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Supporting the Future Fight: MCSC Modernizing Infantry Capabilities

Monday, May 17th, 2021

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. —

The Marine Corps has been investing time, money and resources into modernizing the force to meet objectives outlined in the Commandant’s Planning Guidance, Force Design 2030 and the National Defense Strategy.

Brig. Gen. A.J. Pasagian, commander of Marine Corps Systems Command, has stated that no investment is more important than those in support of the infantry Marine.

“The Marine Corps in 2030 does not exist without the individual Marine, what they’re wearing and what they’re carrying,” said Pasagian. “Enhancing our infantry Marines by providing them with the best capabilities available remains an integral, ongoing priority for the Marine Corps.”

MCSC has placed great emphasis on meeting the demands of the future force to ensure Marines are never in a fair fight, said Pasagian. To achieve this objective, the command has concentrated on increasing infantry communication, lethality and survivability.

Increased close combat lethality

Over the last few years, MCSC developed and fielded several new, modernized capabilities to Marines, including the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle, Squad Common Optic, Squad Binocular Night Vision Goggles and M320A1 grenade launcher.

The M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle, originally fielded in 2011, is lighter and reaches farther distances than its predecessor, the M249 squad automatic weapon, said CWO4 David Tomlinson, MCSC’s infantry weapons officer.

“The M27 is fully automatic and increases their accuracy compared with previous weapons systems,” said Tomlinson. “The increased accuracy leads to increased lethality.”

Over time, the popularity of the weapon blossomed among Marines. They raved about its ease of use and overall effectiveness. This led to the Corps expanding its fielding to all rifle platoons as their primary individual weapon.

Earlier this year, Marines began receiving the Squad Common Optic, an innovative new rifle sight that better enables shooters to identify and engage the enemy from farther distances in variable light conditions. It can be attached to the M4 and M4A1 Carbine as well as the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle.

“The Squad Common Optic is a variable-power optic that allows Marines to engage to threats at the maximum effective range of their weapons system, improving target acquisition and probability-of-hit with infantry assault rifles,” said Tomlinson.

In 2020, MCSC also fielded the Squad Binocular Night Vision Goggle—a lightweight, helmet-mounted night vision system that provides increased depth perception, improved clarity and a thermal-imaging capability to detect targets in extreme darkness or through battlefield obscurants.

The SBNVG enables Marines to operate vehicles at night, move through dark buildings or tunnels, and engage targets after sunset. By using this system, Marines can be as lethal at night as they are in the daytime, said Tomlinson.

The Marine Corps also began fielding a new grenade launcher last year. The M320A1 is a single-fire system that Marines can either mount onto another rifle or use as a stand-alone weapon.

“The M320A1 provides an improved capability to engage the enemy day and night, while retaining the capability of short range, reflexive fire of the primary weapon,” said Capt. Nick Berger, MCSC’s project officer for the M320A1. “In addition, the M320A1 increases the small unit flexibility in employing lethal, nonlethal and special-purpose munitions by allowing them to tailor the weapon configuration to the mission.”

Lightening the load

Infantry units need more than just weapons to get the job done. The Marine Corps leans heavily upon MCSC’s Program Manager for Infantry Combat Equipment to research, develop and field lightweight protective gear designed to increase survivability.

In 2020, MCSC began updating its enhanced combat helmet to improve fit and comfort. The improved, high-cut helmet includes a retention system that tightens around the circumference of the head and adjusts easier. Female Marines, in particular, have noted how the high-cut ECH fits their hair buns better than the legacy ECH.

Another notable fielding in 2020 was the Plate Carrier Generation III, a next-generation protective vest that provides improved fit, form and function for Marines. The PC Gen. III guards against bullets and fragmentation when coupled with protective plates.

The PC Gen. III uses less material than the Plate Carrier that fielded in 2011. Lt. Col. Andrew Konicki, the program manager for Infantry Combat Equipment, explained that the improved designed of the PC Gen. III reduces the overall weight and bulkiness of the vest, increasing maneuverability.

“Lightening the load is important because it allows Marines to be more agile when moving from covered position to covered position,” said Konicki. “Improved mobility increases survivability while preserving endurance, which enhances a Marine’s lethality.”

In 2021, MCSC began fielding the Marine Corps Intense Cold Weather Boot—a full-grain, leather boot designed for use in temperatures as cold as -20 degrees Fahrenheit. The ICWB is lighter and less bulky than the Extreme Cold Weather Boot, employed in -65 to -20 degrees Fahrenheit.

