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Author: Subject: U.S.Army 2017 0nwards
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[*] posted on 31-1-2020 at 05:32 PM


Bumps in the Road May Lie Ahead for JLTV Procurement

1/30/2020

By Yasmin Tadjdeh


Photo: Defense Dept.

The joint light tactical vehicle is one of the military’s largest vehicle acquisition initiatives, but budget uncertainty may affect how many platforms the Defense Department ultimately chooses to purchase.

When the Army and Marine Corps originally selected Oshkosh Defense as the winner of the lucrative JLTV program, the Army indicated it would purchase nearly 50,000 platforms and the Marine Corps would pick up about 5,500.

The contract was a boon for Oshkosh and was hotly contested among industry as vehicle procurement slumped following the U.S. military drawdown in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But with the Army focusing on its top six modernization priorities, and the Marine Corps intending to become more expeditionary, questions have arisen about what the future holds for the joint light tactical vehicle.

Last year, Army leadership said it planned to cut funding for a number of programs, including the JLTV, as it pursues its top modernization priorities.

George Mansfield, vice president and general manager of joint programs at Oshkosh, said while the Defense Department has slowed down its procurement of the vehicle, it has not altered its approved acquisition objective of 49,099 vehicles.

“I think things will be OK. They have not changed their AAO,” he said in an interview. “They did slow us down slightly in the budget this year ... but we’re not scared of anything there.”

Oshkosh utilizes a flexible production line that allows different products and variants to be built off it, so the company is not worried about the slowdown negatively affecting its workflow, he said.

Mark Cancian, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, said despite the Army slowing its purchase of JLTVs, the program is safe from termination.

“As a program it’s very solid,” he said. “It’s not going to get canceled. We’re going to buy a lot of them. The question is just how many and how quickly.”

For now, it appears that the program will be continuing at a “fair clip,” he said, and the vehicle will still be important to the service’s overall mission.

“The Army is focused on sustained ground land combat and JLTV fits with that,” he said. “It was squeezed as part of Night Court to free up money for new initiatives, but I don’t get the sense that that the Army ... [finds anything about] the concept that is a problem.”

Army leadership coined the term “Night Court” to refer to its process of examining programs across the board to realign funding toward the service’s top modernization priorities.

How the JLTV program will be affected in the upcoming budget cycle remains to be seen. During an event at the Brookings Institution, Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy declined to comment on how the effort would fare in President Donald Trump’s fiscal year 2021 budget request, which is expected to be released in early February.

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Tom Spoehr, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Center for National Defense, said the service is under great financial pressure to free up funding for its modernization priorities.

“They’re having to go to places where the money is … [and the] JLTV is a program that has and had a lot of money in it,” he said.
However, it is unlikely that any platforms will be cut in the 2021 budget, he said.

“I would be surprised if when we get the fiscal year ’21 budget, if they have reduced the acquisition objective,” he said. “I think that number is sound.”

While the total procurement may be stretched out, the JLTV still has a bright future, he said.

Improvised explosive devices — which have maimed and killed thousands of servicemembers and civilians in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — are going to continue to be a part of any future battlefield the Army fights in, he said. “We’re going to need more protection than we had with the Humvee,” he added.
However, anytime a program slows down its production rate, that can increase costs, Spoehr said.

“I would like to see the Army buy what they need and then stop the program,” he said. “That would be cheaper in the long run.”
For the Marine Corps, recent comments by Commandant Gen. David Berger may signal that the service intends to curtail its JLTV purchase.

Speaking to reporters at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California, Berger said the service is looking to divest itself of legacy systems as it works to become more expeditionary following years of land warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We have to get rid of legacy things in the Marine Corps,” he said. “We’ve got to go on a diet. We’ve got to get back on ship. We’ve got to become expeditionary again.”

The service plans to shuck off large, heavy systems that cannot fit aboard ships and that are expensive. The service also wants to invest more in unmanned platforms. Cancian noted that could be problematic for the joint light tactical vehicle.

There is “a high probability that JLTV would not fit his vision and therefore would be reduced,” he said. “I don’t see the Marine Corps canceling the program, but I could see them reducing the procurement quantity.”

