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Archive for the ‘PEO-Soldier’ Category

PEO Soldier Team Wins 2019 Packard Acquisition Award For Sub Compact Weapon

Thursday, November 7th, 2019

FORT BELVOIR, Va. — The Sub Compact Weapon Team, part of the Program Executive Office (PEO) for Soldier, has received the David Packard Excellence in Acquisition Award for its work to use an other-transaction authority (OTA) to deliver a new subcompact weapon system in 12 months.

The team, part of PEO Soldier’s Project Manager for Soldier Weapons, is one of five teams across the DOD that received the prestigious award, given by the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment to organizations that have demonstrated exemplary performance and innovation in acquiring and delivering products and capabilities for the warfighter.

Managed by the Product Manager for Individual Weapons, the team includes representatives from the product management office as well as the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) — Armaments Center; the U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center; the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command; the CCDC Army Research Laboratory’s Human Research and Engineering Directorate; Army Contracting Command — New Jersey (ACC-NJ): and the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM).

The team was responding to an urgent request issued in the spring of 2018 from the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command for a new weapon that would support the U.S. Army’s Protective Services Battalion mission to provide continuous, protective close-in security to senior high-risk personnel while maintaining stringent discretion in attire and profile.

Based on the guidance from the secretary of the Army to select the weapon in 12 months, the team moved from a standard DOD 5000.01 acquisition approach using Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR)-based contracting to an OTA approach.

In July 2018, ACC-NJ released a prototype opportunity notice to support the procurement of subcompact weapons for evaluation, testing, two phases of down-selection, and fielding. To maintain the accelerated schedule, offerors submitted videos in the first stage of down-selection to visually demonstrate how their weapons met the minimum requirements, along with pricing information.

Technical testing on the candidate systems began at Aberdeen Test Center, Maryland, in November 2018, and a Soldier touch point was conducted in January 2019 at Quantico, Virginia. The team’s logistics and fielding leads coordinated closely with TACOM Total Package Fielding and Defense Logistics Agency Distribution in Anniston, Alabama, to ensure that weapons were quickly processed through Army logistics systems to meet the required first unit equipped date of May 31, 2019.

On March 29, the Army awarded a production delivery order to Brugger and Thomet USA for its APC9K Semi-Automatic Carbine. The award will furnish 350 APC9Ks, with an option to acquire up to 1,000 of the subcompact 9 mm weapons, with a total ceiling amount of $2.5 million. On May 31, the team fielded the first set of 10 weapons to the 701st Military Police Protective Services Battalion at Fort Belvoir, Virginia–approximately two and a half years earlier than it would have if the program had pursued a FAR-based approach with a formal Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System-approved requirement.

Also receiving Packard Awards were the Department of the Air Force Launch Enterprise Team and the U.S. Air Force Pitch Day team, as well as two teams from the U.S. Special Operations Command: Distributed Common Ground/Surface System — Special Operations Forces, and the Tactical Assault Kit Configuration Steering Board.

A ceremony honoring the winners will be hosted by Hon. Ellen M. Lord, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, and David L. Norquist, deputy secretary of defense, Dec. 2 at the Pentagon.

PEO Soldier Visits Modular Handgun System Producer SIG SAUER

Sunday, September 29th, 2019

Army Brigadier General Anthony Potts, U.S. Army, PEO – Soldier recently visited SIG SAUER, manufacturer of the Modular Handgun System saying, “This handgun (M17 and M18) can do everything we’ve asked a handgun to do.”

He was accompanied by a group of Army and Defense Contract Management Agency personnel recently to celebrate the success of the SIG SAUER Modular Handgun System (MHS) Program.

During the month of August SIG delivered a record 11,571 M17s and M18s to the US Army.

US Army Seeks IDEAs for Next Generation Squad Weapons

Wednesday, September 18th, 2019

The US Army is all-in on upgrading its Small Arms for Close Combat Forces to a Next Generation Squad Weapons configuration.

