High-tech spear in the war
on terrorism

Tuesday, July 1, 2003

Xybernaut Corporation is the world’s leader in wearable computers, but the war on terrorism has lent a sense of urgency to the company's operations.

The Virginia-based firm has been creating IT solutions for twenty years, and for much of that time they have been providing the US Department of Defense (DOD) and intelligence services with everything from basic computer and networking services to cutting-edge technology used by special operators in the field during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Xybernaut’s primary wearable computer is the MA-V. Its military/law enforcement variant is known as the TAC-V. These are fully-functional Wintel computers that can do everything a desktop Dell, HP or Gateway can do. But the TAC-V is lightweight, rugged and can be operated “hands-free.”

Xybernaut understands that its systems must make America’s warfighters more effective, which means that they must be able to use the TAC-V while they are using both hands to fix a helicopter or eliminate “bad guys.”

Of course, unlike a Dell, HP or Gateway, the TAC-V must perform reliably outdoors in the desert heat of southern Iraq, the snow-covered mountains of Afghanistan, and the wet jungles of the Philippines.

The TAC-V must be, and is, compatible with all sorts of peripherals. Perhaps most crucial for military applications, is its full compatibility with all of the DOD’s open-ended communications systems, be they radio, satellite, or cellular. Those communications devices are just a few of the specialized peripherals in DOD use. The TAC-V is fully compatible with all modern sensing devices, such as those that detect chemical and biological agents and laser range finders and target designators, as well as face and fingerprint recognition devices.

User friendly

In addition to its light weight and rugged reliability, the TAC-V must meet another important DOD requirement: user friendliness. Xybernaut recognizes that the TAC-V is a support device that helps America’s warriors do their jobs more effectively, and it cannot be the sole focus of their training. Moreover, the DOD experiences a high rate of turnover as personnel leave the service. All of this was factored in to the TAC-V from the start.

Much more than a PDA

As previously stated, the TAC-V is an actual Wintel computer. It contains a hard drive to store data (important when the operational environment does not allow for communications transmission). Unlike PDAs and other hand-held devices, the TAC-V has a Central Processing Unit (CPU) to process information. And did we forget the monitor? Each TAC-V has a 1-inch monitor that enables the user to read a full page of text in daylight conditions.

Used by all military services

The TAC-V is employed by all four branches of the military: Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines.

The computer was featured in 2002 in testing at the US Army’s McKenna Range at Fort Benning, Georgia with the Dismounted Battlespace Battle Lab. In an exercise that was covered by Fox News, the TAC-V was used to increase the situational awareness of a Ranger unit in a MOUT (Military Operations in Urbanized Terrain) environment. That problem involved an opposing force “terrorist” group holding hostages which the Rangers were tasked with rescuing.

During the first run-through, the Rangers managed to kill all the terrorists, but the hostages were killed as well.

Data about the environment and situation was then input into the TAC-V. Using the TAC-V prior to the rescue attempt, the Rangers were able to kill all the terrorists and rescue all the hostages.

The Army also uses the TAC-V for maintenance support for the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter and the new, super high-tech RAH-66 Comanche helicopter.

The TAC-V is certified for use on all US Navy ships. It is used on the Navy’s aircraft carriers in aviation maintenance and it is also integral in the maintenance of the Tomahawk cruise missile, which was used heavily in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The Air Force employs the TAC-V at Tinker Air Force Base in the maintenance of the B-1B Lancer bomber, the aircraft that delivered the payload that many believe killed Saddam Hussein and/or members of his inner circle.

The Marine Corps employs the TAC-V for maintenance of the AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter gunship.

Interestingly, the TAC-V is fully compatible with the body armor that has proven crucial to saving lives, as well as the NBC protective suits (sometimes referred to as MOPP suits) that enable our servicemen and women to survive and operate despite the presence of radiation, and chemical or biological agents. In fact, Xybernaut owns a US patent on wearable computers integrated with body armor and NBC suits.

Truly, Xybernaut’s TAC-V computer is playing a vital role in today’s war on terrorism as a behind-the-scenes, high-tech tip of the spear.

See also: After Littleton: High tech firm helps 'first responders'

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