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Soldier Systems

UPDATE: Shot Detection for the Individual

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

Individual-Gunshot-Detectio

UPDATED UPDATE: Courtesy of our good friends at Soldier Systems, it looks as if PEO has indeed fielded 1100 individual shot detection systems — but not the BBN one.

Oddly enough, despite funding the development of Boomerang Warrior, the Army seems to be much keener on the QinetiQ North America’s Soldier Wearable Acoustic Targeting System (SWATS). In fact, photos of the IGD system on PEO-Soldier’s website feature a Soldier wearing SWATS. Army G3 directed PEO-Soldier to execute a field evaluation of an Individual Gunfire Detection system and the system chosen was the SWATS. The Capabilities Production Document (CPD) is still in draft and any use at this point should be considered an operational demonstration to ascertain the validity of the technology and to consider Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures development. Based on candidate technical maturity, Product Manager Soldier Sensors and Lasers deployed 12 Soldier SWATS to theater in 2007 for the first user evaluation. This evaluation prompted several changes to the design and functionality. In 2008, 1100 improved SWATS were sent to theater for a second user evaluation. The information gathered during these evaluations is being used in the development of the IGD CPD.

END UPDATE

PEO Soldier is developing a nifty little device that gives individual Soldiers the ability to pinpoint the source of incoming rifle fire.

The so-called Individual Gunshot Detection system clips onto a Soldier’s body armor and uses sensors to hear the “crack-bang” of a shot, then processes the data in miliseconds to indicate the cardinal direction of the fire’s source and approximate distance.

The single sensor system (SWATS, Boomerang Warrior) reports this solution directly to the individual Soldier on a visual display and audio alert within a second of a muzzle blast. The technology is able to detect and provide alert data for variants of both 5.56mm and 7.62mm sized ammo. The system is powered by two DL 123 batteries.

I’m still working on details about how many are to be fielded, to whom and what the cost is, but I will say that I had the opportunity a couple years ago to see a demo of a bunch of these devices in development for vehicles. The one being developed for PEO is manufactured by BBN Technologies of Boston — they’re the ones who make the Boomerang vehicle-mounted system which I found was the simplest system to operate and the most “Soldier Proof” of the others, some of which delivered much more refined information.

Incoming shot announcements are transmitted to an ear piece while a light-weight wrist display provides range, azimuth and elevation coordinates of the shooter position. As the Soldier moves, the system compensates for the Soldier’s motion and continually updates the threat’s location on the wrist display. A digital interface is also included to enable immediate transmittal of shot coordinates to other situational displays.

This system seems like a good idea for Afghanistan, given the terrain and cover afforded ambushing insurgents. Put a couple guys in a squad at strategic positions with these things and you could zero in on the bad guys in no time.

This might also be something that Land Warrior might want to look at…

UPDATE: Our friends over at Soldier Systems tell us that PEO sent only one of the IGD systems from BBN to theater and that despite paying for the development of the Boomerang Warrior “PEO is going in a different direction.”

Still no word from PEO Soldier on this…

– Christian

Revealed: The Army’s New Camo

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

UCP-delta.jpg

Our friends at Soldier Systems have been tracking the development of a new camo scheme designed for the Afghan fight by Army officials who were mandated by congress to do so after hearing complaints from the field.

Their reporting shows that the service has basically tweaked the pixel pattern a bit, added some coyote brown to the mix and satisfied the Gucci camo cadre with a bit of Multi-cam-esque curvature sprinkled in.

I admire the Army’s attempt here, but I think most wearers will be skeptical — at first blush it’s damned ugly. And as I’ve always said: An ounce of image is worth a pound of performance.

But clearly the UCP pattern needs revamping and the idea of multiple uniforms for different environments may need to be re-reconsidered. I’m sure our friends at Soldier Systems will keep a close eye on the field tests and we’ll bring you their results as soon as we can.

Natick has been busy developing several new variants of UCP which retain the base pattern but replace individual colors. Word has it that some of them are down right ugly. It has recently been revealed by Brig. Gen. Peter Fuller, PEO-Soldier that the new UCP-Delta which integrates Coyote Brown into the pattern along with Multicam will be evaluated in Afghanistan beginning in October. In response to the Congressional directive to field a new camo pattern for operations in Afghanistan two Battalions worth of uniforms will be tested.

– Christian

Up Periscope! — BAM You’re Dead

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

trench-periscope.jpg

Sometimes the more things change, the more they stay the same.

