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Archive for the ‘PEO-Soldier’ Category

PEO Soldier Talks About The Advanced Combat Helmet Gen II

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

PEO Soldier held a press conference earlier today regarding the Advanced Combat Helmet Gen II fielding. Officiating the event was LTC Kathy Brown, PM Soldier Protective Equipment. She was assisted by APM, MAJ Brandon Motte.


From World War II until the 1980s, the US military relied on a stamped steel helmet with liner, commonly referred to as the “Steel Pot”.


It was replaced by the Personal Armor System, Ground Troops or PASGT. Its nickname was the ‘Kevlar’ after the material it was made from.


In the late 1990s, USSOCOM began to take advantage of new para-Aramid materials and embarked on a program called the Modular Integrated Communications Helmet. The helmet’s design was modified slightly to a more streamlined shell than the bulky PASGT and it was quickly adopted by the US Army as the Advanced Combat Helmet, in the early 2000s as active combat in the Middle East stepped up.

Right up front, LTC Brown told us that this is the greatest weight reduction we’ve ever seen in headborne protection. She went on to say , “I’m very proud of the work we’ve done here. Our soldiers and civilians are highly technically skilled.”

For both Large and XLarge the reduction is 24% over the legacy ACH, while for Medium and Small helmets, it is 21%. The average is 22%. For example, the XLarge legacy ACH is 3.88 lbs while the ACH Gen II in XL is 2.94 lbs, or a 24% weight reduction.

The goal of the upgrade program was to offer weight reduction with equal protection of the legacy helmet. They’ve definitely accomplished that mission.

Chief engineer Jacob Hopping said, “Reductions in weight mean more alert Soldiers.” The Legacy helmet is Kevlar, while the new ACH II is polyethylene which accounts for the weight reduction.

Along the way of fielding helmets, the US Army worked on a program with the US Marine Corps called Enhanced Combat Helmet which uses High Density Polyethylene to defeat rifle caliber threats. It’s currently used in high threat environments like Iraq, and is available via Rapid Fielding Initiative.

Additionally, the Army has access to ballistic appliqués which attach to the top of a helmet and offer full rifle caliber threat protection. Once again, these are only used in high threat environments.

The Advanced Combat Helmet Generation II looks almost identical to the ACH Soldiers have been wearing for 15 years, but it weighs 9 ounces to almost a pound less than the legacy helmet. The new helmet is made from ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene, a lighter material than Kevlar, but reportedly just as strong. (Photo Credit: Ron Lee, PEO Soldier)

The ACH Gen II is going to look very similar to your legacy ACH, just lighter. While the helmet will be issued in Tan 499/Coyote 498, rather than the Grey looking Foliage Green, there will continue to be a helmet cover and, when used, the ballistic appliqué can be hydrodipped in colors or camouflage patterns as needed.

Since Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support is handling this contract, the other services will also be able to requisition this helmet for their use via NSN. While the Army still hasn’t worked out a strict timetable on fielding of the ACH Gen II, it will be a one-for-one replacement of the legacy helmet and offer a full refresh of the Army’s head protection for both combat and training.

Jacob Hopping mentioned that, “In a few years, working with material developers and manufacturers, we’ll be able to maximize weight reduction and increase threat protection to optimize protection for the head.” While much work is being done with HDPE, he mentioned that perhaps the next Gen Kevlar may show even better protection.

LTC Brown said that this new capability is at the current limits of materials, but engineer Andy Meloni added that they’re not only only looking at materials, but new manufacturing processes are also under development. Andy Meloni supports the ACH II as a matrixed engineer from the Natick Research, Development and Engineering Center.

Ultimately, the Army is looking for a revolutionary leap in the performance-to-weight ratio of ballistic material but they see that as still a decade away. Until then, they’ll look at ways to integrate increased capability to current equipment.

