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UCSD Medical Center Requesting MCSC’s Help to Support COVID-19 Crisis

Wednesday, March 25th, 2020

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. —

The University of California San Diego Medical Center has requested Marine Corps Systems Command’s assistance to help medical professionals as they deal with the evolving crisis of COVID-19.

On March 16, Dr. Sidney Merritt, an anesthesiologist at UCSD Medical Center, contacted MCSC’s Advanced Manufacturing Operations Cell requesting assistance in coordinating 3D printer assets to design parts to enable the simultaneous ventilation of multiple patients.

AMOC initiated collaboration with the Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific Reverse Engineering, Science and Technology for Obsolescence, Restoration and Evaluation Lab to rapidly design, print, test and evaluate prototype ventilator splitters using various materials.

The AMOC team also worked with the Navy’s Bureau of Medicine and Surgery for support in evaluating, certifying and approving the parts prior to delivery to the medical center.

MCSC, NIWC Pacific and UCSD have established a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement to facilitate current and future support requests. A Memorandum of Understanding among MCSC, NIWC Pacific and the Navy’s Bureau of Medicine and Surgery is also being established to codify roles and responsibilities.

MCSC’s involvement

On March 18, Merritt provided design files for the ventilator splitter based upon a successful test print conducted by the UCSD engineering team. UCSD requested assistance in printing ventilator splitters in higher resolution and with diverse materials that could meet specific design requirements.

After receiving the design files, AMOC and the NIWC Pacific RESTORE lab printed several prototypes using different materials. In less than a day, AMOC used its industrial printer in Quantico, Virginia, and the RESTORE Lab employed its organic printers to produce initial prototypes. 

The 3D-printed ventilator splitters were scanned to ensure accuracy with the design files and then brought to UCSD Medical Center for fit testing and further design analysis.

AMOC’s reputation in advanced manufacturing has grown since its establishment in 2019. The cell has demonstrated the ability to produce 3D-printed parts and provide other sustainment and manufacturing solutions in a timely fashion. When called upon, the AMOC can produce parts in a fraction of the time it takes traditional manufacturers.

“AMOC’s response to this situation demonstrates how additive manufacturing can respond quickly to supply chain disruptions and rapidly prototype, evaluate and test new solutions to meet emerging urgent requirements,” said Scott Adams, AMOC lead at MCSC.

The rapid response by AMOC and the NIWC Pacific RESTORE lab to UCSD Medical Center’s request for support is indicative of how the Department of the Navy is prepared to respond to the medical community during the COVID-19 crisis.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the Marine Corps and NIWC Pacific team,” said Carly Jackson, NAVWAR Chief Technology Officer. “We are demonstrating the power, agility and speed of response that our Naval research and development centers bring to bear in times of national need.”

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

MCSC Awards Contract to Trijicon to Produce the Squad Common Optic

Tuesday, February 25th, 2020

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. —

Six months after seeking industry proposals, Marine Corps Systems Command awarded an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, firm-fixed-price contract to Trijicon, Inc., of Wixom, Michigan, Feb. 21 to produce Squad Common Optic systems.

The contract has a maximum ceiling of $64 million, and Trijicon is slated to produce approximately 19,000 units. The purchase also includes spare parts, training, nonfunctional units, interim contractor logistics support and refurbishment of test articles.

Fielding to Fleet Marine Forces will begin in the first quarter of fiscal year 2021 and will be completed by fiscal year 2023.

“The Squad Common Optic provides greater lethality compared to the existing system, the Rifle Combat Optic,” said Lt. Col. Tim Hough, MCSC’s Program Manager for Infantry Weapons.

The SCO is a magnified day optic that improves target acquisition and probability-of-hit with infantry assault rifles. The system comprises a noncaliber-specific reticle and incorporates an illuminated or nonilluminated aim-point. Because the optic is variable in power, Marines can identify their targets from farther distances than the RCO.