I ran across a perfect example of that over at Soldier Systems blog which features a neat little post on an updated version of the trench periscope.

With all these walled compounds and impromtu urban sniper postions, the US Tactical Supply Scout Sniper Periscope Kit is a back to the future update of the Dough Boy sharpshooter’s best friend.

U.S. Tactical Supply offers the Scout Sniper Periscope Kit (NSN 1240–01-571‑5004). The kit is comprised of am anodized aluminum tripod mount handle with 1/4 20 threads, Desert Camo SwatScope 3M Camoclad Wrap Kit, aluminum hard case, belt hook, AN/PVS-14 Adapter, flashlight attachment, and a soft sling case. Its everything you need to put the periscope immediately into action and can be used for a variety of observation applications in addition to use by a Sniper section.

Sometimes it’s not about UAVs, thermal imagers and ground bots…sometimes it’s just a simple matter of refraction, defraction and a sneak peek above the roof line to zero in on the bad guys.

Maybe US tactical has an adaptor kit to attach the periscope to a M110 or M40 rifle…?

(Gouge: SS)

– Christian

Just Keep it Jiggling and the iPod will Play

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

Our friends from Soldier Systems have a great post this week on a gadget designed to generate power through kinetic energy.

We’re used to hearing one of the military’s biggest complaints: “we love all the gizmos, it’s just that we hate the short battery life.”

Well, this could be the answer for Joes on the move.

Be sure to read more Soldier Systems content. We’re proud to be partnered with what we believe is the Internet’s best tactical gear news site.

Developed by Tremont Electric based in Cleveland, Ohio the nPower Personal Energy Generator (PEG) is very lightweight, ultra rugged, and completely silent. The PEG weighs a mere nine ounces packed into a nine inch long cylinder that harvests kinetic energy from the human stride and turns it into 2.5 watts of electricity.

Personal Energy Generator

The commercial technology has been adapted for military use and undergone limited evaluations by the Army, Marines and a Joint customer. There are currently two militarized versions of the device and they’re developing some additional versions for specialized use. The first version powers a handheld device (ie, a Garmin GPS, iPod, etc) and the other is a backpack-mounted version that can power a Toughbook, a radio, or other tech a warfighter may have. Both of these devices can, in theory, provide power indefinitely, as long as youre moving. Current systems are crafted from Anodized Aluminum but plans are afoot to transition to Carbon Fiber in order to shave weight.

The military handheld device comes in two sizes. The first is nine inches long, nine ounces, and power output at 5 watts and the second is six inches long, weighs seven ounces, and power output at 2.5 watts. It can be mounted to PALS webbing.

Additionally, they have demonstrated a larger backpack mounted laptop device. It is envisioned to be comprised of two larger units running in parallel inside of a dedicated backpack. To work successfully it demands more mass so a minimum load of 30 lbs is required. While it is heavier, it will produce up to 100 watts.

The PEG offers a couple of operational advantages not realized with many other technologies. It is temperature independent so it will work in arctic and desert environments with no modification. Additionally, it has no thermal signature like fuel cells, which means it cannot be detected in the Infrared spectrum.

Tremont Electric was recognized by Business Week as one of America’s most promising start ups.

Visit Tremont Electric for more info. Tremont Electric is represented by Technical Applications Group.

– Soldier Systems

Army May Be Testing New Camo in The ‘Stan

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

Our good friend at Soldier Systems has excellent sourcing in the tactical equipment industry and has been following the development of Army camo patterns very closely.

He offered up this piece from his Soldier Systems blog and I invite you to read more of his comprehensive coverage of the simmering camo pattern debate HERE.

In light of an impending directive from Congress to the Army to get their camo house in order, rumors continue to circulate about an upcoming test involving four camo patterns with the Army’s current Universal Camouflage pattern serving as a control.

The four patterns are MARPAT-Woodland, MARPAT-Desert, Multicam, and Desert All Over Brush (seen below). Originally, we had heard that the fourth pattern would be the 3-color Desert pattern issued to all services prior to adoption of their new distinctive uniforms. However, based on some recent, unverified information we believe it is actually the Desert All Over Brush which interestingly gave a very good showing during the Army camo trials of 2003–2004. According to a Natick report, a modified variant of the Desert version All Over Bush pattern performed best in all environments. You can also access a briefing presented on the subject at the 2004 International Soldier Systems Conference here.

