The United States’ Land Warrior program is relatively well-known, having been the inspiration for videogames such as Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter due to the intent of combining high-tech equipment with soldiers actually in combat. However, the US was hardly the only country working on such a program, as multiple other NATO and non-NATO countries are developing similar programs. One of these originates from one of the largest NATO members in Europe, the Federal Republic of Germany, and is known as the IdZ program, or the Infanterist der Zukunft, which means “Infantryman of the Future.”
Like its other counterparts, the IdZ program is being developed for the Bundeswehr, or the Federal Defense (The German military) and will give soldiers protection against multiple threats, such as chemical weapons, biological weapons, and smaller-calibers of ammunition. As well as protection, soldiers will have access to a communications system called “Interconnected Command Control Communications Computer Unit,” or IC4U, which will link each soldier to the command & information system of the German Army, showing them their position on the battlefield, where their allies are, etc. The IdZ program even utilizes miniature UAV’s, such as the Aladin drone to help relay data to soldiers in the field and can be used for vehicles too such as the Boxer armored vehicle.
In terms of weaponry, it integrates the G36 assault rifle used by the Bundeswehr, mounting a laser-system to the weapon, and a 40mm AG36 grenade launcher to increase effectiveness. It also utilizes the MP7 personal defense weapon, which is small enough to be carried like a handgun but possesses the ability to shoot through Kevlar-level body armor, a factor not many other similar weapons can boast. To deal with enemy armored vehicles or bunkers, there is the Panzerfaust-3 anti-tank rocket launcher and for close-range there is the KM2000 combat knife, which possesses an unusual straight-blade design and can be used by both left-handed and right-handed soldiers.
So far, the IdZ program has been provided to German soldiers serving with ISAF in Afghanistan, and with KFOR in Kosovo. The current variant of IdZ being developed is called IdZ-ES, which stands for “Expanded System,” and is being developed by EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company) Defense Electronics and Rheinmetall, a company known for other weapons systems such as the cannon on the Leopard 2 tank. It is hoped eventually the IdZ program may be used by other branches of the Bundeswehr, such as the Heer (The army), the Luftwaffe (The air force), and the Deutsche Marine (The German navy).
While the US Land Warrior was cancelled then resurrected in 2008 despite the majority of the technology not being ready for use, the IdZ program has fared much better and at this pace looks as if it may soon be utilized by the entire German Bundeswehr for hotspots such as Afghanistan and other future NATO operations.