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Archive for the ‘PEO-Soldier’ Category

Overwhelm the Enemy by Volume and Accuracy: A New Optic to Aid Mounted Machine Gunners

Saturday, April 17th, 2021

FORT BENNING, GA,   –  

Accuracy by volume has been a long-standing sarcastic remark towards the shooting style of machine gunners. However, that is about to change with the new Family of Weapons Sight – Crew Served (FWS-CS) machine gun optic that provides Soldiers increased accuracy and lethality by leveraging the most up to date weapon sight and wireless technology.

Project Manager Soldier Maneuver and Precision Targeting (PM SMPT) held a Soldier Touchpoint (STP) with Soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division in Fort Benning the last week of February. The Soldier feedback from the STP ensures end users are involved throughout the development of the FWS-CS and it has marked advancements in capability compared to legacy equipment.

“With a program as complex as ours, we need feedback early and often in order to ensure we get our machine gunners what they need in the final product,” said Maj. John Nikiforakis, PM SMPT Assistant Product Manager. “Mounted machine gunners have the difficult task of providing guidance to the crew, ensuring protection of their vehicle, and most importantly providing lethal effects on the enemy. The FWS-CS ensures that the gunners in turrets have the best optic for all battlefield conditions and one that mounts to any crew served weapon in the Army’s inventory.”

“We’re comparing shooting data from the current M145 Machine Gun Optic (MGO) to the FWS-CS to see if we can engage targets at unknown distances faster and more accurately,” said 1st Lt. Anthony Ramirez, 2-325, 82nd Airborne Division. “The biggest benefit of the FWS-CS is that there’s a built-in laser rangefinder and ballistic calculator, so it determines the range and adjusts the reticle. All we have to do is put the reticle on the target and engage.”

The FWS-CS is the first machine gun optic to utilize the ‘disturbed reticle’ technology. Along with calculating the range to the target, the ballistic calculator can adjust for air density and works with any of the Army’s current machine gun systems.

“Typically you have to walk your fire on target, but with the FWS-CS you have impact on the first burst,” said Sgt. Jose Perez, 2-325, 82nd Airborne Division. “It’s a really cool system that can be used with multiple firearms, including the M240, MK19, and .50 Cal.”

In addition to the disturbed reticle, the FWS-CS can be used day or night and in limited visibility conditions which provide Soldiers greater lethality on the battlefield.

“It is a day and thermal sight. So it allows us to operate in a multitude of environments and be able to engage under more conditions than the M145 is capable of,” said Ramirez. “It has the capability to look through fog and other inclement weather conditions that the old M145 wouldn’t be able to reach out and see.”

“It’s extremely awesome, like Call of Duty kind of equipment that usually just goes to elite units.”
PFC Brown,
2-325, 82nd Airborne Division

The FWS-CS utilizes long-wave thermal technology and a high-definition digital day display that provides users with an extremely detailed field of view and many options for customizing the reticle and display.

“The thermal and daytime displays are both extremely clear,” said Pfc. Benjamin Brown, 2-325, 82nd Airborne Division. “It’s customizable to the shooter’s preference, changes from white hot to black hot, there’s different reticle colors, and up to a 4x zoom which makes identifying and engaging targets faster and more accurate. I would love to have this in the field.”

“It allows you to discriminate targets based on what the individuals look like,” said Ramirez. “You can determine the target’s weapon system or if they’re wearing body armor.“

In addition to its stand-alone performance, the FWS-CS is one of many programs within PM SMPT to utilize wireless technology. The Intra-Soldier Wireless (ISW) system allows the FWS-CS to connect to a Helmet Mounted Display (HMD).

“You have an eyepiece attached to your helmet, so you don’t even have to be down behind the gun with your eye in the scope,” said Pfc. Jake Ongar, 2-325, 82nd Airborne Division. “You can look through the HMD to see what you’re shooting at while staying behind cover, I think it’s a pretty cool feature.”

The effort to integrate capabilities and drive weight reductions are part of Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier’s vision of treating the Soldier as an integrated combat platform.

When asked when the FWS-CS is planned to be fielded Nikiforakis said, “The first Soldiers will see the FWS-CS in FY23. We still have a few modifications to make and several more tests to meet the demands of gunners.”

“I think this weapons sight has the potential to drastically improve Soldier lethality,” said Ramierz. “Being able to engage the enemy faster and more accurately is going to allow us to overtake the enemy and accomplish our mission.”

By Justin Sweet PEO Soldier

IVAS Production Contract Award

Thursday, April 1st, 2021

FORT BELVOIR, VA – On 26 March 2021, the United States Army awarded Microsoft Corporation a fixed price production agreement to manufacture the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS).