It is possible that the public will get a first look at how Berger’s vision will play out with the vehicles in the upcoming proposed 2021 budget. However, it may not be until the spring that the plan is fully fleshed out.

Spoehr agreed that Berger’s vision for the Marine Corps may spell bad news for the JLTV within the service.

“They’re not going to drop out of the program,” he said. “They still have a need for that type of vehicle. But given the need to operate from ships, … I think that’s fair to say that they might look to that program and ... either stretch it out or reduce their annual projected buys.”

However, Mansfield said the company isn’t concerned. “I think the JLTV actually fits into what Gen. Berger’s … vision is very, very well,” he said.

Mansfield also noted that the Marine Corps has consistently increased how many vehicles it plans to purchase.

“The Marine Corps is signaling to us that they want actually more trucks than we initially thought,” he said.

Oshkosh is working on autonomy packages that could make the joint light tactical vehicle unmanned and increase its utility, he noted.

The company is currently developing and testing technology that could give the platforms such capability, but there isn’t a specific timeline for when those would be ready, he said.

Autonomy does have its challenges, he added. “When you ruggedize it for military use it’s different than Teslas running down a highway in the sun. We’re running in an environment that’s got a lot of dust and mud.”

However, despite what happens with the Army and Marine Corps, Oshkosh is expanding its gaze to the other armed services as well as to allied foreign militaries.

In December, Army Contracting Command in Warren, Michigan, placed an $803.9 million order for 2,721 joint light tactical vehicles. That included vehicles for the Navy and Air Force, as well as 30 systems to the country of Montenegro via a foreign military sale.

Mansfield believes there is a great opportunity to continue to sell JLTVs to the Air Force and Navy.

“We’re looking at different modules to put on the vehicles” that could appeal to those services, he said.

Last year, the company debuted two new variants of the platform, a command-and-control unit and an ambulance, which it thinks will be attractive options, Mansfield said.

The company is also looking to expand its presence abroad. It currently has potential foreign military sales on the horizon with Slovenia, Lithuania and the United Kingdom. The deal for 30 platforms to Montenegro has been approved.

“There are quite a few … allied nations that are now looking to buy JLTV and they’re in the process of the FMS system,” he said. “Once we got the full-rate production decision this summer that sort of opened up the gates for foreign military sales, and so we’re seeing a lot of interest there.”

Speaking to National Defense in September during the Defence and Security Equipment International conference in London, Mike Ivy, senior vice president and general manager of international programs at Oshkosh, said the company was eyeing European customers.

“We are working several opportunities, both FMS and direct commercial possibilities here on the continent,” Ivy said.

Oshkosh has demonstrated the JLTV in Sweden and is seeking business with Northern European nations, he noted. “We think that there’s a good deal more interest there.”

However, with a glut of indigenous truck and vehicle manufacturers in the region, there is stiff competition.

“The European market is a very difficult market to crack because there are excellent truck makers and vehicle makers in Europe,” he said.

But Oshkosh is confident that no other manufacturer can match the JLTV’s mobility over complex terrain, the protection offered in the platform’s weight class and its overall reliability, Ivy said.

Spoehr noted that while there has been interest from allied nations in the platform, the JLTV is not an inexpensive system. It is likely that interested parties would purchase dozens, or perhaps hundreds of the vehicles at the most, but that would not be significant enough to drastically lower the price of the system.

— Additional reporting by Jon Harper
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[*] posted on 5-2-2020 at 09:34 AM


Israel-based SCD tailors shortwave infrared options for US armed forces

Carlo Munoz, Washington, DC - Jane's International Defence Review

04 February 2020

Israel-based infrared sensing and imaging company SCD has been working to tailor its shortwave infrared (SWIR) sensor and imagery offerings to meet standing and future US military requirements, particularly in the areas of persistent surveillance and unmanned applications.

“We see more and more a demand for [infrared] applications coming from requirements for persistent surveillance, border security ... counter UAS [unmanned aircraft system] threat detection, and protection, all which require more and more infrared sensors across all platforms” from man-portable systems to strategic, air-based intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) assets, SCD’s vice-president for Marketing & Business development Kobi Zaushnizer said.