Below is an article by the Army News Service which describe some this capability as well as some other armor technologies. (more…)

US Army Issues RFI For Cold Temperature and Arctic Protection System

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

The U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Command (NSRDEC), Natick, MA is conducting a market investigation to identify domestic suppliers and manufacturers of potential sources for materials, individual garment items and complete clothing systems for the development of a Cold Temperature and Arctic Protection System (CTAPS). This RFI will exclude handwear and footwear. The effort will develop a multi-layer system that will provide a minimum of no melt and no drip next-to-skin layers, environmental protection from wind and water, and provide tailorable protection for temperatures spanning a range from 45 Deg F to -65 Deg F in as few garments as possible.  Essentially, it’s a replacement for Extended Cold Weather Clothing System (ECWCS) Generation III which is an adaptation of USSOCOM’s Protective Combat Uniform.

Here are some slides from late last year describing CTAPS. You’ll also notice a reference to “Environmental Protection System,” an overarching program, of which CTAPS is but one component. For example, there will also be a hot/wet aka jungle component of EPS.

According to the RFI, new cold weather materials, end items, and systems should be light weight with better durability, provide high compressibility/good recovery for packing in the ruck, have improved moisture management, and be fast drying while maintaining insulation. The performance of the current seven layer (it’s actually levels not layers, but the RFI refers to them as layers) ECWCS Gen III is the baseline for characteristics and protection upon which materials, individual garments, and complete clothing systems will be compared. The individual garments or layers of the clothing system can be categorized into three areas: base layer (next-to-skin), insulating layer, and outer shell. While flame resistance is not a requirement at this time, materials and items that are flame resistant will be considered. It is also desired to expand no melt/no drip performance beyond the base layers without negatively impacting other performance attributes.

The Government will require 90 days after the 21 April 2017 submission date to make an initial assessment of the proposed technology(s) potential to fulfill CTAPS needs. The Government will integrate selected technologies and designs into test garments for field evaluation in winters 2018 and 2019 to establish operational effectiveness and Soldier acceptance. A test method matrix upon which materials and/or end item garments and systems will be evaluated is attached. Concurrently, NSRDEC will be seeking test methods to better predict operational effectiveness in the field. The Purchase Descriptions of the current ECWCS materials are available upon request. Interested sources may submit any combination of material samples (textiles), end item samples (garments), or complete system samples (ensembles) along with technical information as outlined in item (a) below. The samples will be degraded or destroyed during evaluation and will not be returned to the vendor. If a source chooses to submit samples, no payment will be made by the Government for such samples.

I’m glad to see the government going at the RFI in this fashion. This way they can take a look at best of breed in each category. Unfortunately, when full systems are evaluated against one another, costs are easier to anticipate and control but individual components may be wanting. Natick has been briefing this program since last Summer’s OR and while everyone in industry is excited, there has been some hesitation over the Army’s intent to own the IP for any solution it adopts. This may preclude some of the best solutions from being submitted.

For full details, visit www.fbo.gov.

US Army Showcases Soldier Protection System Gear

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

Last week, the Army News Service released this story about the equipment developed under the Soldier Protection System program.

During the development effort, this is a full size poster, PEO Soldier was using to demonstrate the SPS concept. It will give you a good idea of what we’re talkingaboit.

They’re working on new posters with the gear they selected during the development process. Here are some images from that photo shoot, from PM SCIE’s Facebook page.

Below, in the Army’s article, you’ll get a glimpse of the equipment they actually selected. They’re also featuring the Integrated Head Protection subsystem which took an extremely long time to downselect. Although they’re showing this particular helmet off, don’t forget, the Army just awarded a contract to Revision for the ACH II. Although it’s no slouch, lowering the weight of the helmet by 24% at the same ballistic performance of the ACH, it doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles of the SPS helmet.  You won’t be seeing this helmet anytime soon.  

This photo showing the SPS IHPs as well as the ACH is from the PM SCIE Facebook page.

In fact, delays are a common issue with this program. Much of this has to do with some questionable decisions. From its outset, SPS was on, then off, then on again. Once it was under way, requirements were altered by PEO Soldier after the Torso and Extremity Protection’s subsystem candidates were submitted by industry, lowering them in order to allow the government submission to win. Even then, the government’s winning system lacked the required female variant, which is allegedly still under development. There were other issues with the baseline system but its very production has been delayed due to contract protests. Worse yet, there have been acceptance test failures of its protective armor. Furthermore, production of the Ballistic Combat Shirt was delayed due to protests.