The ICWB allows Marines to complete various missions that might involve hiking or skiing in arduous, cold weather environments without having to change boots, said Konicki.

“This boot lightens the load for Marines because they’ll need only one boot for cold weather operations instead of having to carry two sets of boots and change based on the weather conditions,” said Konicki.

On the ammunition front, MCSC awarded a contract in 2020 to test and evaluate new, lightweight .50-caliber polymer ammo, with an intent to further lighten the warfighter’s load. The ammo, to be used in the M2 Machine Gun, is significantly lighter and easier to haul than the traditional brass casings.

Polymer is a class of plastic-like material that weighs less than brass and other metals commonly used in weapon systems. As the Marine Corps evaluates .50-caliber polymer ammo, other services are also evaluating other types of ammo.

The Army, for instance, is validating a 7.62mm polymer round, which could also potentially make its way to Marines in the future.

CWO3 Chad Cason, a project officer with MCSC’s Program Manager for Ammunition, said polymer ammo enables Marines to carry more with less fatigue, enhancing combat readiness. He also noted how the ammunition is just as effective as the brass ammo of the past.

“This is truly an innovative program, as [PM Ammunition] continues its modernization efforts in support of increasing lethality and capability to the Fleet Marine Force,” said Cason.

MCSC will host several limited user evaluations in 2021 and 2022, allowing Marines to assess the effectiveness and performance of the ammunition. Marine feedback during these assessments will inform a future fielding decision, said Cason.

Enhanced communication

Operating in a 21st century environment also requires innovative command and control equipment to increase communication on the battlefield.

In 2019, the Marine Corps fielded a lightweight, tablet system that improves situational awareness on the battlefield. The Marine Air-Ground Task Force Common Handheld enables Marines to use commercial smart devices to plot and share points, offering an overall view of the battlespace to commanders.

Later that year, MCSC upgraded the MCH to allow Marines to communicate with one another through several additional communication systems, including the Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System and the Army’s Joint Battle Command-Platform.

“Communication is critical to ensure Marines and commanders in the field have access to information and data at the right levels,” said John Maurer, deputy portfolio manager for MCSC’s Command Element Systems. “It enables, facilitates and accelerates decision-making and situational awareness.”

In 2020, the Marine Corps also fielded a next-generation High Frequency Radio II, which provides Marines with long-range, beyond line-of-site radio communications. The radio system comprises Wideband HF, increasing the data rate to more quickly communicate larger amounts of information.

Maurer said the HFR II is a modern, resilient and sustainable capability that is significantly smaller and lighter than the legacy HF radio. MCSC’s Ground Radios HFR II Team, led by Leigh King, accelerated the acquisition process and achieved fielding one year earlier than originally planned.

The MCH, HFR II and several other communication systems acquired by MCSC are designed to make communication more seamless and efficient for infantry Marines, said Maurer.

“We are positioned to meet the Commandant’s Planning Guidance by providing multiple new systems to infantry Marines to enable the kill chain,” said Maurer. “The capabilities provided will support the initial operational capability of Force Design 2030 by providing assured command and control in a degraded environment, information warfare superiority and protected mobility for enhanced maneuver.”

The importance of training

The Marine Corps cannot accomplish its modernization goals alone.

Chris Woodburn, of the Capabilities Development Directorate at the Combat Development and Integration, said they will continue to solicit support from industry and other services to field innovative capabilities and posture for the future fight.

“The Marine Corps is fielding several close combat lethality enhancements to address near-term requirements while working with the Army to pursue the next generation capabilities for the future,” said Woodburn. “These enhancements facilitate our close combat forces’ ability to leverage the best capability now, while posturing for the future through continued work with partner services.”

Tomlinson believes updating infantry units relevant gear is a critical step in gaining a competitive advantage over adversaries. However, he said the acquisition of effective equipment and the employment of active training can help the Marine Corps reach its modernization goals.

“Lethality isn’t just an item,” said Tomlinson. “We can give Marines a new system, but that doesn’t necessarily make them more lethal. Lethality also involves incorporating proper, effective training.”

Tomlinson said MCSC often employs New Equipment Training events to furnish Marines with the knowledge necessary to operate new capabilities. MCSC’s Training Systems program office also ensures Marines are equipped with the technology and systems needed to use newly-fielded capabilities in a simulated environment.