This award transitions IVAS to production and rapid fielding to deliver next-generation night vision and situational awareness capabilities to the Close Combat Force (CCF) at the speed of relevance. The unique and innovative partnership between the Army and Microsoft accelerated prototype system development through the Soldier Centered Design approach to deliver an unprecedented system to our CCF.

The IVAS aggregates multiple technologies into an architecture that allows the Soldier to Fight, Rehearse, and Train using a single platform. The suite of capabilities leverages existing high-resolution night, thermal, and Soldier-borne sensors integrated into a unified Heads Up Display to provide the improved situational awareness, target engagement, and informed decision-making necessary to achieve overmatch against current and future adversaries. The system also leverages augmented reality and machine learning to enable a life-like mixed reality training environment so the CCF can rehearse before engaging any adversaries.

The Army’s partnership with Microsoft redefined the timeline for rapid development and production of a major defense program by taking advantage of the Middle Tier of Acquisition and Other Transaction authorities, and partnering with a non-traditional defense contractor that is an industry leader in developing innovative technology.

The partnership between the Army and Microsoft illustrates areas that the Department of Defense and industry can work together towards achieving modernization priorities in the interest of national security.

David Patterson, PEO Soldier Director of Public Affairs

“Sneak Peek” – US Army Family of Weapon Sights Sniper

Sunday, March 7th, 2021

PEO Soldier tweeted these photos of the developmental Family of Weapon Sights Sniper (FWS-S), which has languished in development hell for five years now.

These are the first publicly released photos yet of FWS-S which is still in the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase of acquisition. Once they complete the system, it will be a dedicated thermal sight for the Sniper community.

For those of you unfamiliar with DoD acquisition phases, the EMD phase is where a system is developed and designed before going into production. The goal is to complete the development of a system or increment of capability, complete full system integration, develop affordable and executable manufacturing processes, complete system fabrication, and test and evaluate the system before proceeding into the Production and Deployment (PD) Phase.

Military Overwhites Put to the Test at Tobyhanna Army Depot

Monday, February 22nd, 2021

Tobyhanna Army Depot, PA —

Data collected at Tobyhanna Army Depot will help improve specialty uniforms for U.S. Army Soldiers and Marines.

The depot hosted four government entities in late January in support of an ongoing study to assess the effectiveness of military overwhite uniforms. Also called “snow camouflage,” the attire is designed to conceal soldiers from an array of sensors in different snow environments.

Tobyhanna was selected as a data collection site after analysis by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers found that the depot’s terrain resembled potential combat environments in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. Other sites included in the study were Camp Dawson in West Virginia and Fort Drum in New York.

The study team was comprised of representatives from the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD), Product Manager Soldier Clothing and Individual Equipment (PM-SCIE) and Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier. Those involved commended Team Tobyhanna’s hospitality.

“Tobyhanna’s support was phenomenal. Everything went right – the weather conditions were perfect and we captured the exact data we needed. The Tobyhanna team went above and beyond,” said Clay Williamson, the future programs officer at PEO Soldier.

The study’s mission was to capture imagery of the uniforms in locales that were similar to areas where future battles may occur. The imagery will then be used in an experiment to determine success of the uniforms’ “signature mitigation properties”. Called a “probability of detection study,” the test is similar to a scientific version of ‘Where’s Waldo?” according to technical lead Jacob Quartuccio, PhD. Hundreds of Soldiers will view the imagery taken at the three locations and indicate if they can “find” the person wearing the overwhite uniform. Results from the study will be used for future product development and procurement.

Depot personnel say they were happy to accommodate such an important mission.

“Team Tobyhanna is ready, willing and able to support Soldier requirements of all kinds. We’re here when the Soldier needs us,” said Edward Kovaleski, an architect in the Installation Services Directorate.

Tobyhanna Army Depot is a recognized leader in providing world-class logistics support for command, control, communications, computers, cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C5ISR) systems across the Department of Defense. Tobyhanna’s Corporate Philosophy, dedicated work force and electronics expertise ensure the depot is the Joint C5ISR provider of choice for all branches of the Armed Forces and industry partners.

Tobyhanna’s unparalleled capabilities include full-spectrum logistics support for sustainment, overhaul and repair, fabrication and manufacturing, engineering design and development, systems integration, post production software support, technology insertion, modification, foreign military sales and global field support to our joint warfighters.

About 4,000 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command. Headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, the command’s mission is to empower the Soldier with winning C5ISR capabilities.