LTC Kathy Brown meets with Army News Service. (Photo from PM SCIE Facebook Page)

Like any organization, they have their triumphs and their failures, but PEO Soldier long ago stopped responding to my requests for information, after I published a series of articles critical of their mishandling of the camouflage and SPS efforts. Program Manager, Soldier Protective Equipment LTC Kathy Brown has met with several reporters regarding this system but they won’t answer the most important question…”why?” Why did they make those choices? Several vendors offered turnkey solutions. The Army has spent two years trying to get their government owned design on the street.

Don’t get me wrong. I want to see them succeed. I’m a former Soldier myself and this equipment is designed to protect the lives of Americans; that’s precisely why I want to see them get it right.

New Soldier armor weighs less, offers more options

WASHINGTON (Army News Service) — The average generation II improved outer tactical vest weighs about 26 pounds. But the new torso and extremity protection system or TEP, under development now at Program Executive Office Soldier, sheds about five pounds of weight and also adds a wide degree of scalability that commanders can make use of depending on threat level and mission.

The Torso and Extremity Protection System” or TEP, under development now at Program Executive Office Soldier, sheds about five pounds of weight from the IOTV, and also adds a wide degree of scalability that commanders can make use of depending on threat level and mission. (Photo Credit: C. Todd Lopez)

The TEP is part of the new Soldier Protection System under development now at PEO Soldier. The SPS includes both the TEP and the integrated head protection system.


The TEP can replace the IOTV, at less weight and greater scalability, depending on the mission. It includes the modular scalable vest, the ballistic combat shirt, the blast pelvic protection system, and a battle belt, which is aimed at getting weight off a Soldier’s shoulders and onto the hips.

With the TEP, commanders can require Soldiers to go with full protection — which provides the same level of protection as a fully-loaded IOTV — or go all the way down to wearing soft armor under their uniforms for missions that require less protection.

“It’s about giving commanders on the battlefield the ability to use the modularity capability of the equipment to fit their particular mission profile or protective posture level,” said Lt. Col. Kathy Brown, the product manager for Personal Protective Equipment at PEO Soldier, Fort Belvoir, Virginia.


The IOTV sometimes required Soldiers to wear the deltoid auxiliary protection — cumbersome parts that snapped on to the IOTV and protected their shoulders. Soldiers might have also been asked to wear the smaller, easily-lost collars that also snapped on to the IOTV. Both are gone with the TEP. They’ve been replaced by the ballistic combat shirt, which is a shirt with breathable fabric and which also includes those smaller ballistic protection parts built in. Soldiers would wear the BCS under the TEP’s modular scalable vest.

“We have tested it,” Brown said of the ballistic combat shirt. “Soldiers like it. There is 95 percent Soldier acceptability of it. What we are working on now is tweaking the sizes.”


The TEP also includes the blast pelvic protection system, which is designed to protect a Soldiers thighs and groin against ballistic threats and burns. The BPPS is meant to replace the current combination of the pelvic undergarment and the pelvic outer-garment, or “PUG” and “POG.” The PUG has sometimes been referred to as “ballistic underwear.”

Brown said the BPPS “provides the same level of protection” as the PUG and POG combined, including both burn and fragment protection. She said Soldiers have reported that it feels more like it is “part of the pants.”


The battle belt included with the TEP is part of a weight management system, but it also offers some protection as well.

“It’s designed to remove the weight from your shoulders and put it on your hips,” Brown said. Whereas Soldiers might strap a radio or other gear onto their IOTV in the past, the battle belt can now take that gear and move the weight onto a Soldier’s hips.

Brown said that after successful ballistic testing, production of the TEP will begin in probably May of this year, and that Soldiers could see it in 2018 or 2019.


Another part of the Soldier Protection System is the integrated head protection system, or IHPS. In its full configuration, it looks similar to a motorcycle helmet.

The IHPS consists of a base helmet, similar to the polyethylene enhanced combat helmet that some Soldiers are already wearing. The IHPS also includes add-ons for the base helmet, including a visor, a “mandible” portion that protects the lower jaw, and a “ballistic applique” that is much like a protective layer that attaches over the base helmet. The complete ensemble is known as the “high threat configuration.”