SCD officials have seen increased demands from the Pentagon for SWIR cameras and sensors to produce high-definition imagery, coupled with “special requirements” such as see-spot capability, which enables ISR operators to see a laser designator marker through a forward-looking infrared (FLIR) or SWIR camera or sensor, Zaushnizer told Jane’s on 23 January.

(176 of 741 words)
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[*] posted on 6-2-2020 at 12:55 PM


Here are the Pentagon’s issues with the Army’s new command post set-up

By: Mark Pomerleau   5 hours ago


The Pentagon's weapon tester criticized some aspects of the Army's new command post system. The Army says that many of those issues have been since fixed. (Army)

The Army’s new command post tool received lukewarm results from the Pentagon’s weapon testers, though the Army asserts that deficiencies have been fixed.

In its annual report, the Director Operational Test and Evaluation office, or DOT&E, stated that the Army needed to make several improvements to the Command Post Computing Environment in the way of software, hardware, cybersecurity and maintainability.

CPCE is a web-enabled system that will consolidate current mission systems and programs into a single-user interface.

The DOT&E report assessed that CPCE was not operationally effective, suitable or survivable in a cyber-contested environment. While soldiers found the CPCE concept to be an improvement over existing systems, the report notes that CPCE didn’t support leaders and soldiers with sufficient scalability, collaboration or operations management.

DOT&E recommended the Army improve hardware and software on CPCE to address deficiencies, improve cybersecurity, demonstrate joint and coalition interoperability and improve training as a means of improving maintainability that will decrease reliance on contractors in the field.

The Army has maintained that the approach it is using for CPCE — an agile and development operations approach in which software and fixes are iterated in an evolving manner — means that CPCE will always be improving based on upon user feedback gained through operational and developmental testing.

“We tested a version of Command Post Computing Environment last fall; by the time the test report was written we iterated it four times. Even between now and what we will deliver in the Defender ’20 next year to the 1st Cavalry Division, we’re going to turn the crank again and make that software even better," Maj. Gen. David Bassett, Program Executive Officer for Command, Control, Communication-Tactical, told reporters in October.

The Army also told C4ISRNET that it has fixed the majority of the issues DOT&E identified in its report.

In November 2019, the Army conducted a follow on developmental test to address concerns with software sustainability and coordinated the test with DOT&E, Paul Mehney, director of public communications for PEO C3T, told C4ISRNET.

Servers have been replaced, enabling greater capacity for CPCE. Those upgraded servers will be fielded to units going to Europe for Defender 2020, which will also be used to gain useful insights and improvements for CPCE.

The Army has also upgraded the software referenced in the report, maintaining the software is now stable.

CPCE is slated to be formally included as part of the first delivery of the Army’s modernized network kit to four infantry brigades under what’s known as capability set 2021.
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[*] posted on 6-2-2020 at 02:09 PM


JUST IN: Army Catching Up With Industry on 3D Printing

2/4/2020

By Connie Lee


Photo: iStock

The Army’s push to incorporate additive manufacturing technologies into its supply chain is making progress, according to a top service official.

“Three years ago when I started on this adventure, I would tell you that industry was way ahead of us,” said Gen. Gus Perna, head of Army Materiel Command. “My personal opinion is that the United States Army — based on support from Army senior leaders — has caught up.”

The service has been pushing to adopt 3D printing to create equipment parts quickly. Last year, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy issued a memorandum detailing how the service plans to pursue the capability.

It wants to be able to deliver parts on demand rather than mimic industry's manufacturing processes, Perna told reporters Feb. 4 during a breakfast in Washington, D.C.

“I don't want their supply chain,” he said. “I don't want to replicate it. I want to be able to influence and react to readiness drivers that are needed on the battlefield in timely manners" and meet surge requirements using additive manufacturing, he added.

A key part of this effort will be obtaining the intellectual property for repair parts, he noted.

“The days of ‘Hey, we made this truck for you, we own all the intellectual property' — that needs to go away,” he said. “I just need the government purpose rights, the rights to produce capability for the equipment that we bought.”

Perna said the service’s new 3D-printing hub at Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois, will serve as the foundation for the Army's additive manufacturing enterprise. The facility reached initial operating capability in May of last year and is slated for full operating capability in 2021. Selected work will be carried out by depots, other arsenals and manufacturing plants.