 

“The SCO supplements the attrition and replacement of the RCO Family of Optics and the Squad Day Optic for the M27, M4 and M4A1 weapon platforms for close-combat Marines,” said Tom Dever, interim team lead for Combat Optics at MCSC.

 

Awarding the contract through full and open competition, MCSC saved approximately $8 million across the life of the program, according to Hough. He also noted the speed at which the program office worked to award the contract.

In six months, Dever and his team defined system requirements, developed an acquisition strategy, conducted market research, requested vendor proposals and evaluated them against requirements, and implemented the contract strategy before MCSC awarded the contract.

“Tom Dever and his team had to find novel ways to move quickly with this process,” added Hough.

MCSC is undertaking the largest modernization of the infantry squad in the last 25 years. Hough and Dever emphasized that the contract award is one step in PM IW’s large-scale project to overhaul the Corps’ close-combat forces and improve their lethality.

“While the contract award is great, we’re not done yet,” said Dever. “Success is not found in contracts awarded, but rather it’s measured in confirmed kills. By awarding this contract faster, it expedites our ability to get this system in the hands of Marines to accomplish this end goal. That is what PM IW is all about.”

By Matt Gonzales, MCSC Office of Public Affairs and Communication

MCSC Approves Procurement of New LAV Intercom System

Monday, January 27th, 2020

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va.—In December 2019, the Program Manager for Light Armored Vehicles at Marine Corps Systems Command approved the initial procurement of the TOCNET-G4 Intercom System—or G4 ICS—for use in the Family of LAVs.

The G4 ICS is the LAV communication management system that allows Marines to easily communicate, both internally and externally, improving communication and situational awareness on the battlefield.

“We’re providing a communication capability that offers tremendous utility for Marines,” said Dan O’Conner, the project lead for Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance payloads and capabilities for PM LAV.

The G4 ICS is an easy-to-use tactical communication system comprising a user interface that adapts well to the operational environment of the LAV. The equipment provides enhanced audio quality and performance, said O’Conner.

The intercom also controls the entire

communication suite within the LAV. The G4

ICS gives Marines a single point-of-control for

radios, GPS systems and other technologies rather than having to independently manage each system.

“Not only is it simple to use, [G4 ICS] is interoperable with the existing communication suite within the Marine Corps platform,” said Kim Bowen, deputy program manager for LAV. “It also has the ability to easily add a wireless capability.”

In 2017, the Light Armored Reconnaissance Operational Advisory Group identified upgrading the LAV intercom system as their top priority after receiving complaints from Marines about the legacy ICS. A frequent criticism was the older-generation ICS experienced shutdowns causing a loss of communication and lengthy reboot times.

The G4 ICS is a modern ICS that is more fault-tolerant to LAV electrical fluctuations that cause ICS shutdowns and subsequent reboots. In the unlikely event that the G4 ICS does reboot, the G4 ICS will reboot in a few seconds, said O’Conner.

Stakeholder involvement

PM LAV incorporated Marine Corps stakeholders into the evaluation, assessment and selection process of the new ICS to ensure all parties participated in the selection of the system. The acquisition approach focused on assessing the technology’s value and utility for end users, and strategically conducting test and evaluation trials early in the process to better inform decisions, said O’Conner.

“By doing this, we can deliver an improved ICS to the fleet approximately a year earlier than if we followed traditional acquisition methods,” said O’Conner.

In June 2018, PM LAV conducted market research seeking viable candidates for a replacement intercom system. In April 2019, Marines representing all Light Armored Reconnaissance battalions assessed three candidate systems in a Systems Integration Lab during a user evaluation to provide feedback on performance, utility and usability.

After narrowing the search to two systems, a Limited User Evaluation took place in Twentynine Palms, California, and finished at Camp Pendleton, California, in August 2019.

In November 2019, Marine Corps Operational Test and Evaluation Activity—who helped plan the LUE and managed the conduct of the evaluation—provided an independent System Assessment Report, which provided data to support the selection of the G4 ICS. The SAR provided data that clearly showed the G4 ICS performed superior to its competitor.