By Ms. Danielle E. Weinschenk

US Army Integrated Visual Augmentation System Mounted Amplifies Capabilities

Friday, February 19th, 2021

“IVAS is more than just a goggle, it’s changing the way we fight.”
– MAJ Kevin Smith, PM IVAS Platform Integration DRI

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCORD, WA – The Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) is being developed to address capability gaps in the dismounted close combat force identified by Army leadership via the 2018 National Defense Strategy. The intent is to integrate key technology systems into one device to provide a single platform for Soldiers to fight, rehearse, and train.

IVAS looks at the Soldier as a weapons system, carefully balancing weight and Soldier load with its enhanced capabilities. Therefore, the Army is looking to amplify the impact of one dismounted Soldier equipped with IVAS and apply its capability set to mounted platforms as well.

“Up until this point IVAS has really been focused on the dismounted Soldiers and getting that fighting goggle right,” said MAJ Kevin Smith, C5ISR Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Direction (NVESD) Research and Development Coordinator and PM IVAS Platform Integration Directly Responsible Individual (DRI). “So in parallel, we in the Night Vision Electronic Sensors Directorate have been working to build-in applications to leverage both new and existing sensors on the vehicles to give the Soldier not just enhanced visual situational awareness, but also C2 [Command and Control] situational awareness while they’re inside of a platform or vehicle.”

The integrated team made up of Project Manager IVAS, Soldier Lethality Cross Functional Team (SL CFT), NVESD and C5ISR Prototype Integration Facility (PIF), PM Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT), PM Bradley, Army Capability Manager Stryker (ACM-S) and Bradley (ACM-B), and industry partners came together at Joint Base Lewis-McCord to tackle how to best amplify the capabilities of IVAS onto vehicle platforms.

“In the past, as the Soldier in the back who’s going to actually be dismounting on the objective you may have a single screen to look at that can maybe toggle between the driver’s view or the commander’s view, or the gunners view, or perhaps you’re looking through periscope blocks or asking the crew themselves what is actually happening around you,” said SFC Joshua Braly, SL CFT. “But overall when you are buttoned up in the back of a platform you have very limited situational awareness to what you’re walking into.”

Beyond the original problem set, IVAS is looking to be applied to an additional capability gap in order to allow the mounted and dismounted Soldier to maintain both C2 and visual situational awareness seamlessly across Army vehicle platforms.

Soldiers from 1-2 SBCT and 3rd Infantry Division joined the multi-dimensional team to learn IVAS and provide feedback on what would be most operationally effective as the technology integrates onto larger platforms.

SOLDIER EXPERIENCE

“I struggled when I was a squad leader getting out of the bay not knowing where I was because we get dropped at different spots in the op order,” said SGT John Martin, Bradley Master Gunner from 3rd Infantry Division. “Not having information on the ground was definitely a challenge that tripped us up.”

The squads took turns in the Stryker and Bradley vehicles testing each camera view and function, power management, communications, and the ease of mounting and dismounting with the IVAS. The Soldiers quickly saw that the capabilities being developed for dismounted Soldiers via IVAS are amplified by integrating the system into platforms using World View, 360 degree, and See capabilities that leverage the view of external sensors to be transmitted to the Heads Up Display (HUD) of each individual Soldier.

“There’s always a line between the squads and the tracks, and having this equipment is going to help tie them in so the dismounts in the back can see the actual optics of the vehicle itself and then they can seamlessly work with the crew because everyone can see around the vehicle without actually having to step outside of it,” said Martin. “It has countless uses like land navigation, being able to track things while on the battlefield, moving through urban complexes, moving through open terrain, it’s insane.”

Each Soldier with IVAS can “see through” the vehicle to what its external sensors are feeding into the individual HUDs, as if the vehicle has invisible armor. Soldiers with the Stryker Brigade Combat Team understood the implications to not only C2 situational awareness management and safety, but also overall lethality of the force.

“This changes how we operate honestly,” said SGT Philip Bartel with 1-2 SBCT. “Now guys aren’t hanging out of vehicles in dangerous situations trying to get views on what’s going on. Leadership will be able to maneuver their elements and get view-on-target without having to leave the safety of their armored vehicles. Maneuvering elements with that kind of information will minimize casualties and will overall drastically change how we operate and increase our effectiveness on the battlefield.”

“The fact that we are going to be more lethal on the ground, the fact that we won’t be losing as many guys because everyone can see and track the same information, the capabilities and possibilities and implications of this technology are endless,” added Martin.

