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USSOCOM to Develop Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit

On 15 May, at the start of the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference, U.S. Special Operations Command, Headquarters Procurement Division issued Solicitation Number USSOCOM_RFI_ST(TALOS), a special notice seeking industry collaboration with their Science & Technology community for the development of a Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS).

The request is pretty straightforward but the path to get to a fielded product remains murky, particularly as defense procurement budgets have been slashed. Many in industry are rather shy about sharing cutting edge technologies with government in the absence of a value exchange. However, this might make for a great dual-path strategy for companies that developed concepts for Big Army’s SPS and are looking for a return.

Before I go any further, this sounds fantastic and this is the stuff that SSD exists for, but two observations. First, this sure looks, sounds and smells like it should be a BAA. And, once again, I have to ask, why wasn’t this project begun at any point over the past 11 years of war? At any rate, here’s what SOCOM has in mind.

A. INTRODUCTION: Science and Technology (S&T) Collaboration
This Request for Information (RFI) is NOT a Broad Agency Announcement, solicitation for proposals, proposal abstracts, or quotations. The purpose of this RFI is to solicit technology demonstration candidates from Research and Development (R&D) organizations, private industry, and academia for inclusion in future experimentation events coordinated by the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). USSOCOM invites industry, academia, individuals and Government labs to submit technology demonstration nominations addressing innovative technologies leading to possible Government/Industry collaboration for development of USSOCOM technology capabilities supporting a Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS). The intent is to accelerate the delivery of innovative TALOS capabilities to the Special Operations Forces (SOF) warfighter.

After review of the technology demonstration nomination submissions, the Government may invite select candidates to demonstrate their technologies at the USSOCOM sponsored S&T demonstration event. The demonstration venue will provide an opportunity for the submitter to interact with USSOCOM personnel for the purpose of USSOCOM assessing potential impact of emerging technology solutions on USSOCOM missions and capabilities. The intent is to accelerate the delivery of innovative capabilities to the SOF warfighter. Industry participation in demonstration activities does not suggest or imply that USSOCOM will procure or purchase equipment.

B. OBJECTIVE:
1. Background: These collaborative S&T demonstrations are conducted with representatives from Government R&D organizations, Academia, and Industry. S&T demonstration events provide an opportunity for technology developers to interact with operational forces and Government development personnel to determine how their technology development efforts and ideas may support or enhance SOF capability needs. The environment facilitates a collaborative working relationship between interested parties to promote the identification and assessment of emerging and mature technologies for the primary goal of accelerating the delivery of technology discoveries to the SOF warfighter. The event facilitates USSOCOM personnel to identify potential technology solutions, impacts, limitations, and utility to meet SOF technical objectives and thrust areas. Materiel solutions brought to the event should be at a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 5 or greater. Demonstrations may be between an hour and half a day in duration and may be conducted in unimproved expeditionary-like conditions. At the discretion of USSOCOM, respondents may be asked to complete a vendor loan agreement (see attachment).

2. Demonstration Focus: Demonstrations will be conducted from 8-10 July 2013, at or near MacDill AFB, FL and will explore emerging TALOS technology solutions for the advance enhanced mobility/protection capabilities to augment the direct assaulter. The goal of these demonstrations is to identify technologies which could easily be integrated to form an initial capability within twelve months. A secondary goal is to determine the feasibility of fielding objective capabilities within three years. Any TALOS technology-based demonstration conducted at the event shall be capable of supporting a SOF unit to provide a revolutionary improvement in SOF operations. Any and all TALOS solutions must include all necessary software and hardware to accomplish the mission. Direct Assaulter enhanced mobility/protective technologies may include, but are not limited to:

a. Advanced Armor: Materials to support next generation full-body ballistic protection
b. Mobility/Agility: Enhancement platforms such as powered exoskeletons
c. Situational Awareness (SA)
d. Light/noise discipline
e. Command, Control, Communications & Computers (C4): Such as conformable & wearable antennae and wearable computers
f. Individual soldier combat ready displays: Including non-visual means of information display, and potentially utilization of cognitive thoughts and the surrounding environment to display personalized information
g. Power generation and management
h. Thermal management of suit occupant
i. Medical: Embedded monitoring, oxygen systems, wound stasis, electromechanical compensation

Proposed solutions should take into consideration “lightening the load” of the operator, mentally and/or physically.