“We wanted a reliable and easy-to-maintain system that would meet the current and future needs of the user.” said Steve Myers, MCSC’s program manager for LAV. “That is why [Marines] were involved in every step of the process.”

Initial Operational Capability for the new ICS is scheduled for fiscal year 2021, and Full Operational Capability is slated for fiscal year 2022.

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

USMC photo by LCpl Nathaniel Q. Hamilton

Next-Generation Bomb Suit Lightens Load for Marines

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. —
Explosive Ordnance Disposal Marines will soon receive a lighter and more capable bomb suit for protection against various threats.

Fielding in 2020, the EOD Advanced Bomb Suit incorporates several 21st century, next-generation technological advancements intended to help EOD Marines withstand arduous conditions on the battlefield.

The system protects against severe injuries caused by blast overpressure, shrapnel, heat and impacts. The suit also comprises an elaborate integrated ventilation system to reduce heat stress and improve breathing.

“The new EOD bomb suit provides the warfighter with additional protection and flexibility,” said Fernando Pena, Marine Corps Systems Command’s project officer for the suit. “It is a superior suit compared with the previous system.”

In 2014, the Corps fielded an innovative bomb suit that has provided protection to the warfighter. However, because threats are ever-evolving, the need to find new ways to safeguard EOD Marines is paramount in carrying out missions and defeating adversaries.

Master Sgt. Zachariah Kindvall, an MCSC subject matter expert for the EOD bomb suit, says the new system helps meet the warfighter’s ever-changing needs.

“The new EOD bomb suit will add another level of personal protection equipment for Marines to use,” said Kindvall. “It provides a higher level of protection than what we currently have.”

The EOD suit meets or exceeds the performance and characteristics of the legacy system. For example, the newer system has a more ergonomic design, offers superior overall balanced protection, and provides greater situational awareness and operational capabilities, said Pena.

Kindvall noted how the suit offers more comfort, reducing the risk of fatigue. He said engineers emphasized the design and fitting of the suit, making it easier for the warfighter to maneuver. The clothing is also easier to don and doff compared with the previous system.

“The foot protection, in particular, is much easier to walk in and provides much more comfort and protection,” said Kindvall.

Additionally, the suit is significantly lighter than its older counterpart—a characteristic of the system Kindvall says can help Marines. Lightening the warfighter’s load is important because too much gear can wear on the warfighter. The new bomb suit reduces weight while also enhancing protection and communication.

“Lightening the load gives Marines more flexibility during missions—even if it is just a reduction of a few pounds,” said Kindvall. “That weight reduction can be significant.”

Both Pena and Kindvall are confident the system will be advantageous on the battlefield. As Pena explained, the warfighter can investigate and perform render-safe procedures involving an improvised explosive device knowing the suit’s added stability can protect them from serious impact and other hazards.

“We as a program office must be proactive in understanding the dynamic changes of today’s threats as well as future threats,” said Pena. “The new EOD bomb suit helps to support this idea.”

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

Fine-tuning the Corps’ Amphibious Combat Vehicle in Preparation for IOT&E

Friday, October 4th, 2019

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. —

Three thousand miles away from the epicenter of Marine Corps Amphibious Combat Vehicle acquisition, a cadre of Marines, civilians and contractors are hard at work completing a logistics demonstration effort on the vehicle.

The logistics demonstration effort—or Log Demo—is one of the last steps the Advanced Amphibious Assault program office at Program Executive Officer Land Systems needs to execute before training Marines in the Operating Forces to use and maintain the vehicle during IOT&E, the integrated operational test and evaluation activities scheduled for next year.

“Log Demo’s main purpose is to verify the validity and accuracy of the ACV’s technical manuals,” said Tommy “TJ” Pittman, Log Demo’s technical manager lead for PM AAA. “We want to make sure that the Marine can do the job, given the technical manual, training and tools [provided to them].”

For the logistics demonstration team, this means individually reviewing and performing nearly 1,500 work package procedures in the Interactive Electronic Technical Manual designed for Marines in charge of vehicle maintenance.