SOLDIER CENTERED DESIGN

Soldier Centered Design is a driving principle of IVAS technology development. It calls for the Soldier and squad to be understood and developed as a comprehensive weapons system and prioritizes Soldier feedback. By addressing operational capability gaps with a holistic view, it allows the physical interface and load requirements of Soldiers to be better managed and balanced while integrating leap ahead technology to increase lethality on the battlefield.

“Right now the technology is in prototype phase, so we’re getting some really good feedback from actual Soldiers here on the ground today that we can take back and make some critical improvements with, which is awesome,” said Smith. “The reason why we do this is because these requirements need to be generated from the bottom up, not from the top down. So enlisting Soldier feedback is really important to us so that we understand what they need and what their requirements are.”

The program is revolutionizing the way that acquisition requirements are generated. Though engineers and industry experts have always been dedicated to develop effective products to meet Soldier needs through requirements, best practices have now shown that requirements should be developed hand in hand with and by the end user.

“Whereas before requirements were generated, in my opinion, inside of silos, we really need the Soldier’s feedback in order to generate a proper requirement that’s best for the Soldier, period,” said Braly. “It’s really important because we can’t build something that Soldiers are not going use. We have to get that feedback from Soldiers, listen to Soldiers, and implement that feedback. Then it becomes a better product for the Soldier, and they’re going to want to use it. If they don’t want to use it, they won’t, and it’s all for nothing.”

FUTURE OF IVAS

The event was another step towards developing IVAS, which was recently approved to move from rapid prototyping to production and rapid fielding in an effort to deliver next generation capabilities to the close combat force at the speed of relevance.

“One of the goals of IVAS was that it’s going to be a fighting goggle as well as a training goggle and we are 100% attempting to bring both to reality,” said Braly. “This is one of those key moments in our military’s history where we’re able to look back and acknowledge that we’re not where we want to be and we’re willing to make bold strides to get there. IVAS is without question an effort to do that, and we’re working diligently every day to make this a reality.”

Team IVAS continues to iterate the hardware and software prototype towards the Operational Test planned for July 2021 and FUE in 4QFY21.

“This is something that none of us imaged we would see in our careers,” said Martin. “It’s futuristic technology that we’ve all talked about and seen in movies and video games, but it’s something that we never imaged we would have the chance to fight with. It’s definitely technology that we are really excited to use as soon as they can get it to us.”

Story by Courtney Bacon, PEO Soldier

Soldier Center’s New Capability Streamlines Munition Fragmentation Data Collection

Wednesday, February 17th, 2021

NATICK, Mass. – The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, or DEVCOM, Soldier Center, working in conjunction with academia and industry, has developed the Fragmentation Rapid Analysis Generator using Computed Tomography, or FRAG-CT.

“FRAG-CT supports the Army Chief of Staff’s priority to better protect the warfighter in current and future combat situations,” said Lisa King-Schiappa, the Protection Technology Development team lead in the Protection Systems Division, Soldier Protection Directorate, at the DEVCOM Soldier Center.

King-Schiappa explained that the “FRAG-CT analysis tool has matured into a stand-alone Graphical User Interface, or GUI, that streamlines the gathering of valuable munition fragmentation data from indirect fire arena tests.”

The method produces a data file of the munition fragmentation characteristics along with a data file used for armor design and also distinct 3D files of each individually scanned fragments for follow-on future analysis. FRAG-CT makes it possible to process arena test bundles up to 200 times faster than current hand-count methods. This new methodology can decrease bundle analysis time from months to hours.

“Timely, accurate and repeatable evaluation of indirect fire threats are critical for developing new armor designs and expeditionary protection systems,” said King-Schiappa. “FRAG-CT is the solution to time-consuming and unreliable fragment hand-count data.”

“The FRAG-CT analysis tool streamlines the gathering of munition data,” said Tom Reynolds, Protection Systems Division leader, Soldier Protection Directorate, DEVCOM Soldier Center. “This tool is less time-consuming and more reliable than other methods and will aid in the development of improved armor design.”

To develop FRAG-CT, the Soldier Center collaborated with a number of agencies, along with its development partner Compotech, headquartered in Brewer, Maine, and a CT scanning expert at the University of Maine.

“The collaboration with the National Ground Intelligence Agency, DEVCOM Army Research Lab, DEVCOM Data Analysis Center, DEVCOM Armament Center, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Compotech and UMaine was significant in the development of FRAG-CT,” said King-Schiappa. “The team was comprised of subject matter experts in the fields of threat assessment, munition exploitation, armor design, CT scanning and expeditionary ballistics – these critical aspects support the rapid development of an improved methodology for armor design.”

