awareness and fire mission data between MAFIA End User Devices, command and control systems, external sensors and external weapon systems using a selection of radio devices and local area network connections.
During MFIX, MAFIA was able to connect with other software systems to provide an enhanced means of communication.
The features of MAFIA solve communication, targeting and situational awareness issues present in today’s battlefield and remove previous technology inaccuracies.
“As the environment we operate in continues to evolve, peer and near-peer threats have developed capabilities with the capacity to contest U.S. superiority,” said Maj. Gen. Wilson Shoffner, commanding general of the Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill. “The future Army force must maintain overmatch against all threats, in an environment of fiscal austerity and uncertainty. Here at Fort Sill we are able to provide a unique environment where industry leaders can experiment on rapidly evolving technology. The benefit to the Army is that we save money in research and development while getting a first look at new developments.”
“Simulations only go so far,” said Ron Green, part of the BOSS Event Team. “At MFIX, we’re using our equipment against real assets. When you have opportunity to test on hundreds of acres of land with radars, artillery rounds, Counter Unmanned Aircraft Systems, you get real time data and Army leaders get exposure to state-of-the-art technology.”
One of the key takeaways from MFIX is the feedback provided by Soldiers able to assess the technologies. Their feedback provides helpful information for future adjustments and improvements.
“This is our warfighters sitting down behind the seat, putting their hands on these technologies,” said Program Manager, Lucas Hunter. “They are trained on it, and then operate it. Their feedback is vital.”
The next MFIX event is scheduled to take place in Fall 2018, meanwhile organizations have time to take the data gained from the event and improve their systems. Other uses of the data gained from MFIX include improving tactics, techniques and procedures, and enhancing training for service members.
U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to provide innovative research, development and engineering to produce capabilities that provide decisive overmatch to the Army against the complexities of the current and future operating environments in support of the joint warfighter and the nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.