Brown said that eventually all deploying Soldiers will get the IHPS with the base helmet, which is the standard configuration. Other Soldiers, vehicle gunners in particular, will also get the mandible portion and the ballistic applique as well, known as the turret configuration.

The IHPS currently has a Picatinny rail mounted on the side for attaching gear, and will also provide for attaching head-mounted night vision goggles.


The visor portion on the IHPS provides ballistic protection to a Soldier’s face but doesn’t provide any protection against the sun. So Soldiers wearing it will need to wear darkened sunglasses underneath the visor if they are in bright environments.

Maj. Jaun F. Carleton, also with PEO Solider, had a pair of new sunglasses that are authorized for use by Soldiers if they want to buy them, or if their commanders buy them for them.

The sunglasses, which also come in a face mask version as well, start off as un-darkened — offering no protection against the sun. But with the press of a button, LCD modules that adhere to the lenses darken and provide protection against the sun. That happens in less than a second.

“The benefit is that using one pair of protective eyewear, you wouldn’t have to switch from a clear goggle to a dark goggle — you’d have one protective eyewear for all conditions,” Carleton said.

Brown said the goggles will be available for units to be able to requisition as part of the Soldier Protection System.

“If we are able to drive the price down, the Army could eventually make a decision to include that on the list of items that we carry for deploying Soldiers,” Brown said.


Brown said the IHPS will likely be available to deploying Soldiers sometime between 2020 and 2021.

As part of extensive human factors evaluations, Brown said that PEO Soldier has used Soldiers, extensively, to evaluate the new gear.

“We had a massive scale of Soldiers to evaluate the equipment, usually over a three-week to month-long timeframe, where they would perform their different mission sets, where they will execute basic rifle marksmanship, and ruck marches,” she said.

Afterward, she said, those same Soldiers were asked what they think of the gear through a qualitative evaluation methodology (Soldier survey).

“They would give us the good, the bad, the ugly,” Brown said. “It’s extremely important to get Soldiers’ input. First, Soldiers are brutally honest and they are going to tell you exactly how they feel about the equipment. Second, why buy equipment Soldiers won’t wear? And third, who’s better to give us the best answer about how the kit should be designed than the Soldier who will actually wear the equipment?”

US Army Unveils New Jungle Combat Boot

Monday, March 6th, 2017

The US Army is poised to issue a new Jungle Combat Boot based on an RFI to industry just five months ago in October. This is an impressive example of what can happen when the Army works with industry. Well done!

Let’s hope the manufacturers get these out there soon for private purchase by Soldiers not assigned to the 25th ID.

WASHINGTON (Army News Service) — The standard issue combat boot most Soldiers wear today, the one most commonly worn in Iraq and Afghanistan, is great for sandy dunes, hot dry weather, and asphalt. But it’s proven not so good in hot and wet environments. So the Army has developed a new jungle boot that some Soldiers will see this year.

Last September, Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark A. Milley directed the Army to come up with a plan to outfit two full brigade combat teams in Hawaii, part of the 25th Infantry Division there, with a jungle boot. The Army had already been testing commercial jungle boots at the time — with mixed results — but didn’t have a specialized jungle boot, so Program Executive Officer Soldier, headquartered at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, had to get a plan together to make it happen.

By October of last year, the Army had made a request to industry to find out what was possible, and by December, contracts were awarded to two boot manufacturers in the United States to build a little more than 36,700 jungle-ready combat boots — enough to outfit both full IBCTs in Hawaii.

“This is important to the Army, and important to Soldiers in a hot, high-humidity, high-moisture area,” said Lt. Col. John Bryan, product manager for Soldier Clothing and Individual Equipment, with PEO Soldier. “We are responding as quickly as we possibly can, with the best available, immediate capability, to get it on Soldiers’ feet quickly, and then refine and improve as we go.”