The Marine Corps’ Training and Education Command also plays an important role in increasing the lethality of Marines.

TECOM leads the Marine Corps’ individual entry-level training, professional military education and continuous professional development, through unit, collective and service-level training. The group’s intent is to enhance warfighting organizations that enable Marines to build and sustain the combat readiness required to fight and win today and in the future.

“The modernization of gear and equipment needs to be seamless to the training piece,” said CWO4 Anthony Viggiani, TECOM’s infantry weapons officer. “It’s not just the gear and equipment that makes an individual more lethal, it co-aligns the training as well.”

Viggiani said training offers the preparation needed to increase battlefield lethality. Training equips Marines with the confidence and capabilities needed to employ a piece of equipment to its maximum effectiveness, he said.

“You can’t just give an individual gear and equipment and think that’s going to solve all our problems,” said Viggiani. “Training is an important steppingstone to increasing lethality on the battlefield.”

Matt Gonzales, MCSC Office of Public Affairs and Communication, Marine Corps Systems Command

GPS Source Receives Order for 1,000th MAPS GEN I Assured Positioning, Navigation and Timing System

Friday, May 14th, 2021


Increasing electronic warfare threats drive U.S. Army demand for the first fielded Mounted Assured PNT System.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – GPS Source, a subsidiary of General Dynamics Mission Systems and the only provider of a currently fielded Assured Positioning, Navigation and Timing (APNT) solution available to the U.S. Army, announced today it has received an order for the 1,000th Mounted APNT System (MAPS), Generation I (MAPS GEN I).

MAPS GEN I is a mobile modular system that monitors GPS signals for validity and sends the validated data to military devices, even when GPS signals are degraded or denied. This system has been in rapid development, production, and fielding since the recognition of the critical need to protect GPS signals against peer and near-peer adversary electronic warfare attacks. It is the only mounted assured PNT solution allowing warfighters to conduct mobile operations in a GPS-contested environment.

The Army fielded the MAPS GEN I system in the fall of 2019, making it the first APNT solution to market. The Army deployed 62 systems and several systems engineers to the 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Germany for installation and continued testing. Based on successful installation and performance of these systems and over 40 previously deployed systems, the Army’s Project Manager Positioning, Navigation, and Timing submitted orders for more than 930 additional systems to be installed in ground vehicles in 2021.

“The MAPS GEN I that is being fielded today closes a critical capability gap for the U.S. Army in major areas of responsibility around the world,” said Aaron Mebust, vice president and director for PNT Products at General Dynamics Mission Systems. “We are proud to deliver this capability to the Army and are working to develop new capabilities to combat these evolving threats and help keep our soldiers safe.”

Prior to testing and deploying MAPS GEN I, the Army used other GPS Source products, having previously fielded the D3 (DAGR Distributed Device) PNT hub and the ECHO-II GPS indoor retransmission smart amplifier, and thousands of military grade components to receive disseminate and rebroadcast GPS data. Since 2000, GPS Source has provided GPS distribution and validation equipment to the U.S. military.

More information about the MAPS GEN I and other APNT solutions developed by GPS Source is available at www.gpssource.com.

Bryodyn Technologies – Mission Builder

Thursday, May 13th, 2021

Bryodyn Technologies is a small business in the DC area which specializes in secure communications as well as support for the family of Team Awareness Kit (TAK) software.

One of the products they offer is Mission Builder which provides Accelerated Android EUD Provisioning. TAK is already used in conjunction with at least 16? other programs of record (list is constantly growing) and organizations continue to turn to TAK for situational awareness and data management at the individual level.

Mission Builder™ is an Android™ End User Device (EUD) configuration and provisioning management tool designed to keep your mission data synchronized and available to those who need it, when they need it.

Often times the end-user device (EUD) shows up ?without the TAK software, leaving units to “figure it out.” Mission Builder makes it as simple as connecting to a USB hub and syncing to a laptop, allowing multiple EUDs to be configured simultaneously.

Not only are the EUDs provisioned, but they are also configured with the correct data sets for the mission ahead, including geospatial information and plug-ins.