Not only have the proceeded to Phase II of their search for a new Automatic Rifle and Carbine chambered in 6.8mm by downselecting weapons from General Dynamics OTS, SIG SAUER and AAI Textron Systems, but they’ve just put out a call to industry asking for their NGSW IDEAs.

Through the Innovative Designs & Engineering Assessment (IDEA) Program, Project Manager Soldier Weapons, is seeking information on new, innovative, enabling technologies that can be applied to NGSW weapons, fire control, and/or ammunition. These technologies will be used for experimentation, technical evaluation, and/or assessment of operational utility focused on enhancing system performance, sustainment, and/or training. This information will advise/inform future NGSW requirements and may compliment or be integrated into existing programs such as the NGSW weapons, ammunition, and fire control.

With so many parallel efforts going on at once, it’s obvious they want these weapons to be ready as quickly as possible.

Vendors who want to participate have until the end of the year to submit, but my advice is to send a submission in as soon as possible, for proper consideration.

Army Research Looks at Pearls for Clues on Enhancing Lightweight Armor for Soldiers

Tuesday, September 17th, 2019

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — Round, smooth and iridescent, pearls are among the world’s most exquisite jewels; now, these gems are inspiring a U.S. Army research project to improve military armor.

By mimicking the outer coating of pearls (nacre, or as it’s more commonly known, mother of pearl), researchers at University at Buffalo, funded by the Army Research Office (ARO), created a lightweight plastic that is 14 times stronger and eight times lighter (less dense) than steel and ideal for absorbing the impact of bullets and other projectiles.


Photo Credit: Shutterstock

ARO is an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory.

The research findings are published in the journal ACS Applied Polymer Materials, and its earlier publication in J. Phys. Chem. Lett.

“The material is stiff, strong and tough,” said Dr. Shenqiang Ren, professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, a member of University of Buffalo’s RENEW Institute, and the paper’s lead author. “It could be applicable to vests, helmets and other types of body armor, as well as protective armor for ships, helicopters and other vehicles.”


Photo Credit: Courtesy University at Buffalo

The bulk of the material is a souped-up version of polyethylene (the most common plastic) called ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene, or UHMWPE, which is used to make products like artificial hips and guitar picks.

When designing the UHMWPE, the researchers studied mother of pearl, which mollusks create by arranging a form of calcium carbonate into a structure that resembles interlocking bricks. Like mother of pearl, the researchers designed the material to have an extremely tough outer shell with a more flexible inner backing that’s capable of deforming and absorbing projectiles.

“Professor Ren’s work designing UHMWPE to dramatically improve impact strength may lead to new generations of lightweight armor that provide both protection and mobility for Soldiers,” said Dr. Evan Runnerstrom, program manager, materials design, ARO. “In contrast to steel or ceramic armor, UHMWPE could also be easier to cast or mold into complex shapes, providing versatile protection for Soldiers, vehicles, and other Army assets.”

This is what’s known as soft armor, in which soft yet tightly woven materials create what is essentially a very strong net capable of stopping bullets. KEVLAR is a well-known example.

The material the research team developed also has high thermal conductivity. This ability to rapidly dissipate heat further helps it to absorb the energy of bullets and other projectiles.

The team further experimented with the UHMWPE by adding silica nanoparticles, finding that tiny bits of the chemical could enhance the material’s properties and potentially create stronger armor.

“This work demonstrates that the right materials design approaches have the potential to make big impacts for Army technologies,” Runnerstrom said.

By U.S. Army CCDC Army Research Laboratory Public Affairs

Soldiers “at the heart of” Modernizing Warfighter Gear

Friday, August 23rd, 2019

This is the Army News Service’s take on the Adaptive Squad Architecture industry day I attended earlier this week. I’m always interested to see what others take away from these meetings.