Right now, the new jungle boot the Army developed will be for Soldiers at the 25th ID in Hawaii — primarily because there are actually jungles in Hawaii that Soldiers there must contend with. The new boots look remarkably similar to the current boots Soldiers wear — they are the same color for instance. And the boots, which Bryan said are called the “Army Jungle Combat Boot” or “JCB” for short, sport a variety of features drawn from both the legacy M1966 Vietnam-era jungle boot and modern technology.

The M1966 Jungle Boot — which featured a green cotton fabric upper with a black leather toe that could be polished, had a solid rubber sole which Soldiers reportedly said had no shock-absorbing capability. The new boot uses a similar tread, or “outsole,” as the M1966 “Panama style” — to shed mud for instance and provide great traction, but the added midsole is what makes it more comfortable and shock absorbing, said Albert Adams, who works at the Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center.

The outsole of the new boot is connected to the leather upper via “direct attach,” Adams said. That’s a process where a kind of liquid foam is poured between the rubber outsole and leather boot upper. It’s “a lot like an injection molding process,” he said.

The foam layer between the rubber sole and the upper portion of the boot not only provides greater shock absorbing capability, but he said it also keeps out microbes in hot, wet environments that in the past have been shown to eat away at the glues that held older boots together. So the new boots won’t separate at the soles, he said. “It provides a high level of durability, and it also adds cushioning.”

Also part of the new boot is a textile layer that prevents foreign items from puncturing through the sole of the boot and hurting a Soldier’s foot, Adam’s said. The M1966 boot accomplished that with a steel plate. The new boot has a ballistic fabric-like layer instead.

Staff Sgt. Joshua Morse, an instructor at the Jungle Operations Training Center in Hawaii, said the puncture resistance is welcome. He said punji sticks, familiar to Vietnam War veterans, are still a problem for Soldiers, for instance.

“They use these punji pits for hunting purposes,” he said. “In Brunei, you are literally in the middle of nowhere in this jungle, and there are natives that live in that area, and still hunt in that area, and it can be an issue.” And in mangrove swamps, he said, “you can’t see anything. You don’t know what’s under your feet at all. There are a lot of sharp objects in there as well.”

The new JCB also features a heel with a lower height than the M1966 model, to prevent snags on things like vines in a jungle environment. That prevents tripping and twisted ankles. Among other things, the boot also has additional drainage holes to let water out if it becomes completely soaked, speed laces so that Soldiers can don and doff the boots more quickly, a redesigned upper to make the boots less tight when they are new, an insert that helps improve water drainage, and a lining that makes the boot breath better and dry faster than the old boot.

“You’re going to be stepping in mud up to your knees or higher, and going across rivers regularly,” Adams said. “So once the boot is soaked, we need it to be able to dry quickly as well.”


Morse has already been wearing and evaluating early versions of the JCB and said he thinks the efforts made by the Army toward providing him with better footwear are spot on.

“The designs were conjured up in a lab somewhere, and they were brought out here, and the main focus was the field test with us,” Morse said. “A lot of us have worn these boots for a year now, different variants of the boots. And all the feedback that we’ve put into this, and given to the companies, they have come back and given us better products every single time.”

Morse said he hadn’t initially worn the new jungle boots that he had been asked to evaluate. On a trip to Brunei, he recalled, he went instead with what he was familiar with and what he trusted — a pair of boots he’d worn many times, the kind worn by Soldiers in the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I wore a pair of boots I’d had for a couple of years,” he said. “I wore them in Brunei and I had trench foot within a week. But then I thought — I have this brand new pair of test boots that they asked me to test; they are not broken in, but I’m going to give them a shot. I put them on. After 46 days soaking wet, non-stop, my feet were never completely dry. But I wore those boots, and I never had a problem again.”

The Army didn’t design the new JCB in a vacuum. Instead, it worked with Solders like Morse to get the requirements and design just right — to meet the needs of Soldiers, said Capt. Daniel Ferenczy, the assistant product manager for Soldier Clothing and Individual Equipment.

“We worked with Soldiers to come up with this boot. We take what Soldiers want and need, we boil that down to the salient characteristics, hand that over to our science and technology up at Natick; they work with us and industry, the manufacturing base, to come up with this product,” Ferenczy said. “This is a huge win, a great win story for the Army, because it was such a quick turnaround. Industry did a fantastic job. Our product engineers are also top of the line. And we had a ton of Soldier feedback … we really dealt very closely with what the Soldier needs to get where we are.”

