From the sand-box to the tactile table

No more models, roads drawn in sand, layers of tracing paper over military maps, sticks and strings to demonstrate a manoeuvre. As operational readiness is about to step into the digital era so Nexter this week unveiled a new collaborative tool to prepare missions: FINDMP®.

 

Exit l'antique caisse sable, voici... (Crédit photo: Nathan Gain)

Out with the old sand box, and enter… (photo credit: Nathan Gain)

 

FINDMP® was partly developed with lessons learned from operations in Mali. Combat is speeding up, the rhythm of manoeuvres is accelerating, commanders are having to take many decisions almost instantaneously,” explains Pascal Dumoret, Nexter’s operational adviser, adding that “coordination between ground and air forces is becoming more complex and systematic.”

 

Entirely self-funded since 2015, the development of FINDMP® is being closely watched by the French Army. The aim is to develop “a tool to help with decision making which is totally compatible with the Scorpion doctrine”, according to Dumoret. Next month FINDMP® will undergo operational evaluation by the 3rd Marine Infantry Regiment (RIMa) on a joint tactical group command post prior to an improved version being integrated into a Scorpion manoeuvre in November at the military schools of Saumur.

 

... FINDMP, l'outil de planification 2.0 (Crédit photo: Nathan Gain)

… FINDMP, l’outil de planification 2.0 (Crédit photo: Nathan Gain)

 

A FINDMP® system is composed of a touch table – Digital Sand Box or DSB – and autonomous tablets – Tactical Analysis Stations or TAS – that are detached clones of the DSB deployable within a joint tactical sub-group and interoperable with the DSB. The system requires little logistical effort to set up: transportable in three 25kg cases, two men can put it up in less than 10 minutes. The batteries under the table allow the system to run for 90 minutes.

 

La planification peut également être suivie à distance au moyen de tablettes tactiles (Crédit photo: Nathan Gain)

Planification can be followed at a distance thanks to the touch tablets (photo credit: Nathan Gain)

Its main functions basically serve to analyse the terrain thanks to maps that can be endlessly multiplied and superimposed. The prototype  uses standard military maps. According to the ground analysis required, it offers a satellite map, a classic map, thematic maps (showing fields, forests, etc.) and topographic maps (contour lines), etc. The number of functionalities offered by the Nexter Solutions Globales et Numériques team are impressive so we will simply describe a few. Apart from the editor of NATO-standard tactical symbols, FINDMP® includes a tool to calculate itineraries. By fusing the technical data concerning the mobility and off-road capabilities of a vehicle registered in the system and the characteristics of the terrain (type of soil, slopes etc.), FINDMP® will calculate the ideal itinerary between two points and indicate the journey time. And there is no need to then use a computer to send out the mission orders: FINDMP® integrates a tool enabling commanders to write directly on the tactile table and/or tablet. FINDMP® is interoperable with the operational information systems of Nexter’s FINDERS C2® which enables an order to be transmitted as soon as it is ready towards the units on the battlefield.