SPRINGFIELD, Va. — Army leaders met with industry partners Tuesday to focus on new ways to outfit Soldiers with lighter weight, wireless, and tech-compatible systems, looking at revamping the Adaptive Squad Architecture.

“For years, dismounted Soldiers have been overburdened by equipment which, while highly effective, often isn’t integrated with other equipment,” said Brig. Gen. Anthony Potts, PEO Soldier.

The restructure pinpoints Soldiers, at the individual and squad level, as the linchpin for ASA’s future modernizations. It’s one of the largest reconstructions conducted by PEO Soldier, Potts said

A Soldier’s lethality, mobility, and overall safety is “at the heart of the matter,” he said.

Potts, who took over PEO Soldier last year, unveiled his organization’s new vision to more than 100 industry leaders Tuesday in Springfield, Virginia. The goal is harmonizing Soldiers and squads as an integrated combat platform, similar to a Black Hawk helicopter or Abrams tank.

“(The Army) wouldn’t buy a tank piece by piece,” said Col. Travis Thompson, Soldier Lethality Cross-Functional Team chief of staff, to stakeholders. “So why would you buy a Soldier’s kit that way?”

The Adaptive Squad Architecture targets tomorrow’s battlefield, and creates ways to modernize, train, and structure ground forces within the architectural framework laid out by the Army, Potts said, adding, “The goal is to collaborate with private companies to provide next-generation capabilities and increase the lethality, mobility, and survivability, while countering emerging threats.”

“This is a collective venture (with the Army and industry partners) to change the paradigm of bringing capabilities to Soldiers,” Potts said, adding, “I’ll own the architecture. I just want the ability to plug in and plug out.”

Although the broad view doesn’t initially affect Soldiers, in the future their daily lives will change as modernized equipment becomes standard in their kits. The framework provided will “deliver capabilities to the field, faster, more effective, and cheaper” than before, according to Thompson.

In a grassroots effort to ensure effective modernization of new capabilities, Potts has welcomed input from ground-level Soldiers who are impacted by their decisions the most.

Tapping into how Soldiers feel about their equipment helps leaders develop an architectural path forward.

“Soldiers designing systems for Soldiers is dependent on [Adaptive Squad Architecture,]” Potts said, adding, the “from the bottom up” path to an integrated combat platform depends on the thoughts and ideas of every Soldier.

Potts, along with other senior leaders, has traveled the nation listening to Soldier’s needs, giving them a voice of change regarding their equipment.

Dismounted Soldiers may carry from 50 to 70% of their body weight in gear. In the past, with each piece of new technology a Soldier received, came the burden of more weight to carry around, along with the challenge to find more space to secure it.

Lighter gear will be found by eliminating excessive power sources and heavy cords currently lugged around, and streamlining multiple tech capabilities through a single hardware device.

“Our lethality comes from improving Soldiers’ kits,” said Potts.

This is a “new approach formed by old failures,” said Col. Troy Denomy, Soldier Warrior project manager. “Ultimately, this will get us very quickly to a point of sustained overmatch against our adversaries.”

Story by Thomas Brading, Army News Service

Photo by SSG Carmen Fleischmann

The US Army’s Adaptive Squad Architecture Initiative Treats Squad As Integrated Combat Platform

Wednesday, August 21st, 2019

For too long, the Army has treated the Soldier like a Christmas tree, hanging pieces of equipment here and there. In total, it consists of 85 pieces of kit, weighing 122lbs with some of the burden owing to redundant power sources and connector cables. Adaptive Squad Architecture is going to change all of that.

To do this, the Army is preparing to undergo an 18-month effort to use a Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) to create system-level Interface Control Documents (ICD) for the Adaptive Squad Architecture.

The Catalyst For Change

The catalyst for this transformation is the development of the Integrated Visual Augmentation System by Microsoft, a single system which allows the Soldier to Fight, Rehearse and Train. It integrates I2 with thermal IR cameras, overlaid with augmented reality information. Artificial environments and adversaries can be fed into the IVAS screen allowing for training and rehearsal. Machine learning and Artificial Intelligence will offer a more dynamic foe who learns from the Soldier’s actions, like a real enemy.