In addition to protective equipment, FRAG-CT may also aid in munition development.

“Warhead development is an iterative process from design to prototype to testing and back to design,” said Henry Hsieh, mechanical engineer, DEVCOM Armament Center. “This process is often cost prohibitive due to the time and labor required to collect and analyze vast amounts of data after a destructive warhead event. The FRAG-CT technology has the potential to minimize or even eliminate the laborious process of manually picking, cleaning, weighing and sorting tens of thousands of fragments after each warhead test, drastically reducing labor cost as well as data turn-around time. With this technology in place, warhead developers can rapidly and confidently design munitions adapted for our next generation of warfighters.”

Data collection and analysis play an all-important role in DEVCOM Soldier Center’s commitment to advancing capabilities and technologies for the Soldier.

King-Schiappa noted that software technology and analysis capabilities associated with FRAG-CT will also help address mission priorities that emphasize increased maneuver and lightweight expeditionary ballistic protection — thus, delivering protective expeditionary maneuver systems and Mission Command Technologies into Soldiers’ hands more quickly to increase warfighter readiness.

“Threats of interest are ever changing,” said King-Schiappa. “The Army is working diligently to narrow the capability gaps that affect Soldiers and enable the rapid delivery of capabilities to the warfighter. FRAG-CT enforces the aspect of rapid delivery for ongoing threat characterization work.”

The DEVCOM Soldier Center is transferring the software technology and the analysis capability to both the DEVCOM Army Research Laboratory and DEVCOM Armament Center.

DEVCOM SC, DEVCOM ARL, and DEVCOM AC have signed a software use agreement, or SUA, that is emplaced for work to support both arena-test methodologies and water-test methodologies using FRAG-CT. This GUI and upgraded test methodology will enable DEVCOM AC and DEVCOM ARL to process arena- and water-test data with greater accuracy, speed and repeatability.

“FRAG-CT is a state-of-the-art software package that allows the user to quickly and accurately process large amounts of fragment data under one platform,” said Justin Pritchett, a mechanical engineer at the DEVCOM Army Research Laboratory. “It has a multiple-input, multiple-output capability that supports data input from different types of fragmenting munition experiments and outputs various data formats for modeling and simulation codes. This technology advancement will drive how we process and collect large data sets in the future.”

King-Schiappa explained that the methodology and GUI may also feed modeling and analysis efforts tied to software such as the Advanced Joint Effectiveness Model, or AJEM. AJEM is a survivability, lethality, and vulnerability computer simulation code that is capable of analyzing one or more threats attacking one or more rotary-wing or fixed-wing aircraft, small watercraft, ground-mobile system, and mounted or dismounted personnel.

Mike Maffeo, a senior engineer on the Ballistic and Blast Protection Team, Protection Materials Division, Soldier Protection Directorate at the Soldier Center, explained that there are other models in addition to the AJEM model that can also use this data, including a casualty software called the Integrated Casualty Estimation Methodology, or ICEM, model.

Maffeo, who serves as the model manager for ICEM, explained that ICEM was developed specifically to model dismounted soldiers and the body armor they are wearing.

Maffeo believes that FRAG-CT is an important innovation in fragmentation data collection and analysis.

“FRAG?CT looks to be a real game changer in getting new fragment files quickly for armor assessment and vulnerability analysis,” said Maffeo. “With all the data that is being collected by FRAG?CT, it opens opportunities to increase the fidelity of the modeling and analysis. Some of these newer munitions have asymmetric (non?symmetric) burst patterns that are difficult to model without the right data. FRAG?CT should allow us to get this type of data quickly.”

In the future, FRAG-CT may also have applications for Elastic Plastic Impact Computation, or EPIC, and beyond.

By Jane Benson, DEVCOM Soldier Center Public Affairs

Thank You Mr David Geringer for Your Years of Service to the Soldier!

Monday, February 1st, 2021

Congratulations to Mr. David Geringer on his retirement after decades of service to the Army.

Mr. Geringer served 22 years as a Soldier, then began his civilian career as Assistant Product Manager, Soldier Clothing and Individual Equipment (SCIE), then served as Deputy Product Manager, SCIE and Supervisory Logistics Management Specialist for Headquarters, PEO Soldier.

Thanks for all of your hard work! Good luck on your second retirement.

Soldier Integration Facility in Action

Friday, December 18th, 2020

Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston and other senior enlisted leaders run through a synthetic training environment at PEO Soldier’s Soldier Integration Facility (SIF) at Fort Belvoir.