The demo also involves reviewing 125 work packages—spanning over 2,000 pages—in the Electronic Technical Manual designed for Marine ACV operators. The Common Remotely Operated Weapons System—or CROWS—on the ACV also has its own technical manual that the team must verify.

“This is less about our ability to perform the task or our skills as a mechanic, and more about whether the IETM can direct us to do the task properly” said Staff Sgt. Justin Hanush, lead ACV maintenance instructor for Advanced Amphibious Assault program office’s new equipment training team at PEO LS. “We’re painstakingly going through the IETM word-for-word, letter-by-letter, illustrations, everything—to make sure we can do the task as the IETM is written.”

A next-generation technical manual for a next-generation vehicle

The IETM is especially noteworthy because, for the Marine Corps, it’s the first of its kind for ground vehicles.

“I’ve personally worked for 15 years on getting the Marine Corps an interactive electronic tech manual that can be updated within moments,” said Pittman.

As a former Assault Amphibious Vehicle operator, the 24-year Marine Corps veteran has extensive experience operating and maintaining vehicles in the amphibious assault community. Pittman worked with Army Aviation and Missile Command to integrate the ACV’s IETM onto their software system and servers.

The interactive aspect of the technical manual streamlines the diagnostic and troubleshooting process Marines use when performing maintenance on a vehicle. By collaborating with the Army on a virtual manual, the Marine Corps can also reduce the amount of time needed to make updates to the IETM.

In the past, it could take up to a year for the technical manual for the ACV’s predecessor, the Assault Amphibious Vehicle, to be updated, said Hanush. With the introduction of the new IETM software, updates to the technical manual are implemented overnight.

On the ACV operator side, the team is ensuring their technical manual is clearly written so Marines can properly operate the vehicle and provide first-level maintenance on the vehicle if needed, said Sgt. Jarrod Warren, lead ACV operator instructor for the NETT.

“It’s important that the outcomes we reach when going through the ETM are the same outcomes stated in the book,” said Warren. “It’s also important to make sure we can maintain the vehicle at our level and, if not, we know when to bring it up to the maintenance side.”

The importance of meticulously reviewing the technical manuals to ensure the validity and accuracy of the document is not lost on Hanush, who noted, “I could have grandchildren someday who join the Marine Corps, and they could be working off the manual that I’m helping to write.”

Technical manual writing aside, Hanush is appreciative of the dedication of his fellow Marines during Log Demo, saying, “I couldn’t ask for a better group of ACV mechanics. They’re knocking it out of the park.”

One team, one fight, under one roof

Unlike other logistic demonstrations undertaken by the Corps, which typically take place at a contractor’s facility, this one takes place at the Marine Corps’ Amphibious Vehicle Test Branch at Camp Pendleton, California.

The three-month logistics demonstration took more than a year-and-a-half to plan, said Pittman. He said a unique aspect of Log Demo was that the program office, rather than the contractor, planned and created the logistics demonstration plan.

Equally critical to the success of the Log Demo effort are PM AAA’s industry partners, whose participation spans multiple states and continents, and whose roles vary from field service representatives to technical illustrators.

“We have about 65 individuals on the ground here, between the Marines, civilians, BAE, and one foreign representative from Iveco, which is the subcontractor to BAE on the vehicle,” said Pittman. “We have the right people—the writers, the illustrators, the engineers, the Marines, the data collectors, the safety people and the —in one location, which makes communication between the groups so much easier.”

Moving forward to IOT&E

Currently, the Marines on the NETT are the Corps’ uniformed subject matter experts on the ACV. Following Log Demo, Hanush, Warren and the rest of the NETT will use the verified training manuals as their guide to train and prepare Marines for IOT&E.

IOT&E is the program office’s final evaluation of the ACV before fielding the vehicle. During IOT&E, executed by Marine Corps Operational Test and Evaluation Activity, the NETT will take a step back from operating and maintaining the vehicle and instead enable Marines to put the vehicle through its paces.