The Army is also conducting limited testing at the division level to see how the capability can be used tactically. The service wants to have machines prepped to provide parts for equipment that breaks down regularly, he noted.

“I want to know how it's going to be used out in the battlefield,” he said. “I don't want to send million-dollar capability out there to make door handles or replica coins or ashtrays. I want to lead us through this.”

The next step is to create the "digital thread," which will help connect the depots, arsenals and Army units so that they can securely pass around drawings for equipment and parts. The service is working with academia on this technology, Perna noted.

“I've got a group of people going to a university right now because I think they have the solution to my digital thread,” he said without identifying the school. “I am dogpiling. I'm sending contracting folks up there, acquisition folks up there. … I’m sliding pizzas under the door until they have a solution.”
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[*] posted on 6-2-2020 at 02:14 PM


Editor's Notes: A High-Profile OTA Program Goes Off the Rails

2/4/2020

By Stew Magnuson


Image: Army

It had to happen at some point. A high-profile, big-ticket Army program using an other transaction authority agreement has turned into a fiasco.

In December, the Army Contracting Command announced it was canceling and resoliciting a contract issued in October to manufacture hundreds of robotic mules. This is bad news.

For critics of the Army’s acquisition system, it’s another example of the service’s poor record over the last 20 to 30 years of developing and fielding new weapon systems. While Army leadership say they are going to speed procurement of badly needed technology to take on “great powers” — this is a black mark and will certainly get the attention of Congress.

And the same goes for proponents of other transaction authority agreements — touted as a way to put new technology into the hands of warfighters faster by forgoing the traditional acquisition system.

The program in question is the squad multipurpose equipment transport, or SMET, the Army’s answer to helping dismounted troops lighten their loads. This so-called robotic mule has been on the service’s wish list dating back to the Future Combat Systems program, which was canceled in 2009.

After years of development, field tests and the validation of requirements, the Army decided to proceed with a development program in 2017. That coincided with the emergence of the enhanced other transaction authority, or OTA.

OTAs had been around for decades. But the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act tweaked the law and allowed the military to change how they were used in several important ways. The agreements allow contractors to go around the cumbersome Federal Acquisition Regulation to develop prototypes and transition them to new capabilities.

Previously, they were reserved mostly for small businesses, universities and “nontraditional defense contractors” to build prototypes. That restriction was relaxed and the primes can now compete for the contracts as long as they had some participation from the “smalls,” participate through a consortium, or if a senior procurement official proclaims that there were “exceptional circumstances.”

But the real attraction for contracting officers is the ability to take a prototype developed under an OTA and move it to a production contract, as long as there is a competition to see who has the best product.

OTAs in the military jumped from 34 prototype contracts in 2016 to 173 in 2018, according to the Government Accountability Office. SMET was one of the most high-profile OTA programs with PEO combat support and combat service support leading the effort.

It put 10 vehicles through operational tests, then whittled that number down to four systems. It awarded four companies OTA agreements to develop 20 vehicles apiece.

The four companies were: General Dynamics Land Systems; Textron, with a vehicle developed by a company it acquired, Howe & Howe; an Applied Research Associates/Polaris Government and Defense team; and HDT Global.

Those robots were put through the paces and assessed last year. The result was a contract award to General Dynamics Land Systems for $162 million. The Army wants to buy more than 600 of the robots at a price of about $100,000 each.

Textron immediately protested the award.

Details are sketchy at press time — mostly because the principals involved such as Textron, General Dynamics and PEO CS&CSS have declined requests to be interviewed.

We do know that Army Contracting Command in December declared the contract null and void prior to GAO having a chance to make a ruling. A copy of the command’s email making the announcement was sent to National Defense by one of the aggrieved losers in the competition.

A new request for proposals were due in January and the email said a contract award was expected in April, meaning the Army isn’t starting from square one and wants to mitigate further delays.

The competitor’s email made several allegations that have not been independently confirmed, but it claimed the Army found “deep bias toward GD.”

It also provided data from the four vehicles in a variety of performance categories, some of them showing General Dynamics’ entry lagging in several important ones.

