Tactical Tailor

Archive for the ‘PEO-Soldier’ Category

DoD IG Releases Report on Audit of the Army’s Integrated Visual Augmentation System

Wednesday, April 27th, 2022

The Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General has released their report on an audit to determine whether Army officials effectively managed the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) program to meet user needs.

IVAS is a $21.88 Billion program to field a militarized version of Microsoft’s HoloLens. Modifications were based on seven requirements that enhance the Soldier’s decisions and capabilities to execute combat tasks with speed and precision identified by the Soldier lethality cross-functional team: communication, lethality, mobility, protection, situational awareness, survivability, and training and human performance.

This program is so important to the Army that it even has its own Program Manager under PEO Soldier. During development PM IVAS used Soldier Centered Design during multiple testing events in the IVAS rapid prototyping phase. This process is intended to ensure that Soldier needs are considered when making design tradeoffs and production decisions.  A core metric is user acceptance.

Unfortunately, the IG found that program officials did not define minimum user acceptance levels to determine whether IVAS would meet user needs because Army policy does not require program officials to define suitable user acceptance levels.  

Consequently, the IG recommends that the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology) develop Army?wide policy requiring program officials to define suitable user acceptance measurements for testing and evaluation.

Furthermore, they also recommend that the Program Executive Officer Soldier define clear measures of user acceptance levels to meet user needs before Soldier Touch Point?5 testing of IVAS.  In addition, they recommend that the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology), as the decision authority for IVAS, verify whether the Program Executive Office Soldier meets established user acceptance measures and addresses Soldier?identified issues before IVAS production.

This should help satisfy those who feel that the program is moving too quickly, is technologically immature, or does not have Soldier buy-in.

Project Director Soldier & Squad Integration Helps Forge Relationship Between PEO Soldier and USASOC

Thursday, March 31st, 2022

FORT BELVOIR, VA – Project Director Soldier & Squad Integration (PD S&SI) hosted a side-by-side gear comparison between Project Executive Office (PEO) Soldier and U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) on Fort Belvoir, March 8-10.

PD S&SI held an event at the Soldier Integration Facility on Fort Belvoir, designed to provide a familiarization of selected items from Project Manager Soldier Survivability (PM SSV) and USASOC’s respective portfolios.

“We put the event together and facilitated bringing everyone in at the same time,” said Christopher Baker, survivability and power lead for the operational synchronization team for PD S&SI. “USASOC’s chain of command believed that they could realize some cost savings by leveraging the work that PEO Soldier is doing and what they’re fielding. The most interest and discussion were around the protective equipment, helmets and body armor, and the differences between what PEO Soldier fields and what USASOC has right now.”

Product Manager Soldier Protective Equipment (PdM SPE) displayed the modular scalable vest (MSV), the blast pelvic protector (BPP) and the ballistic combat shirt (BCS). SPE personnel went over the capability and functions of the MSV, BPP, BCS, their threat levels and the differences between the Enhanced Small Arms Protective Inserts (ESAPI) plates and the legacy ESAPI plates. The SPE presentation highlighted the Army’s focus on increasing protection but slimming down on weight.

“A lot of the questions we received were predominantly on sizing and the kinds of threats our plates stopped,” said Capt. Kim Pierre-Zamora, assistant product manager for PdM SPE. “For us, the key message we want to convey to our audience, especially the Special Forces community, is that not only are we scaling back on these extra areas of redundant coverage or parasitic weight, but we’re also able to scale up the coverage depending on what they’re doing, where they are, and their commander’s intent.”

“Not only are we looking to make Soldiers lighter and more mobile, but also more lethal. Because if they can move enough to avoid a threat, they can engage that much better.”

The gear comparison not only presented an opportunity for USASOC personnel to get their first hands-on look with gear currently fielded by PEO Soldier, but it allowed for in-depth discussion of what goes into developing and producing that equipment.

“From my perspective, especially working in Future Capabilities, it’s good to see where the Army is with their equipment,” said Lt. Col. Rachel Cepis, S8 Future Capabilities Director, 95th Civil Affairs Brigade. “At the tactical level, you hear Soldiers sometimes complain and say, ‘why is this like this?’ or ‘when are we going to get this?’ Therefore, it is good to be able to see what is out there and being developed. It’s going to be helpful for me to be able to pass that message on to other Soldiers.”

The gear comparison event was the first step in developing the relationship between PEO Soldier and USASOC, with the future collaboration already in the works. Within the next six months, a future follow-on event, hosted by USASOC, will be scheduled.