“IOT&E is sort of like a dress rehearsal for the system,” said Maj. Scott Jennings, a project officer at MCOTEA who will be involved with IOT&E of the ACV. “Marines will operate the vehicle in realistic environments and go on realistic missions so that we can evaluate the operational suitability and effectiveness of the system and see if it does what we want it to do in the way we want to do it.”

Until then, PM AAA’s focus is to ensure the ACV is ready for use. The modernized vehicle brings the Corps’ amphibious assault capabilities back to the forefront and will assist Marines in reestablishing themselves as a naval expeditionary force-in-readiness prepared to operate inside actively contested maritime spaces in support of fleet operations.

“I believe wholeheartedly in the mission these [Marines] do out there because I’ve been there,” said Pittman, who has dedicated over 48 years of his life to the assault amphibious community as an active duty Marine and a civilian. “I believe that we need to give them the best assets that we can possibly put in their hands, to not only save their lives, but to also protect our freedom.”

By Ashley Calingo, PEO Land Systems Public Affairs | Marine Corps Systems Command

Handheld Digital Targeting System Provides Fire and Air Support to Marines

Tuesday, September 17th, 2019

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. —

A Marine Corps Systems Command fire support device will be one of several communication technologies demonstrated at Island Marauder 2019.

The Target Handoff System version 2.0 is a lightweight, fire control system that employs commercial off-the-shelf, shock-resistant tablets to perform various targeting functions. The man-portable technology helps ascertain global positioning coordinates and call for fire support.

It allows Marines to use a single system to control close air support as well as artillery, mortars and naval surface fire support missions.

“THSv2 is the digital fire support Program of Record for the Marine Corps,” said Jeff Nebel, Fire Support Coordination team lead at MCSC. “It is a modular equipment suite that provides the warfighter with the capability to quickly and accurately identify and locate targets, and transmit that information digitally to fire support systems or weapons platforms.”

Fielded in fiscal year 2018, THSv2 enables the Marine Air-Ground Task Force to view an updated satellite image of the topography of a location. The technology provides a platform for receiving and manipulating video information. It can also be used as a controller for unmanned and autonomous systems.

“The system decreases the probability of incorrect data transfer of the initial fire request by providing a digital communication link between the observer and fires platform,” said Nebel.

The Corps has leveraged electronic tablets—including the MAGTF Common Handheld—to support the warfighter. Like MCH, THSv2 is software embedded into a tablet. However, MCH is primarily used for situational awareness on the battlefield, while THSv2 feeds information to Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System and other fire support and weapons platforms.

THSv2 is interoperable with several other technologies, including the AN/PRC-117 radio, Naval Fire Control System and the Common Laser Range Finder-Integrated Capability. At Island Marauder 2019, Marines will demonstrate the interoperability of THSv2 with other communication systems, including Networking on the Move.

Engineers and analysts for the THSv2 emphasize its significance in completing missions on the battlefield.

“The Target Handoff System version 2.0 is important to the warfighter because it speeds up the kill chain and reduces human error by not requiring targeting information to be passed via voice,” said William Bensch, an analyst for THSv2. “Everything is done digitally.”

Since its fielding, THSv2 has received positive feedback from Marines who participated in various live-fire events and other training. Nebel hopes annual hardware and software updates will make the technology even more useful to the warfighter.

 “It’s a piece of the latest and greatest in cutting edge technology,” said Bensch. “The system is robust enough to be expanded upon. We’re looking to provide the warfighter with the best equipment to engage the enemy faster and more efficiently—and THSv2 does that.”

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

Photos by PFC Taylor W. Cooper

Handheld Tablet Improves Situational Awareness for Marines

Sunday, September 15th, 2019

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. —

During Island Marauder 2019, Marines will demonstrate the effectiveness of several Marine Corps Systems Command technologies—including a handheld system that helps the warfighter navigate on the battlefield.

The Marine Air-Ground Task Force Common Handheld is a tablet-based communication system that enhances situational awareness on the battlefield. The device enables dismounted Marines to leverage commercial smart devices to plot and share locations.