Gentex Awarded Aviation Contract for Groundcrew Communications Headset System by UK MoD

Wednesday, May 12th, 2021

THE UK MINISTRY OF DEFENSE SELECTS THE OPS-CORE ADAPTIVE MISSION PLATFORM (AMP®) COMMUNICATION HEADSET FOR ITS AIRCRAFT MAINTAINERS

CARBONDALE, PA May 12, 2021 –

Gentex Corporation, a global leader in personal protection and situational awareness solutions for defense forces and emergency personnel, announced today that it has been awarded the contract for Groundcrew Communications Headset System (GCHS) by the United Kingdom Ministry of Defense for the Ops-Core AMP® Communication Headset. Beginning in Fall of 2021, groundcrew aircraft maintainers will wear the connectorized AMP® Communication Headset with Near Field Magnetic Induction (NFMI) earplugs.

The AMP® Communication Headset was vetted for both fixed and rotary wing applications by MoD groundcrew aircraft maintainers working in high noise environments. It will integrate into existing communications systems. The AMP® Communication Headset’s 3D Hear-Through (3DHT) technology allows aircraft maintainers to retain situational awareness while meeting UK requirements for hearing protection.

“We are proud to have been chosen by the UK MoD to protect their aircraft maintainers,” said Robert McCay, Vice President at Gentex Corporation, “It is a continuation of our longstanding relationship with the UK armed forces, both air and ground.”

The AMP® Communication headset is CE approved EN352.

Gentex’s portfolio of products includes helmets, optical protection, respiratory, and situational awareness solutions. For more information visit, www.gentexcorp.com/gentex/defense/air.

Champion Announces New Small Frame Ear Muffs

Wednesday, May 5th, 2021

New Muffs Designed Specifically to Fit Small Frame and Women Shooters

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – May 3, 2021 – Champion Range & Targets, makers of interactive and challenging target systems and trusted eye and ear protection, announced today the arrival of their new Small Frame ear muffs. These new muffs are designed specifically to fit smaller heads, making them ideal for shooters that find traditional hearing muffs too large.

“At Champion, we are constantly looking at the hearing protection market in order to bring the best products to the shooting industry,” said Will Hemeyer, senior product manager for Champion Range & Targets. “Premium materials and comfort have been a key component of our new hearing protection over the last few years. These small frame muffs were developed based on feedback from shooters with smaller heads who had tried traditional muffs but found them to be too big and uncomfortable. Based on their feedback and from others across our retail channels, we now have the most comfortable set of slim muffs on the market that users can obtain in five exciting color patterns.”

Champion Small Frame sound dampening ear muffs offer the same great protection shooters have come to expect from Champion, with a noise reduction rating of 21 dB, comfortable headband and adjustable fit for a wide range of ages. These lightweight, low-profile muffs are made for all-day comfort and superior hearing protection at the range. Multiple color options are available, including black, gray, pink, orange and blue.

The muffs are also priced for entry-level shooters with an MSRP of $14.95. For more information about these or other Champion hearing protection products, visit championtarget.com.

DISCO32 – Mil-spec Nexus U94 with Black Hardware

Wednesday, May 5th, 2021

DISCO32 offers a Mil-spec Nexus U94 with black hardware which is designed to be used with actual Military Headsets that use Dynamic Microphones and standard NATO wiring. These include popular headsets like MSA Sordin and the 3M Peltor COMTAC Series.

If you are looking for the solution to using your military headset with your commercial off the shelf radio with an Ailunce HD1 style plug this is it.

Fully tested on MSA Sordin, 3M Peltor Comtac, OTTO Tac and Ops Core Amp Communication Headsets (Headsets require down-leads with NATO WIRING)

Features:

All Black Hardware

Custom Amplification Circuitry

Cable Length 20 inches

Assembled in the USA

Compatible with the following radios:

Ailunce HD1

Retevis: RT82, RT87, RT29, RT47,RT4

www.disco32.com/products/u-94-a-ailunce-hd1

Noisefighters and 4D Tactical Introduce Heatsync, A Sweat-Wicking, Silver-Embedded Fabric Ear Pad Cover for Headsets

Tuesday, April 20th, 2021

GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN (19 APRIL, 2021)

NOISEFIGHTERS and its development partner 4D TACTICAL today announces the public launch of the HEATSYNCTM sweat-wicking, form-fitting fabric ear pad cover for headsets. Heatsync addresses the #1 problem with over-the-ear headsets: in hot weather, there is internal sweat accumulation and excessive heat buildup. A form-fitting cover — made 100% in the U.S.A. from advanced materials including 4D Tactical’s NanoTech silver-embedded, antimicrobial, wicking fabric — is pulled tight over the headset’s existing ear pads. In use, the Heatsync draws perspiration out from the inside of the headset and helps cool the wearer through the evaporative process, while also eliminating the slimy feeling normally associated with pressing wet rubber ear pads against the head in hot weather.