Story by Jason Amadi, PEO Soldier

PEO Soldier Issues Integrated Visual Augmentation System Program Update

Thursday, October 14th, 2021

FORT BELVOIR, VA – The Army decided to shift the IVAS Operational Test and fielding to a date later in FY22. The Army is fully committed to its partnership with Microsoft to advance specific technologies to meet operational requirements and maximize warfighter impact. The Army conducted an Adversarial Electronic Warfare and Cybersecurity Test in September 2021, and plans to execute testing regularly throughout FY22. This decision allows the Army and Industry team to continue to enhance the IVAS technology platform ensuring Soldiers achieve overmatch in Multi Domain Operations. The Army intends to continue developing and fielding this revolutionary, first-of-its-kind technology in FY22.

Project Timeline:

• OCT / NOV 2020: Soldier Touchpoint 3 (STP 3) & Distinguished Visitor Days

• DEC 2020: Rapid Fielding Decision

• JAN 2021: Vehicle Integration VE2 – Stryker & Bradley

• FEB 2021: Cold Weather Test

• MAR 2021: Production Award

• MAR 2021: Tropical Weather Test

• APR 2021: Soldier Touchpoint 4 (STP 4)

• JUL 2021: OT Entrance Criteria User Jury

• SEP 2021: Vehicle Integration VE3 – Bradley

• SEP 2021: Adversarial Electronic Warfare & Cybersecurity Test

• MAY 2022: Operational Test (IOT)

• SEP 2022: First Unit Equipped (FUE)


US Army Grants NGSW Novation from General Dynamics-OTS, Inc to LoneStar Future Weapons

Wednesday, September 1st, 2021

Something that has flown under the radar is that the US Army has granted a novation from Next Generation Squad Weapons contender General Dynamics-OTS, makers of the Bullpup configuration guns, to Lone Star Future Weapons.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, Novation means to transfer or substitute a new contract in place of an old one.

Upon request, I received the following statement regarding the action from Program Manager Soldier Lethality, Program Executive Office Soldier, which manages Product Manager Next Generation Weapons (PdM NGW).

“On 30 June 2021, Agreement W15QKN1991024, one of three Agreements supporting the Next Generation Squad Weapons Program for weapons and ammunition prototyping, was novated from: General Dynamics-OTS, Inc. to Lone Star Future Weapons (sic).”

An April press release form LoneStar and partner True Velocity announced a strategic partnership to leverage the two companies’ substantial expertise in R&D, precision manufacturing, quality control and production efficiency.

This is a significant event in the NGSW program. It means General Dynamics-OTS, Inc is out as the prime, along with production partner Beretta USA, and LoneStar Future Weapons along with ammunition partner True Velocity, is in. However, General Dynamics-OTS remains in an advisory role according to LTC Mark Owens (USA, Ret) who currently serves as the Chief Strategy Officer for True Velocity and Project Director at LoneStar Future Weapons whom I spoke with about the novation.

Owens said, “We are extremely excited to pursue the upcoming NGSW RFP. While General Dynamics has novated the contract to us, we will continue to work with their team to combine the best elements of a large company like GD, with the innovation and agility of Lone Star Future Weapons and True Velocity.”

Owens expanded on the significance of what they are doing, “Making something that has never existed before requires a lot of “different”. Different materials, different manufacturing processes, different weapon and ammunition geometries as well as different business relationships and constructs. Maintaining the status quo cannot provide our warfighters with compact, “fightable” weapon systems capable of defeating current and Next Generation threats. We are not different for the sake of being new. We are different in order to adapt to the rapidly changing battlefields of the future. Every piece of our weapon system componentry and ammunition combines the best of traditional technologies from battlefield proven systems with the most lethal, robust, compact and lightweight solutions available for a new, different, enhanced level of lethality.”

One of the big things for the team is that True Velocity has recently introduced commercial production of their composite ammunition in .308 WIN.

Hoping to see additional calibers in the future I asked Owens what might be in the wings and he mentioned a civilian 6.8 round for hunting. I explained that like most shooters, I don’t have any firearms which fire that caliber. He told me not to worry, that LoneStar would be introducing those as well to complement the ammo saying, “We also look forward to a commercial release of the 6.8 Rifle and ammunition for sporting purposes.” He went on to mention that they are working with industry partners to introduce firearms chambered for their 6.8 cartridge.

In addition to access to the NGSW firearm intellectual property, LoneStar is also moving forward with the GD-OTS Lightweight Medium Machine Gun design in 338 Norma Mag and is perusing the USSOCOM opportunity currently underway with SOFWERX. Owens concluded our discussion with, “In addition to the contract, IP for the NGSW R, AR, as well as for the .338 NM MG have conferred. We believe that these weapons will have an important place in both our Army and allied arsenals of the future.”

There’s a lot going on and it sounds like the NGSW novation is just the beginning for LoneStar Future Weapons and partner True Velocity.

CSASS Goes To War

Sunday, August 22nd, 2021

Paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division’s Immediate Response Force prepare personnel and equipment for a deployment to the U. S. Central Command Area of Operations. The Immediate Response Force is charged with remaining ready to answer the Nation’s call to deploy to anywhere in the world at a moments notice.

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

Saturday, April 17th, 2021


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.