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Archive for the ‘SOF’ Category

USSOCOM Issues Pre-Solicitation for SPEAR Family of Tactical Headborne Systems Coxswain Helmet

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

The United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) recently issued a pre-solicitation notice to industry pursuant to their requirement for a multi-year contract to procure Special Operations Forces Personal Equipment Advanced Requirements (SPEAR) Family of Tactical Headborne Systems (FTHS)-Coxswain Helmet System. The Coxswain Helmet system is the most interesting helmet system from a technical standpoint and more closely resembles the recent Next Generation Helmet work done for SOF by Ops-Core and Revision.  Although Ops-Core is keeping their’s under wraps, Revision recently released their candidate commercially, as the Batlskin Caiman Head System.


DoD Photo by MSG Timothy Lawn.

The coxswain helmet will consist of a non-ballistic helmet system with modular accessories which will consist of a visor, ballistic mandible, non-ballistic (i.e. impact) mandible, and two piece ballistic appliqué. Additionally, the helmets require a variety of VAS Shrouds, Helmet Covers, Accessory Rails, Pads, Exterior Velcro sets, and Peltor Adapters.

The helmets will be offered in five sizes in Tan, Neutral Grey, AOR 1, AOR 2 and MultiCam.

The government intends to award a five-year Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) Firm Fixed Price (FFP) production contract for a fully developed item to the offeror with the best value to the Government. They are looking for Commercial-Off-The-Shelf items. The actual solicitation should be issued in June and the minimum contract value will be $150K and the maximum contract value will be $95M.

Because of the scalability of the Coxswain Helmet I wonder how long it will be before other SOF personnel want it instead of the standard SOCOM helmet already in solicitation.  

For full details, visit www.fbo.gov.

75th Ranger Regt To Stand Up 5th Battalion

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

On Monday, 22 May, 2017, at Fort Benning, Georgia, the 75th Ranger Regiment will stand up a fifth battalion. There haven’t been five active Ranger Battalions since World War II.

However, this battalion is a little different. It’s the Military Intelligence Bn (Provisional). The battalion’s two companies will offer expanded capability beyond the current MI Co in the Regiment’s Special Troops Bn. It’s mission is to provide multi-discipline, full-spectrum, worldwide, expeditionary, and reach back intelligence capabilities for the 75th Ranger Regiment enterprise. Furthermore, it institutionalizes and professionalizes the find, fix, finish, exploit and analyze (F3EA) targeting methodology required to counter enemy combatant forces’ tactics, techniques, and methods.

The RMIB(P) will consist of a Ranger Military Intelligence Company providing all-source analysis, GEOINT, IMINT, HUMINT, and UAS functions along with a Combat Electromagnetic Activities Capabilities (CEMA) Company which will offer EW, SIGINT, Technical Surveillance and Cyber support. Additionally, there is a Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment.

Congratulations Rangers!

Revision Showcases FTHS Special Forces Head Systems At SOFIC

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

Essex Junction, Vermont (May 15, 2017) – After a rigorous and collaborative development process, Revision Military, the world leader in integrated head systems, will showcase the Company’s new Special Forces helmet systems at the 2017 Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) in Tampa, Florida on May 16th. Revision’s Special Forces helmet solutions were developed for SOCOM’s highly anticipated Family of Tactical Headborne Systems (FTHS) program, a solicitation that is primed to define Special Operations Forces (SOF) head protection for the foreseeable future.

“True to form, Revision took this generative, ground up process to the extreme, setting ambitious goals for performance and innovation while working on a narrow timeline,” said Jonathan Blanshay, CEO, Revision Military. “The scope and creative latitude of this program fit well with Revision’s capabilities and reputation for sweeping innovation. Revision invested heavily in this project—in time, personnel, and financial capital—and, in parallel, we significantly strengthened our manufacturing—adding several million dollars of new equipment and expanding our principal helmet manufacturing facility—modernizing our operations and increasing capacity to support this program simultaneously. In this process, Revision brought a wide-range of SOF users to the table. Special Forces operators can feel real ownership of the end-product, knowing that their demands were addressed and readdressed continuously. We are genuinely excited to unleash the full scope of our vision for the future of Special Forces head protection.”