It is such a leap ahead, a whole architecture had to be developed along with it, including comms links and power. The Army concluded it was time to look at not just the Soldier, but the Squad as a whole.

The goal is to begin using the ASA by January 2021 as the foundation for achieving the Soldier as an Integrated Weapons Platform and the Squad as an Integrated Combat Platform making them a peer with other major weapon systems. To get there, they’re going to need standards for industry.

Interfaces

Key focus areas of the ASA will be establishing common standards and Interface Control Documents for power management; data management (on each Soldier, between Soldiers in the Squad, and between Squads); physical equipment interfaces; and size, space, and weight management at the Soldier and Squad level. ICDs will be living documents, adapting as technology improves.

Although, this article is primarily focused on the development of ICDs, ASA will also offer an Architecture Assessment Tool (AAT) and a Configuration Management (CM) Database which looks at the Soldier and Squad’s configuration and includes a visualization tool. The AAT allows the small unit leader to configure a Soldier and Squad, alerting to incompatible equipment choices and load weight concerns.

The MOSA approach is also intended to reduce the weight carried by Soldiers/Squads by having an architecture that facilitates combining multiple capabilities into a single hardware device and eliminating legacy hardware by developing software applications that can be used on existing peripherals.

Problem Solving

Adaptive Squad Architecture may be the most important undertaking PEO Soldier has ever performed. The very fact that PEO Soldier invited the media to attend their Industry Day is indicative of this fact. The last Industry Day we were invited to by PEO Soldier was the Camouflage Improvement Effort In 2009.

The name is exciting, but the work will be tedious, for government and industry alike. They plan to create system-level ICDs for a government-owned technical architecture for the Soldier as an Integrated Weapons Platform and the Squad as an Integrated Combat Platform. The goal is to make the Soldier and Squad into digital platforms. I look at ASA as akin to a Software Development Kit for the Soldier.

Primary stakeholders for the ASA are the acquisition community which directly supports the Soldier and Squad, namely the Science and Technology (S&T) partners, the combat developers, the materiel developers, and industry partners.

Although many of the Program Executive Offices across the Army will contribute to this effort, the program is under the watchful eye of PEO Soldier, BG Anthony Potts. Yesterday, he addressed a crowd consisting of government and industry professionals to layout the effort.

His biggest concern is that the ICD is meaningful to industry. He believes that the Army will initially get it wrong, but is prepared to work with industry to get it right. Communication is key. He also wants to energize better relationships with smaller, non-traditional entrepreneurs who have interesting, innovative solutions, without having to go through larger companies.

General Potts wants to focus on problem statements rather than solutions. This will allow industry to design and build, loosely coupled, highly cohesive, severable modules. Another important goal is to reduce proprietary designs. The Army will establish the interfaces, the ability to plug-in and plug-out (electrical, mechanical interfaces), but its up to industry to come up with the actual capabilities.

Earlier, I mentioned the Christmas tree analogy. General Potts used this example. The Soldier is burdened by a bunch of heavy ornaments like a Christmas tree. The call comes to reduce weight and make the Soldier more maneuverable, more lethal. That increased maneuverability means that a Soldier can draw and fire his weapon first. Potts comes to his conclusion, “He who draws first, generally wins.”

Soldier Integration Facility

One of the primary ways the Army is dealing with this new way of looking at the Squad is the creation of a Soldier Integration Facility on Fort Belvoir as part of the Close Combat Force Enterprise. The SIF will operationalize technologies. COL Troy Denomy will be in charge of the SIF, referring to it as a collaboration tool even though it’s a facility. It should open 1 October and will become pivotal for every PM shop at PEO Soldier as well representatives from others.