“Teaching over 70 classes a year, I practically live in hearing protection. The comfort and protection Noisefighters products offer is second to none, and the new Heatsync has only made it better. Goodbye, sweaty earpro!” said Erik “Trek” Utrecht, owner of Michigan Defensive Firearms Institute (MDFI: https://trainmdfi.com). MDFI is a Michigan-based training company that trains over 1500 students annually with the goal of building responsibly-armed citizens that are confident and competent with their defensive tools.


Photo showing the Noisefighters Heatsync in coyote brown and black colors installed on headsets, with Qore Performance IceVents Ventilated Headbands additionally installed.

“After more than two years of development, I’m extremely excited to get Heatsync out into the world. Being able to partner with 4D Tactical on this product is a dream come true, as their leadership team brings decades of experience to the table and a standing in the industry that’s really unmatched,” said Neal Brace, inventor of the product and owner of Noisefighters. “Heatsync is, to my knowledge, the first viable answer to the problem that my customers have brought up time and time again: in hot weather, how does one stay cool, or at least comfortable, while wearing a headset that is designed to seal the noise out? The solution we came up with is tightly form fitting, keeps the ear cup cavity fully open for comfort, and ensures the noise seal is totally closed for safety. It doesn’t rely on electronics, just specially-engineered fabrics and a clever design.”

4D Tactical’s leadership team, including CEO Heidi Dennis and Vice President David Dennis, said in a statement that they were, “[…] very pleased to have had the opportunity to collaborate with Noisefighters. We feel the Heatsync product provides significant improvements to conventional headset ear seals. We hope this is just the beginning of our collaboration with Noisefighters.”


Photo showing the Noisefighters Heatsync in coyote brown installed on a headset and attached to a helmet.

Heatsync is a universal cover designed to fit every headset that uses the industry standard 4″ (102 mm) tall by 3″ (76 mm) wide oval or rectangular ear pads of thicknesses between 0.5″ (12.7mm) and 0.75″ (19mm). A stainless steel expanding spring is included to lock the Heatsync cover to the inside of each cup on the headset and keep the ear cup cavity open. The cover was tested and proven to fit all current headsets from Ops-Core®, Peltor®, Howard Leight®, Sordin®, Walker’s Game Ear®, and many brands of aviation headsets, as well. It may fit other headsets with slightly smaller, larger, or even fully circular ear pads with different thicknesses, as well, due to the stretchable fabric construction. Installation is very fast, easy, and reversible, with no evidence of the cover ever having been attached.


Photo showing the form-fitting nature of the Noisefighters Heatsync sweat-wicking fabric cover, shown in both coyote brown and black colors.

During extreme cold weather use, the cover additionally provides an insulative barrier between the freezing cold rubber ear pads and the user’s face. The Heatsync’s proprietary fabrics are also pleasing to the touch and add a noticeable amount of comfort versus rubber ear pads. The design is fully compatible with either foam-filled or gel-filled ear pads, and its highly-compliant fabric is a perfect fit with Noisefighters’ Sightlines gel-filled ear pads that feature a patented relief cut feature for glasses arms to pass through.


Photo showing both colors of the Noisefighters Heatsync with product packaging.

Heatsync is made in the U.S.A. and is fully Berry Amendment and TAA compliant.

Heatsync’s MSRP is $90, with product launch sale pricing set at $75. Noisefighters offers a discount program for LEO / MIL and veterans / EMS / FD / security professionals / defensive tactics instructors, with details available on its website on the FAQ page. Organizations looking to purchase in bulk can inquire about a volume discount.

Noisefighters has the Heatsync available for sale on its website and will soon make it available through its extensive, worldwide dealer network.

CONTACT:

Noisefighters
www.noisefighters.com [email protected]
616-226-3551
Instagram: @noisefighters

goTenna Pro X Deployment Kit Tutorial

Sunday, April 18th, 2021

This is a tutorial on how to use the goTenna Pro X Deployment Kit. With this kit, your team can create an ad hoc mobile mesh network with up to 30 VHF or UHF devices at a moment’s notice.

This compact and ruggedized network management kit is used by teams operating goTenna Pro X devices and third-party software like ATAK in complex environments where no service is not an option.

For more information on the goKit, visit: gotennapro.com/products/gotenna-pro-x-deployment-kit