3. Security Requirements: Vendors should not submit classified information in the technology demonstration nominations.

4. Respondents interested in conducting demonstrations using technologies like: lasers, explosives, weapons using live fire, moving equipment, vehicles, and other technologies that present an occupational hazard shall prepare and submit a safety risk assessment. The risk assessment shall address the likelihood and severity of any inherent risks as well as risk mitigation measures required to bring the resultant risk to a low level. The risk assessment shall be submitted as an attachment to the experiment nomination. Reference MIL-STD-882D for instructions and information regarding risk assessments.

YADDA, YADDA, YADDA

Technology Demonstration nominations shall be submitted electronically via SORDAC’s BAA and RFI Submission Tool at http://www.socom.mil/sordac/Pages/BAAHome.aspx (like I said, sounds like a BAA to me)

YADDA, YADDA, YADDA

You’ll be responsible for your own expenses if you’re invited to participate. (I’m paraphrasing here.)

YADDA, YADDA, YADDA

D. BASIS FOR SELECTION TO PARTICIPATE:
Selection of respondents to participate will be based on the extent to which the technology represents a particular class or level of capability that can be provided to SOF.
Other considerations include:
– Technical maturity
– Relevance of or adaptability to military operations/missions
– Relevance to current operational needs
– Relevance to Event Focus Area

And then, there’s a bunch of other stuff you need to read if you are going to participate.

You’ve only got a short time to get your nomination (Response Date:
May 31, 2013 4:00 pm Eastern) in so drop what you’re doing, right now, and go read the whole thing at www.fbo.gov

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11 Responses to “USSOCOM to Develop Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit”

  1. Scott says:

    Somebody finally got around to seeing Iron Man 3.

  2. Carlos says:

    Future Force Warrior Part Deux?

  3. Brandon says:

    I like the way SOCOM does contracting. Lots of Yadda, yadda, yadda in there. Its the new way of taking out the legal back and forth on the interpretation of contract wording. 😀

  4. Brandon says:

    Really, why cant they assign some of the JSOC folks (who probably have already done so) to continuously find the lightest weight armor plates and lids, carriers and rucks, pouches, weapon accessories that perform well, and comm systems and accessories that integrate numerous voice, text, GPS mapping and tracking.

    We already know that some JSOC guys use IPads for numerous comms purposes including viewing video feeds from UAVs. The rifleman radio has been tested and approved by Rangers and links up with droid based ruggedized devices. We all know of the numerous high speed headsets in use already by SOCOM units. I think they simply need to have guys looking for the current state of the art with a focus on testing the lightest weight and most practical things and incorporating them every few months. They would stay up to date but not have to change a lot because there is not a lot major armor and plate carrier changes that would meet their weight requirements in a few months time. Then training on equipment would be minimal as pouches, plates, and lids, do not require and extreme amount of training. Half of their work is done if they come to SSD or Kit Up on a regular basis.

    The big road black is all of the people who will scream contracts and bids until they get some kind of legal challenge going.

    Crye has had numerous fancy full body armor options for a while the weight is a still a hefty burden.

    • matty says:

      They do that on Navy side at least. The N8 dudes are constantly testing shit and then WARCOM keeps pushing new plates and carriers and bags and all that nonsense.

    • charlie says:

      This isn’t about products that can be immediately used, or even used within the next five years. This is the military saying “show us what crazy sci-fi ideas you have and if they MIGHT work.”

  5. Matt says:

    MOBILE INFANTRY!!!!

  6. bulldog76 says:

    *guy who thought of the list* i was playing halo and the thought occured me we need power armor and some other cool new toys

  7. Stefan S says:

    Good Idea Fairy: Too much Halo!

  8. mike says:

    I think we need to be looking at Warhammer 40K and Starcraft for ideas about individual power armor.

    “For the Emperor!” and “Keep your shirt on, Sparky” respectively.