The competitor alleges that GD’s follow-on contract allowed for several alterations to make up for the deficiencies. That is not allowed under an OTA and rendered the 2019 evaluation moot as soldiers were not able to test the new version.

Again, readers can take this with a grain of salt as these allegations come from an aggrieved party. Yet, we have the undeniable fact that Army Contracting Command took another look at the contract and decided to cancel it rather than letting GAO make a final ruling.

We are left with several questions. To what extent is the OTA process at fault? It has been stated in this column before: What Congress giveth, Congress can taketh away. If the OTA acquisition vehicle ends up producing junk, or worse, technology that puts warfighters’ lives at risk, then that’s a big problem.

Second, the Army is speeding ahead with modernization and has set up Futures Command to help it get there. Leaders have said they have put the service’s acquisition woes behind them. Have they really? Just as the magazine was about to go to press, the Army announced it had to go back to the drawing board on its optionally manned fighting vehicle, which is its third attempt at replacing the Bradley. It only had one bidder, meaning it couldn’t hold a prototype competition as planned.
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[*] posted on 8-2-2020 at 03:19 PM


Army wades back into effort to replace Bradley vehicle

By: Jen Judson   10 hours ago


A Bradley Fighting Vehicle with C Company, 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, charges forward during a training exercise on Udari Range Complex near Camp Buehring, Kuwait, Oct. 17, 2017. The infantry unit conducted a platoon mounted and dismounted assault on an objective, an exercise that better prepares it to certify for future deployments after it returns to the U.S. (Sgt. David L. Nye/Army)

WASHINGTON — The Army is wading back into an effort to replace the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle with the release of a market survey on Feb. 7, tapping industry for ideas on what a future Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) might look like.

After receiving only one bid in its previous attempt to develop and procure the OMFV and subsequently deciding to cancel the existing solicitation last month, the Army has a new plan to move forward that seeks to avoid some of the pitfalls encountered during its first try.

The market survey itself asks companies to weigh in on what affected their decisions to participate, or not, in the previous OMFV competitive effort and how the Army might better engage with industry this time around.

Instead of a laundry list of requirements that when paired together became unachievable — especially when delivered over an ambitious fielding goal of 2026 — the Army will be giving industry roughly nine characteristics, each of which will be laid out simply enough to take up just a page-and-a-half including a signature block, Army Futures Command Commander Gen. Mike Murray told a group of reporters at the Pentagon shortly before the release of the survey.

The Army had previously laid out requirements such as the need to transport two vehicles in a C-17, for example, which turned out to be a difficult ask to industry within the timeline the Army was pushing.

While the list of characteristics did not post with the market survey, Murray said the vehicle will have to protect soldiers, keep pace in a combined arms formation, be able to upgrade over time through open architecture, and be capable of growth without significant weight increases. It also must be lethal, and able to traverse bridges and main supply routes.

Additionally, the vehicle should be transportable by rail, air or sea, and crew members have to fit in the back. An on-board training system would also be nice, Murray said, adding that the Army wants to take a look at different options for power and energy sources.

Murray also stressed the document outlining the characteristics would change as the Army learned more down the road.

Not required of industry will be physical bid samples as it previously requested. Only General Dynamics Land Systems was able to deliver a bid sample, but it did not meet all the requirements the service had laid out.

Defense News first broke the news that a Raytheon-Rheinmetall team was unable to get its Lynx combat vehicle to the United States from Germany in time and was subsequently disqualified and that BAE Systems, the incumbent, wouldn’t participate in the competition either.

The ability to see what was possible from a technology and integration standpoint “was important to us and so I wouldn’t say it was a mistake," Murray said of the decision to require a bid. “Did it lead to some problems we had? Maybe. But I would not characterize that as a mistake.”

The Army, instead, will take a more measured approach, holding conversations with industry, requesting white papers and then choosing five prime contractor teams to design rough digital prototypes, according to the Army’s acquisition chief, Dr. Bruce Jette.

The Army plans to involve “soldier touch points” at every stage of the process and give soldiers a chance to heavily evaluate designs along the way, he said.