But even before the SIF gets their hands on it, a new concept begins at the Soldier/Squad Performance Research Institute (S2PRINT) at Natick and are then refined at the SIF. Once they’ve come up with a solution, they’ll work closely with the experimental force at the Maneuver Battle Lab to prove it out.

PEO Soldier plans to be their own integrator, including coders on the team. The SIF will also include a business office to work with industry. General Potts envisions this office will help smaller companies work with larger companies, write awards, or purchase IP outright. They hope to set aside $1 million to get this effort moving. They’ll leverage OTAs, BAAs and other collaborative acquisition tools to invigorate solutions.

Down In The Weeds

“Obviously, a big challenge is power,” General Potts related, “there are too many batteries.” He discussed the upcoming Next Generation Weapons. They will power themselves with a powered rail which also moves data and the rail will run all of the electronic enablers on the weapon.

Another issue is the proliferation of communications devices. Currently, only three Soldiers per Squad have a radio. As IVAS is fielded, every Soldier in a Squad will have a data radio with IVAS. Moving from 128 bit to 256 bit encryption Secure Ultra Wide Band to move data around the Squad in a secure, but unclassified network. The end user device will be replaced by a “puck” but it will still rely on ATAK as the software environment.

This led the discussion to software management. The Army plans for a single ATAK software update per year across the enterprise, vice the four SOCOM currently accomplishes, but that decision is a function of organizational size.

In one of the boldest moves, they’re setting up a marketplace for apps to allow Soldiers to customize their software load based upon mission. The vision is that it works in a similar fashion to a phone app stores like iTunes. This concept will reward developers based upon actual use rather than the current model which creates software which may or may not be used. Under the developmental name Watchtower, the marketplace is in beta testing with an initial roll out in Q1 20 and FOC Q4 20.

More To Come

After he wrapped up with industry, General Potts and his team spent a few monitored with the media. He related that the creation of the SIF isn’t the only organizational change coming to PEO Soldier. We’ll see some renaming of the Program Manager shops to better describe their roles and additional capabilities will be added to the team once a full mission analysis is completed.

US Army Seeks Direct View Optics for M4 Carbines

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019

The US Army has issued a Prototype Project Opportunity Notice (PPON) for a Direct View Optic. This is a Mid-Tier Acquisition effort to quickly identify, test and procure a 1-6x variable power optic for use with the M4A1 Carbine.

The DVO will be capable of variable power magnification with minimum magnification of 1.0x with no rounding and maximum magnification greater than or equal to 6.0 power.

Rationale: Variable power magnification optics combine the capabilities of the non-magnified optic’s ability to engage close quarter targets with a fixed-magnification optic’s ability to detect, recognize, identify, and precisely engage targets at extended ranges. This allows the Soldier to have both critical capabilities without the limitations of either non magnified or fixed magnification optics.

The Government intends to award up to four independent fixed amount Other Transactional Agreements for DVO prototyping, with the goal of delivering 15 Direct View Optic (DVO) Systems with operator manual, MIL-STD-1913 rail compatible mounting hardware, battery, and cleaning items per awardee to be delivered within 30 calendar days after OTA award date. The Government intends to evaluate and award, based on a trade-off process, up to four fixed amount, stand-alone OTAs.

Based on the results of the prototype testing and updated proposals, the Government intends to conduct an evaluation of successfully completed prototype OTAs and, select one prototype OTA awardee for award of a follow-on production Agreement or contract for a known quantity of 50 DVOs. Although, the Army currently has no requirements beyond the known quantity of 50 DVO systems, the maximum quantity of the follow-on Agreement or contact may be up to 120,000 DVO Systems. The follow-on production Agreement or contract will be for five years and will have Line Item Number (LIN) Range Pricing.

Based on source selection, the Army plans to purchase up to 120,000 optics for use by its close combat forces as well as some room in the contract for other agencies interested in purchasing them as well.