In March, the Army will begin fielding the current iteration of the JCB to Soldiers in the first of two brigade combat teams in Hawaii. During that fielding, the boots will be available in sizes 7-12. In June, the Army will begin fielding the JCB to the second BCT — this time with a wider array of sizes available: sizes 3-16, in narrow, regular, wide and extra wide. They will also go back and take care of those Soldiers from the initial fielding who didn’t get boots due to their size not being available. A third fielding in September will ensure that all Soldiers from the second fielding have boots. Each Soldier will get two pairs of JCBs.

In all, for this initial fielding — meant to meet the requirement laid out last September by the Army’s chief of staff — more than 36,700 JCBs will be manufactured.

By December, the Army will return to Hawaii to ask Soldiers how those new boots are working out for them.

“Al Adams will lead a small group and go back to 25th ID, to conduct focus groups with the Soldiers who are wearing these boots and get their feedback — good and bad,” said Scott A. Fernald, an acquisition technician with PEO Soldier. “From there, the determination will be made, if we had a product we are satisfied with, or if we need to go back and do some tweaking.”


Fernald said that sometime between April and June of 2018, a final purchase description for the JCB will be developed — based on feedback from Soldiers that wore it. He said he expects that in fiscal year 2019, an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract will be signed with multiple vendors to produce the final version of the JCB for the Army.

Bryan said the JCB, when it becomes widely available, will be wearable by all Soldiers who want to wear it — even if they don’t work in a jungle.

“From the get-go we have worked with the G-1 … to make sure we all understood the Army wear standards for boots,” he said. “One of the pieces of feedback we have gotten from Soldiers before they wear them, is they look a lot like our current boots. That’s by design. These will be authorized to wear.”

While the JCB will be authorized for wear by any Solider, Bryan made it clear that there will only be some Soldiers in some units who have the JCB issued to them. And right now, those decisions have not been made. For Soldiers who are not issued the JCB, if they want to wear it they will need to find it and purchase it on their own.

“We are not directing commercial industry to sell them,” Bryan said. “But if they build to the specification we’ve given them for our contract, they can sell them commercially and Soldiers are authorized to wear them.”

(US Army Photos by David Camm)

PEO Soldier Presents – More Than A Momento

Saturday, March 4th, 2017

Fort Belvoir, Virginia (Feb. 23, 2017) – Program Executive Office Soldier’s Project Manager Soldier Protection and Individual Equipment (PM SPIE) seeks to return life-saving personal protective equipment to Soldiers.

The program has been successful, not so much for its outreach, but for the closure it brings the recipients who are reunited with the equipment that saved their lives, according to Project Manager COL Dean Hoffman, who said the program has a lasting impact.

“These are more than mementos, and the recipients we return this equipment to are living testimonials that our stuff works,” Colonel Hoffman said Feb. 23.

The most recent recipient of an armored plate return was a Soldier from one of our elite forces whose name and unit cannot be published.


The colonel oversees PM SPIE at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. He noted there are several partners in the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Lifecycle Team who deserve credit and makes a day like this possible.

“The scientist, the engineers, research labs, acquisition personnel and countless people down the line just doing their job play a key role in making these moments happen,” Colonel Hoffman said.

The most recent recipient of an armored plate return, said that when faced with almost certain death all Soldiers can rely on is their training and their equipment.

The Soldier told his story. It was March 2007, and Soldiers were on a night mission in Iraq. It was dark and the young Sergeant, a squad leader took the initiative and kicked down a door, as part of clearing procedures.

“When I kicked in the door there was a guy with an AK-47 maybe eight to 10 feet in front of me, and he just opened fire,” the Soldier said. “The impact knocked me to the ground. With only muzzle fire as a reference, I kept firing.

“When the shooting had stopped I realized the attacker was deceased, and I thought I was dying as well because I took so many rounds,” the Soldier said. “When the medics arrived and ripped everything open I was bruised on the chest but that was about it.” That night’s actions led to the Soldier being awarded the Silver Star.