Revision’s SOF helmet suite addresses SOCOM’s technical challenges head on: optimized weight, protection, and mobility indices and system component integration. Revision has developed two cutting-edge helmet systems: a Carbon Bump System and a Ballistic System with liner system, rails, and Wilcox® Mount. Revision’s Carbon Bump helmet can be ballistically-enabled—add-on armor appliques up the protection level for ballistic, blunt-force, blast-force, and fragmentation threats. And, the skeletonization of all system components has significantly reduced the overall weight of these helmet systems.

Revision’s FTHS head systems showcase at SOFIC represents the culmination of an intensive ground-up design and development program, dating back to the beginning of 2016, as well as exhaustive testing, analysis, and trials. Communicating with esteemed Special Forces operators, from across the special ops spectrum, Revision created a head systems suite tailored to the experience and feedback of SOF operators.

Revision’s FTHS solutions will be available commercially in 2017. The suite of products will be known as the Batlskin Caiman Head System. Additional Caiman Head System accessories and components are planned for later this year and early 2018.

www.revisionmilitary.com

Total Game Changer – USSOCOM & USMC Take First Steps Toward Adopting a .338NM Lightweight Medium Machine Gun

Monday, May 15th, 2017

In a move that will turn the term “Overmatch” on its ear, the United States Special Operations Command, in conjunction with the United States Marine Corps has issued a sources sought notice for 5,000 Lightweight Medium Machine Guns in .338 Norma Magnum. The Russian PKM is a primary concern for dismounted infantry and the LWMMG doubles the 1000m effective range of the PKM.

Specifically, they are seeking producers who can provide:
-complete machinegun system to include weapon, suppressed barrel, and tripod
-any tools needed to conduct basic maintenance

In short, the capability will provide a machine gun which is lighter than the current 7.62mm M240, yet offers nearly the reach of the .50 M2. However, unlike the M2, this new capability will offer pinpoint accuracy at those ranges. What’s more, with the introduction of polymer cased ammo, the weight of ammunition comes much closer to 7.62 than .50.

LWMMG specifics: The LWMMG should fire the belted .338NM round of ammunition with a polymer case. The LWMMG should weigh less than 24 pounds unloaded with a barrel length of 24in. The LWMMG should have a rate of fire of between 500-600 rounds per minute. Weapon shall be compatible with current rail mounted aiming systems with the ability to incorporate more advanced fire control technology. The system should include both a suppressed barrel and an unsuppressed barrel that can be rapidly changed. The LWMMG should include a tripod that is lightweight and provides the stability and accuracy required to engage targets at extreme ranges. The LWMMG should be able to mount in current machinegun mounts designed for the M240B/C. The weapon should have sufficient accuracy to engage area targets and vehicles at 2,000m.

At the recent NDIA Armaments Symposium, USASOC DCS G8, COL Samuel Ashley briefed this capability. The capability has been sufficiently demonstrated to move to procurement. However, COL Ashley related that this new capability will require new ootics amd target acquisition solutions.

To be sure, adopting a new cartridge is an expensive endeavor, but in this case, the new capability more than outweighs the cost. Additionally, SOCOM plans to introduce the caliber to its upcoming multi-caliber Advanced Sniper Rifle, along with a legacy 7.62 NATO and .300NM round.

One interesting point in the RFI is the mention of two types of barrels. One is a standard barrel and the other is suppressed. Notice they didn’t ask for a suppressor, but rather a suppressed barrel. As GD has demonstrated the weapon in use with a detachable suppressor in the past, this indicates they must have developed an integrally suppressed barrel. The amount of Interal Reasearch and Development Dollars GD has put into this weapon is impressive.

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This 2016 chart from a Jim Schatz briefing to industry depicts the weights of the M240, LWMMG and M2. In addition to weapon upgrades, Polycase technology is going to further lighten that load, or better yet, increase the amount of ammunition a machine gunner can carry.

We recently mentioned General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems’, Commercial Off The Shelf solution which this requirement is based on and is available right now, but I would not be surprised to see other vendors offer up solutions as well. I’ll keep my eyes peeled during this week’s SOFIC to see what turns up.