Close Combat Forces are those are most likely to conduct direct combat with the enemy and include Infantry, Cavalry Scouts, and Combat Engineers as well as those who provide them embedded support, such as Combat Medics.

Due to the DVO magnification, one potential threat is that an incoming laser could be magnified to essentially make a safe laser unsafe. Every production contract DVO will be equipped with a Laser Filter Unit (LFU) to mitigate this threat. The LFU is an objective lens end mounted filter produced to a Government specification. Other than that, and the mount requirement, the PPON leaves everything pretty open, allowing the Army to evaluate a wide variety of scopes.

Although the Army is focused on procuring a Next Generation Automatic Rifle and Carbine for these Forces, it will take several years to select these weapons and field them. The DVO will be placed quickly into service to enhance the Soldier’s ability to detect, recognize, identify, and accurately engage targets at extended ranges. The want to increase not only lethality but selectivity as well.

This isn’t the first time the Army has procured a 1-6x Optic. Last year, they selected the SIG Optics TANGO6T for use with the Squad Designated Marksman Rifle variant of H&K’s G28 in 7.62mm NATO. However, there are a lot of great optics on the market. With the Army being pretty open to looking at different options, this could very well come down to production capacity.

Closing date for this PPON is Aug 05, 2019 at 5:00 pm Eastern.

For full details, visit www.fbo.gov.

US Army To Procure New Variable Scopes For M4 Carbines

Thursday, June 6th, 2019

During this week’s NDIA Annual Armament Meeting LTC Steven Power, Assistant Program Manager for Individual Weapons under PM Soldier Weapons, PEO Soldier, briefed current and upcoming Small Arms efforts.

He covered a lot of ground, but the big surprise was that the Army would soon be releasing a requirement for a Direct View Optic which is a 1-6x variable scope. What makes this even more interesting is that these will be used in conjunction with the M4A1 carbine. There has been a great deal of criticism that the Army is ignoring the M4 as it moves towards a next generation rifle. While that program promises a huge leap forward and capability, it is still many years off. It’s great to see the addressing addressing near term concerns, and jumping on board with a variable power optic.

The Army already has some experience with a 1-6x optic. Just a year ago it selected the SIG SAUER TANGO6 for use with the new Squad Designated Marksman variant of the 7.62mm M110A1 rifle, manufactured by H&K. The first 117 of just over 6000 rifles have already been fielded at Ft Bliss. The plan is to provide an M110A1 SDMR to every Infantry, Scout, and Combat Engineer Squads in the Army.

Additionally, the LTC Power provided an update on the M4A1 fielding. They have fielded 250,000 M4A1s in the last year, but the Army finds itself in a position to buy more. An additional contract will be let soon to provide carbines for the next several years. This allows the Army flexibility to procure new weapons to replace those which of been coded out and support sister service requirements as well as military sales, when needed. The Army is currently at 79% of its desired end state of M4A1 modernization and plans to complete the process by FY22.

Just one year ago, the Army announced plans to procure a Sub Compact Weapons for use by personal protective details. Not only did the Army conduct a full competition for these 9mm subguns, but it selected a solution, issued a contract and recently conducted new Equipment Training for the B&T APC9K.

Modular Handgun System fielding is picking up pace as the other services begin fielding along with the Army. As of right now, there are still 335,000 9mm pistols left to field. It is available in two variants, the standard sized M17 and the Compact M18 model.

On the M320A1 40mm grenade launcher side, the Army will soon issue an award for the new Grenadier Sighting System. It will provide day/night capability and facilitate use of a new airburst 40mm round currently under development. The Army has committed $30 million to the first delivery order of GSS. The Army also plans to let a new production contract for additional M320A1s which were designed by H&K but currently manufactured by CAPCOM in Colorado.

Last but not least, LTC Power is leaving PEO Soldier for a year at the Eisenhower School (formerly known as the Industrial College of the Armed Forces) at Ft McNair. He’s done a great job and overseen the fielding of several capabilities including the Modular Handgun System.