The device includes pre-installed tactical applications to eliminate the need to juggle multiple technologies for various capabilities, lightening the load for the warfighter.

“MCH is essentially an interactive tactical mapping program with a GPS navigation software and a chat functionality,” said Maj. Richard Beeson, MCH project officer at MCSC. “The technology feeds the battalion’s current operational picture with real-time friendly force positions and allows this battlespace awareness to be shared down to the squad-leader level.”

The tablet feeds the information into Networking On-the-Move, while simultaneously transmitting it to the Combat Operations Center, where command leaders can use the information to make critical battlefield decisions.

Through MCH, commanders can disseminate orders, graphics and digital data, providing Marines the ability to visualize the commander’s intent and scheme of maneuver.

“It helps Marines to share enemy locations in real-time in an easily understood digital, moving map format,” added Beeson.

MCH enables warfighters to pass messages to one another in real-time—similar to text messaging—allowing the commander to make faster, more effective, decisions. It also assists the warfighter in deciphering whether an explosion was caused by enemy or friendly fire.

“MCH is a Command and Control situational awareness system that gives the squad leader and platoon commander a better understanding of the battlefield to make tactical decisions,” said Justin Meidinger, an engineer for MCH. “This system helps them have a better idea of what is going on around them.”

Earlier this year, the Corps fielded an early release version of the system to Marines. In fiscal year 2020, the warfighter will receive an updated version of the MCH that allows Marines to communicate with one another through several additional joint communication systems.

Later this month at Island Marauder, Marines will demonstrate the effectiveness and interoperability of MCH by linking it with other satellite technologies. The risk-assessment evaluation is intended to reduce miscommunication among Marines who use communication technologies. Beeson raved about the benefits of MCH and how the system supports the warfighter.

“MCH allows for communication, collaboration and coordinating among units,” said Beeson. “It helps everyone to be on same page. MCH increases the digital lethality of Marine infantry squads while reducing the risk of friendly fire.”

 

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

Marine Corps Awards Contract for New Night Vision Goggles

Tuesday, September 10th, 2019

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. —

Less than 11 months after seeking industry proposals for a new helmet-mounted night vision system, Marine Corps Systems Command has awarded a contract to provide an updated system to Marines.

Harris Corporation of Roanoke, Virginia, was awarded a maximum $249,000,000 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract Sept. 6, for the purchase of the Squad Binocular Night Vision Goggle system. Approximately 14,000 systems will be delivered, and the work will be completed by September 2024.

The SBNVG combines two systems: a binocular night vision device and enhanced clip-on thermal imager. It is lighter than the current Army/Navy Portable Visual Search devices, or AN/PVS-15. The SBNVG also has improved depth perception, and the ability to detect and recognize targets in extreme low light, in inclement weather and in the presence of obscurants.  

“Additionally, the use of white phosphor provides a greater capability to see at night with more clarity, giving Marines enhanced situational awareness,” said Lt. Col. Tim Hough, program manager for Infantry Weapons at MCSC.

The Corps previously used an existing Defense Logistics Agency contract to procure 1,300 systems to see how an interim solution could best meet the capability requirement.

“We made the investment to procure the 1,300 systems and fielded them to two infantry battalion, so we already had a good, robust understanding of the technology we were chasing,” said Roberto Gonzalez, team lead for Combat Optics at MCSC. “That allowed us to quickly get through the source selection process [for this contract].”  

Using full and open competition, MCSC also realized approximately $70 million in savings across the Future Years Defense Program.  

Marine infantry units will be the first to receive the new night vision goggles when fielding begins in the spring of 2020.

“Awarding this SBNVG contract and fielding these systems to the warfighter is one more step toward increasing the command and control, lethality and ability of the infantry squad to overwhelm our adversaries,” said Hough.

Story by Monique Randolph, MCSC Office of Public Affairs and Communication | Marine Corps Systems Command

U.S. Marine Corps photos by Joseph Neigh