Some readers will get wrapped around the axel over the 5,000 number of systems in the RFI; but don’t. It’s a nice round number the government is using to measure industry’s capacity to produce the weapon. By no means is it a basis of issue plan based number.

In my opinion, adoption of this capability is the single greatest small arms capability enhancement to the US military in the last century. It offers the ability to deliver accurate sustained fire at ranges out to 2000m in a package which can be employed by one operator. MARSOC has been following the weapon’s development, but good on the Marine Corps writ large in seeing the value of this proposition. Hopefully, the US Army, a service very concerned about threat overmatch, will move this capability from a Future to Near-Term priority. However, based on recent directed requirement from the 4-Star level, I would not be surprised to see this happen as SOCOM’s program reaches maturity. This will not only enhance the Army’s capabilities but also help control ammunition costs.

For those interested in full details, visit www.fbo.gov.

Protonex Delivers Panther Power

Monday, May 15th, 2017

USSOCOM has begun to field the Panther2 man-packable satellite communications system from L3 GCS with certain USASOC units to replace the existing Panther Gen5 systems. The Panther 2 system is being fielded with USASOC units in all capacities (contingency, combat, JCET, PDP, and other military operations).

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A need was identified to power the Panther2 SOF Deployable Node (SDN) system from organic Conformal Wearable Batteries – rather than AC power of BB-2590 batteries. As the SPM-622 Squad Power Manager from Protonex has been proving its value as a universal power scavenger / manager in the field with SOCOM elements, it seemed an ideal basis from upon to address the problem.

A call was made to Protonex and an R&D contract was signed. Within approximately 90 days from start to finish, the operational power requirements were addressed, and hardware was developed to successfully power the system from 2 CWBs in series. The photo below shows the complete system in use at an end-user location.

To learn more about what the PTX line of power management solutions can help you never run out of power when you need it, drop by to talk to the Protonex team at SOFIC – booth #2232.

#NeverRunOut

www.ptxnomad.com

USASOC Envisions Taking SOPMOD Into The 2020s With A New Upper Receiver Group For Its M4A1s

Monday, May 8th, 2017

During last week’s NDIA Armaments Conference, United States Army Special Operations Command’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Requirements (G8), COL Samuel Ashley briefed an upcoming program. The command is interested in fielding a new Upper Reciever Group for its M4A1 SOPMOD carbines.

This isn’t the same program as the current Suppressed UpperReceiver Group (SURG) intended to procure an integrally suppressed upper, which can be still held despite going through a brutal protocol of eight magazines.

The Special Operations Peculiar Modifications or SOPMOD program was begun in the early 1990s to offer specialized weapon modifications and accessories for SOF’s carbines. Paid for by Major Force Program-11 funds, M-4 carbines received rail systems and a toolkit of optics and weapon lights. MFP-11 is USOCOM’s budget authority, while Army SOF get their service common items like M9 pistols, M320 Grenade Launchers and Mk 19 AGLs from the Army via MFP-2.

But before anything else happens with this program, Naval Surface Warfare Center – Crane, which has responsibility for the development, procurement and life-cycle management of SOCOM’s small arms fleet, has to publish the results of a Mid-length vs Carbine-length gas study it’s finishing up. That study will inform this URG requirement. Officials won’t say what they expect to find during the study, but quite a bit of headway has been made in the commercial market with mid-length gas systems, particularly when paired with suppressors.

Naturally, this means that these will be direct impingement uppers, unlike the M27 IAR, piston-driven rifles the Marine Corps is considering for expanded fielding. Despite interest from the peanut gallery, there are no plans for SOCOM-wide fielding of the HK416.

Although exact details of the requirement have not been released, USASOC did not develop them in a vacuum.

An ongoing Soldier Enhancement Program initiative, launched in 2014, has been leveraged to inform the requirement. Initially, the Army purchased a small number of AU-MOD 2s from Hodge Defense Systems, Inc which were evaluated by Picatinny as well as USASOC. This was the first time a carbine had been evaluated under SEP. Later in 2016, the Army purchased rifles from other manufacturers which included LMT, Daniel Defense and SIG, amongst others.