Stories like this are common within the PPE Return program. Many Soldiers complain about wearing the armor because of the weight. After an incident where it saves their life, they become an instant advocate.

“I’ve always been taught to not profile yourself when entering a room but to present the body armor,” the Soldier said. “I teach younger Soldiers that today. It worked once; it will work again.”

PEO Soldier’s PPE Return program helps bring closure to Soldiers who faced down their fears. It also instills confidence in that the equipment they deploy with is up to the task.

PM Soldier Weapons Developing Integrated Fire Control for Small Arms Weapons

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

The Army’s headline reads, “PM Soldier Weapons developing first integrated fire control for small arms weapons” but anyone in the firearms industry knows that isn’t true. That’s why our headline differs slightly from the Army.mil article we are sharing.

In fact, the Army has looked at commercial products that already do what they seeking to create.

Consider TrackingPoint which has been available for years. There are other systems as well.

However, it’s good to see the Army developing Programs of Record to field such caoabilities to our Soldiers. What’s more, I’m encouraged to see the Size Weight And Power work that has gone into BOSS.

PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. — What does it take for an Army sniper to accurately hit a person-size target at extreme ranges?

The BOSS is a fully integrated, rifle-mounted (using the Picatinny Rail) automated, full-solution fire-control system for sniper weapons. It has a variable power (6-22x magnification) direct view optic coupled with a precision, eye-safe laser range finder. The system also contains an internal environmental sensor suite, platform orientation inclinometers, and sophisticated ballistic calculator. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army)

The Army thinks it may have the answer to this challenge in a new integrated fire control sighting system for military sniper weapons called the Ballistically Optimized Sniper Scope or BOSS.

“To improve sniper effectiveness, especially at extended distances, we need to find a way to increase accuracy by reducing aiming errors, and minimize the time for the shooter to figure out where to correctly aim his weapon,” said Regina Stonitsch, Assistant Product Manager for BOSS at Project Manager Soldier Weapons. “We believe the answer could be the BOSS Project.”
“Since sniper rifle and ammunition technologies are unlikely to change considerably in the foreseeable future, we’re concentrating our efforts on developing a revolutionary fire control system that will provide a leap in shooter performance and likewise a big return on investment,” she said.

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army)

The BOSS is a fully integrated, rifle-mounted (using the Picatinny Rail) automated, full-solution fire-control system for sniper weapons. It has a variable power (6-22x magnification) direct view optic coupled with a precision, eye-safe laser range finder. The system also contains an internal environmental sensor suite, platform orientation inclinometers, and sophisticated ballistic calculator.

The ballistic calculator uses range, environmental and weapon orientation data to compute a ballistic solution based on weapon and ammunition. It provides an adjusted aim point in the scope, which the shooter then places on target and fires.

The entire time, the shooter never removes his eye from the scope nor loses his sight picture of the target. This allows the shooter to maintain better situational awareness and avoids extra time and effort in reacquiring the target.

BOSS also provides fail-safe sniper operations in case its power source or electronics fail.

The Army acquired a number of advanced technology demonstrator BOSS prototypes and evaluated them over the past year at numerous military bases and Army test centers.

According to Stonitsch, the BOSS prototypes were sniper-vetted against personnel-size targets out to the maximum effective range limits of our current sniper systems.

However, the system is capable of accurately ranging and calculating the required ballistic reticle for those type targets at a comfortable distance, well beyond effective weapon system (rifle/ammo) engagement constraints.

Collected data shows the BOSS will progressively increase the probability of hit, as a function of range, by nearly an order of magnitude at the most extreme range and can reduce engagement times by 50 percent across all ranges.

The system ballistically supports a variety of weapon and ammunition combinations. Shooters can customize it based on observed firing characteristics, such as measured muzzle velocities and pre-transonic zone zeroing or, in other words, just before the bullet starts transitioning to subsonic speeds.

Soldier load is important, and the BOSS is lightweight, weighing 3.5 pounds. It eliminates the need for the discrete sniper accessory kit items currently carried by snipers that perform the same ballistic computation tasks but weigh twice as much.