Rumored Trials Patterns

Based on a series of evaluations documented in the report and briefing slides Natick developed the variant of All Over Brush pattern.

desert brush variant 3

Having said all of that, the info on that particular pattern is old news. At some point in the Spring of 2004, the Army took a serious sidestep from all of its research and adopted UCP. If the rumors are true, looking at what is on the table, neither Marine patterns would really be considered serious candidates due to a variety of morale, and as we have discussed before, branding issues. You think the black beret issue was rough, imagine the outcry from two services if the Army adopted a Marine camo pattern. Consequently, while effective, we don’t consider the MARPAT variants as serious contenders. This leaves, depending on who is telling the story, either 3-color Desert which is still used by some US Navy forces (and a few others) or the prototype Desert All Over brush pattern in addition to Crye’s Multicam. While there are limited stocks of 3-color equipment still in the system, virtually none of it is in the configuration currently used by US forces. If it were adopted, the US Soldier would literally take a five year step back in capability until production of current issue equipment could be accomplished. Additionally, there is a political dimension to such a move. UCP was sold as a superior pattern to both Woodland and 3-Color Desert. Someone would naturally ask the question of why the Army discarded a pattern in favor of something less effective.

Multicam in Afghanistan

This leaves Desert All Over Brush and Multicam. Multicam has been used operationally by select US forces to great success and even more importantly, is currently supported by the US industrial base. A wide variety of Berry Compliant products (and raw materials) are available as COTS items. Additionally, industry already offers versions of current issue equipment in Multicam. Furthermore, there are numerous lightweight and multi-purpose Soldier Systems items designed specifically for environments like Afghanistan. Multicam is a mature, widely available, low hanging fruit. On the other hand, adoption of Desert All Over Brush would require long lead times as fabric mills first perfect and then produce sufficient quantities of materials. Only then could uniforms and equipment for our Soldiers begin to be procured.

We are waiting with bated breath to see if these rumors are true and what’s more, if they are, what will come of them.

– Soldier Systems

High Speed Gear in The ‘Stan (the list)

Friday, July 31st, 2009

AWG-logo.jpg

Our friend from Soldier Systems dropped me a line to give us a head’s up on his latest post on the Asymmetric Warfare Group’s equipping initiative to select troops in Afghanistan. He asked that we cross post it here for our readers to review.

Basically, the way I understand it, the AWG has been looking at off-the-shelf items primarily from the mountaineering and custom tactical community to lighten the load of the average Joe in combat environments like Afghanistan. Everything from boots to buckles, the AWG’s list is impressive.

My colleague Matt Cox at Army Times has written about some of this, but I’m not sure he had the space to include all of the items…but in this Internet age, we can.

There have been numerous questions floating about the equipment chosen for the Armys Asymmetric Warfare Group fielding of a battalions worth of lightweight COTS equipment to the 4th ID for their current deployment to Afghanistan. In an effort to dispel any rumors, we got a list of the equipment issued but have removed sensitive materials including any references to armor.

Smartwool
Mens Sport NTS Crew T-Shirt
Mens Sport NTS Bottom
Mens Microweight NTS Crew Long Sleeved T-Shirt
Mens Microweight NTS Long Underwear Drawers
Mens Microweight NTS Tee
Mens Microweight Boxer
Socks PhD Outdoor Light Crew
Socks PhD Outdoor Medium Crew

Arcteryx
Knee Caps (Green/Grey)

Merrell
Mens Chameleon EVO Mid Gore Tex
Womens Chameleon ARC Mid Gore Tex

Asolo
Mens Fugitive GTX
Womens Stynger GTX

Suunto
M-3 DL Handheld Compass
Wrist Watch GPS X10

Garmin
ETREX Vista HCX

Petzl
Headlamp TACTIKKA XP

Surefire
Weapon Light M600C (kit)

Magpul
Magazine (PMAG)

Aimpoint
Optic Micro T1 w/ Larue mount

Mountain Hardwear
Phantom 45 Sleeping bag

Nemo

GoGo Shelter, Olive Drab

Mystery Ranch
3 Day Assault Packs w/ Bolsters

Read the rest of the list HERE…

– Soldier Systems

Army to Field Experimental Soldier Systems Equipment

Friday, May 1st, 2009

Wearing their Rapid Equipping Force hat, The Armys Asymmetric Warfare Group set about to assemble a package of Commercial Off the Shelf Soldier Systems equipment to conduct a demonstration with members of the 4th Infantry Division deploying to Afghanistan. The aim was to demonstrate that these alternative technologies will enhance the combat effectiveness of our troops fighting in the brutal terrain of Afghanistan.