COL Ashley said that they see two variants of the URG, a 14.5″ and 10.5″, denoting barrel lengths which replicate their current capability. Of course, the mid-length gas system would only apply to the 14.5″ and not the 10.5″ upper.

One thing we know, this URG program will include the M-LOK attachment system, which is backward compatible with MIL STD 1913 via adapters. Based on the briefing slide, it also looks like USASOC wants to go with the SureFire WarComp, in negative timing mode. The WarComp is compatible with SureFire suppressors and COL Ashley mentioned that the command is quite pleased with the performance of its current suppressors.

While USASOC has interest in several new calibers, none of them are for their carbine. The URG will be in 5.56mm NATO, intended to fire the M855A1 cartridge, which COL Ashley related, USASOC is very satisfied with.

However within SOCOM, there is a Naval Special Warfare driven requirement for a Personal Defense Weapon in .300 Blackout. Additionally, USASOC is conducting a 6.5mm caliber ammunition evaluation for a Intermediate Caliber Sniper Rifle/Carbine as well as Intermediate Caliber Assault Machine Gun. Finally, SOCOM plans to field an Advanced Sniper Rifle in .300 Norma Magnum to be accompanied by a .338NM cartridge which may also see service with a Lightweight Medium Machine Gun, combining the weight of an M240 with the reach of an M2 Machine Gun.

Programs like this not only help ensure that SOCOM’s M-4A1 platform benefits from upgrades from the latest technology, but the Army, and other services, can also adopt this URG, to improve the performance of their carbines. COL Ashley said to look for this requirement to hit the streets in FY18.

US Army Special Operations Command Seeks Precision Intermediate Caliber Ammunition

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

During a briefing earlier this week at the NDIA Armaments Congerence in Fredericksburg, Virginia, COL Samuel Ashley, the DCS G8 for the US Army Special Operations Command, discussed a current initiative to identify a Precision Intermediate Caliber ammunition from within the 6.5mm family. In this joint effort between USASOC and PEO Soldier’s PM for Soldier Weapons, they will test 23 different cartridges in 6.5mm Creedmoor and .260 Remington later this month, using the Army’s 2000m Doppler RADAR equipped range, at the nearby Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. Based on this research, they will conduct a user evaluation of the selected cartridge, in October. This is a very fast paced effort which aims to identify a 6.5mm family cartridge for integration into a USASOC requirement for a new semiautomatic sniper weapon. It will also give others a leg up in identifying a viable option for an intermediate caliber.

USSOCOM briefer, LTC Mark Owens, PM for Ammo, Weapons and Visual Augmentation Systems supports the efforts of SOF components like USASOC, and added some additional insight into where the ammunition selected from the USASOC study might go. He mentioned that in FY18 we should see the development of a 6.5mm Assault Machine Gun which would result in the fielding, soon thereafter, of an Intermediate Caliber Assault Machine Gun. The cartridge decision will also lead to the fielding of an Intermediate Caliber Sniper Rifle/Carbine in the years FY19-23.

USSOCOM To Host Small Business Roundtable

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

The United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) is hosting a Small Business Roundtable in Tampa, FL on 28 June 2017 from 2:00pm-4:00pm, with a no host social from 4:00pm-5:00pm. Government participants will be the Acquisition Executive, the Director of Procurement, and the Director of the Office of Small Business Programs. USSOCOM would like to have participation from all socio-economic categories and a variety of industries. Space is limited to 25 individuals; therefore, participation is restricted to one participant per small business.
If interested in participating, please send the following information to paul.ward@socom.mil:

Company Name
Company CAGE code or DUNS number
Predominant NAICS Code(s)
Socio-economic status
Name of Person attending
Contact Phone Number
Contact email

Responses are due by close of business on 19 May 2017. Responses received after the due date may not be considered. Invitations for those selected to attend will be sent out no later than close of business on 26 May 2017. If not selected for this event, your contact information will be saved in the event we hold future round tables.

Questions can be directed to Paul Ward, paul.ward@socom.mil, (813)826-2279