The system is part of the Army’s overall effort to invest in new, sophisticated small arms fire control systems to enhance Soldier lethality while reducing cognitive burdens under battlefield stress.

“The BOSS is currently designed for snipers, but its technologies can be easily adapted to other small arms weapon systems,” Stonitsch said. “It could be a game-changer for our Warfighters by taking the guesswork out of aiming and making virtually anyone a marksman with the touch of a button.”
If the Army decides to develop, produce and field the BOSS, it could be available to Soldiers as soon as 2020, she said.

SIG SAUER, Inc. Awarded the U.S. Army Contract for its New Modular Handgun System (MHS)

Friday, January 20th, 2017

Newington, NH (January 19, 2017) – SIG SAUER, Inc. announced today that the U.S. Army has selected the SIG SAUER Model P320 to replace the M9 service pistol currently in use since the mid-1980’s. Released in 2014, the P320 is a polymer striker-fired pistol that has proven itself in both the United States and worldwide markets. The P320 is the first modular pistol with interchangeable grip modules that can also be adjusted in frame size and caliber by the operator. All pistols will be produced at the SIG SAUER facilities in New Hampshire.

The MHS Program provides for the delivery of both full size and compact P320’s, over a period of ten (10) years. All pistols will be configurable to receive silencers and will also include both standard and extended capacity magazines.

“I am tremendously proud of the Modular Handgun System Team,” said Army Acquisition Executive, Steffanie Easter in the release. “By maximizing full and open competition across our industry partners, we truly have optimized the private sector advancements in handguns, ammunition and magazines and the end result will ensure a decidedly superior weapon system for our warfighters.”

Ron Cohen, President and CEO of SIG SAUER, said “We are both humbled and proud that the P320 was selected by the U.S. Army as its weapon of choice. Securing this contract is a testimony to SIG SAUER employees and their commitment to innovation, quality and manufacturing the most reliable firearms in the world.”

3M Subsidiary Wins Contracts for Two U.S. Army Soldier Protection Programs

Saturday, January 14th, 2017

ST. PAUL, Minn — The U.S. Army has selected Ceradyne, Inc., a 3M company, as the awardee for two low-rate initial production (LRIP) contracts for next-generation helmet systems and hard body armor inserts as part of the Integrated Head Protection System (IHPS) and Vital Torso Protection (VTP) – Enhanced Small Arms Protective Inserts (ESAPI) components of the Soldier Protection System (SPS).

The Army designed the IHPS to give soldiers a lighter-weight ballistic helmet system that also provides passive hearing protection and increased blunt-impact performance. This helmet system includes numerous accessories, including a mandible, visor, night vision goggle attachment device, rails and modular ballistic applique. The contract awarded to Ceradyne is valued at over $7 million for the delivery of more than 5,300 IHPS helmet systems. Production is expected to start in 2017.

The VTP will equip soldiers with lighter-weight body armor inserts. The $36 million contract is for the production of more than 30,000 ESAPI, with production also expected to start in 2017. This VTP award is an addition to a previous $34 million award, for a total of $70 million on the VTP LRIP contract.

“We are honored to be the awardee of these prestigious contracts,” said Cheryl Ingstad, business manager, Advanced Ceramics Platform – Defense, 3M. “The SPS program represents the highest level of lightweight technology to date. Our focus from the onset has been to meet the Army’s stringent specifications for the SPS, and that will continue as we move into initial production. As a leading science company, 3M has deep expertise in advanced lightweight materials, which, combined with our proven production history, differentiates our defense offerings.”

The SPS will replace the Army’s current personal protective equipment (PPE) system. It is designed to defeat current threats while providing an overall weight reduction for soldiers compared to existing PPE. Both the IHPS and VTP began as research and development programs with multiple contenders.

Ceradyne has delivered more than 120,000 enhanced combat helmets (ECH) to the U.S. Army and Marine Corps since 2014. The ECH offers the highest protection level of any helmet in the U.S. Armed Forces inventory, even protecting against certain small arms threats. Ceradyne has also delivered more than 2 million hard body armor inserts to the U.S. Armed Forces to date.

For more information about soldier protection solutions provided by 3M, visit www.3M.com/Defense.