DoD Buzz

Rugged Phones Ready For War

Just as smartphones have become an icon of the civilian world, they may soon find their way into every soldier’s kit.

Take a look at General Dynamics’ version of the battlefield smartphone.

The GD300 features a highly-sensitive GPS, 3.5 inch touch screen and the ability to connect door-kickers to the tactical network.

“It’s a commercial GPS as a stand-alone unit, but the beauty of it is with a click of a cable you can connect it to” secure communications gear such as the Joint Tactical Radio System, said Jason Jacob, product manager for General Dynamics Itronix, a commercial arm of GD C4 Systems.

“We are looking to supply these to every dismounted soldier,” Jacob said.

GD is one of several companies developing military-style smartphones in response to the Army’s acknowledgement that the technology could prove useful on the digital battlefield. The Army has been testing a mix of 200 iPhones and other smartphones at Fort Bliss for several months, trying to figure out their best uses and to see how they hold up.

The Android-based GD300 can be mounted on the forearm or chest. At 8 ounces, it’s a “lightweight, fully rugged device” that measures 5.8 inches long, 2.6 inches wide and .7 inches thick, Jacob said. It has a 600MHz processor and a Lithium-ion battery good for 8 hours of use.

A simple cable will connect the GD300 to tactical radios that use software such as the Enhanced Position Locating Reporting System. Once connected, the GD300 can send and receive text messages and graphics and use situational-awareness tools such as Blue Force Tracker.

GD wants the Army, and other services to buy it, but the company also plans to sell the GD300 commercially.

“In the future, I do expect that any soldier could order it,” Jacobs said.

It won’t be cheap though. Right now it costs about $1,200, Jacob said, but the price could drop below $1,000 on bulk orders.

Matthew Cox is a contributor to DoD Buzz. His work can be found at www.tacticalwriter.com.

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