Unfortunately, a long brewing battle between the Armys Acquisition community and the REF seemed to come to a head two weeks ago when the office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology halted the shipment of the equipment package into theater and began to ask some very pointed questions about the capability of the armor package chosen. Long-term friction has come about as the REF continues to conduct rapid identification, assessment, and fielding of critical warfighting technologies while the traditional acquisition system takes a much more methodical approach and fielding of new systems requires longer lead times.

The system in question is the MBAV cutaway plate carrier produced by Eagle Industries used in conjunction with a hard plate only certified for use by USSOCOM. All of this is fully in the Armys purview and unknown to most sitting on the sidelines of this issue, PEO-Soldier is in the midst of an evaluation of five cut away armor plate carriers. It is highly probable that the cutaway system chosen by AWG is also a candidate in this PEO-Soldier evaluation.

The situation seemed to take on a life of its own and after two weeks of consideration the Army has chosen to field the experimental package and it will be shipped for use by 480 Soldiers across two battalions of the deploying 4th ID. According to Army sources, short notice testing was completed to provide a safety release of the equipment. However, the new lightweight hard armor plates used by SOCOM will be replaced by the Armys current issue plates.

Data collection will be accomplished by Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab.

– Soldier Systems

More Trinkets From SHOT

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

down-east.jpg

Down East are the geniuses behind such products as the FastMag, Snap Dragon buckle, and MOLLE Frame.

Amid little fanfare they unveiled their latest incarnation of the FastMag at SHOT Show. As the prototype FastMag passed from hand to hand among gear aficionados, the inventors explained the evolutionary improvements over previous versions. The greatest improvement is the attachment mechanism. A thin, rubberized, PALS compatible strap has been integrated directly into the design and pulls over a tab to secure the pouch via tension.

Additionally, they introduced the ability to shingle the FastMag with Tactical Tailors MALICE Clip. The pouches can be stacked on top of one another or in conjunction with soft pouches as seen below. Additionally, you will notice that the bungee is missing. Down East felt that it was superfluous and drove up cost. Instead they engineered holes into the design so that the user could integrate a bungee if they felt the need.
down-east-pack.jpg

The new design is still in the prototype phase but if past performance is any indicator, these should begin to be available soon.

To announce their new Direct Sales program, Down East also showed a version of their rucksack. In order to test their latest frame (DEI 1606) and suspension (in this case made by Eagle), Down East commissioned Log House Designs to manufacture a 2400 in2 pack. They are pleased to now offer limited numbers of these for sale in UCP and Multicam (available Late Jan 09) as well as civilian Black and Navy Blue.

The pack is a simple top loader with ample PALS webbing to attach accessories and features a comfortable suspension.

– Soldier Systems

SOCOM Pack Program Winners

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

granite-gear.jpg

While there still is no official announcement, Granite Gear and their partner Montgomery Marketing Inc have announced that they have captured at least some of the SOCOM Pack program. Two packs were out for competition and they have won the Patrol Pack category with their 2400 cubic inch Raid pack and they will begin manufacturing within 60 days.

Mystery Ranch, long thought to be the leader in the large Recce Ruck category has won and will be offering a custom design based on their internal frame technology.

Congratulations to both Granite Tactical and Mystery Ranch!

The Granite Tactical Gear line is currently available from Extreme Outfitters. Mystery Ranch information can be accessed here.

Picture from Extreme Outfitters.

– Soldier Systems

USMC ILBE Detachable Platform Chest Rig

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

usmc-mag-pouches.jpg

The Marine Corps is working on a specialized detachable chest rig for armor vehicle crewmen to be used as a quick-attach/detach capability for ILBE pouches.

The Detachable Platform Chest Rig will integrate with the Modular Tactical Vest (MTV) or recently fielded Scalable Plate Carrier (SPC). Vehicle space constraints make it difficult for mounted crewmen to perform their mission while wearing pouches attached to their armor carrier. They require a slick chest area but once they exit the vehicle need a means to rapidly integrate ammunition and other critical equipment to their armor.

As envisioned, the chest rig is a two piece design consisting of a vest foundation piece and removable pouch attachment system. The vest foundation piece will be affixed to the MTV/ SPC and serve as the base for the pouch attachment piece. The pouch attachment piece will hold the required pouches and be stored in the vehicle during normal vehicle operations. The pouch attachment piece will essentially snap into place once the crewman dismounts.

Planned fielding is currently just over 6000 systems but if the rig shows utility expect to see it adopted by other service components.

– Soldier Systems