Murray took pains to emphasize that soldiers would be involved in the design process, calling it “soldier-centered design,” which takes a page from other modernization efforts like the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) program.

And before ever bending any metal, the service will downselect to a group of three contractors that will provide more refined and detailed digital prototypes akin to a critical design review stage.

Then the Army will choose two prime contractors to build prototypes that will be heavily tested and demonstrated in order to potentially choose a winner that would move into a manufacturing contract, Jette explained.

While the timeline was ambitious in the previous effort and Army modernization goals dictated that it had to stick to schedule over all else, a schedule or even a benchmark for the first unit equipped isn’t defined this time around. Murray said the Army will look to early conversations with industry to inform possible schedules based on what is feasible rather than setting an “arbitrary date” right up front.

The Army is also planning to look at up to five vendors for major subsystems or components, Jette said. He also noted the service wants to “encourage companies to bring forth technology” that may not want to be a prime contractor, but have capabilities like automated loaders and fire control systems as well as in-cab wireless connectivity.

“The barrier to entry is much lower for their investment,” he said. “By going to a digital design, as most do anyway, it makes it much easier for a company to participate as an [Original Equipment Manufacturer] OEM.”
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[*] posted on 8-2-2020 at 03:26 PM


What DoD’s weapon tester said about Army electronic warfare

By: Mark Pomerleau   9 hours ago


The Army's Tactical Electronic Warfare System (TEWS) (Army)

The Pentagon’s top weapons tester is worried about how the Army will integrate new electronic warfare capabilities with specific platforms.

In a Jan. 30 report, the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation office, or DOT&E, examined the Electronic Warfare Planning and Management Tool (EWPMT) and, in the process, took a broader look at the Army’s electronic warfare enterprise.

Among the recommendations was that the Army should continue to refine doctrine to support the use of electronic warfare for tactical operations. It also suggested that the service improve coordination with electronic warfare and intelligence systems as a way to lead to deconfliction between friendly forces. The report noted that the Army revised the “Electronic Warfare Techniques” publication in June 2019.

Following the Cold War, the Army divested much of its electronic warfare capabilities, but since then, adversaries have made significant investments. Those moves have forced Army leaders to reexamine its own spending. Current efforts involve building both new capabilities and units.

The Army has begun deploying some of these new systems to units in Europe. Leaders there want help closing the gap against Russian capabilities in the region and the Army has used those opportunities to help inform the materiel development of its program of records that will eventually be fielded to the entire Army. Those programs range from EWPMT, a tool for visualizing and planning operations in the electromagnetic spectrum to ground based jammers and aerial jammers.

Among the other findings:

♦ The report determined that the Stryker’s batteries were not sufficient to support some electronic warfare systems. These included the Tactical Electronic Warfare System (TEWS), one of two prototypes for the Army’s Terrestrial Layer System, the Army’s first integrated signals intelligence, electronic warfare and cyber platform, the Versatile Radio Observation and Direction Finding Modular Adaptive Transmitter (VMAX) and EWPMT.

“Increased fuel consumption and aural signature limited employment of the TEWS,” the report read. Testers added that “TEWS-configured Stryker could operate on battery power for 20 minutes before requiring the engine to run to recharge the vehicle batteries.”

♦ The report found that the Blue Force Tracker network, which was the only method of digital communication from TEWS to the brigade, was not reliable and often failed.

“The volume of data processed and transmitted by EWPMT presents a challenge to the BFT network capacity. Should the network load from EWPMT exceed BFT capacity, data will be lost,” the report said.

As a result, DOT&E recommended the Army’s Network Cross Functional Team and Integrated Tactical Network Program Office out of Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications-Tactical, identify alternate communication plans for TEWS.

♦ The report said the Army should conduct future testers with operationally realistic threats and scenarios and continue efforts to increase vehicle operating time when the main power is off.
The program office, PEO Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors, said it is looking to improve user feedback in the tool’s development.

"Product Manger Electronic Warfare Integration has continually increased Soldier touch point opportunities by conducting User Verification Event(s) (UVE) every 90 days to obtain Soldier's feedback on the user interface and functionality of EWPMT,” Lt. Col. Jason Marshall, product manager electronic warfare integration, told C4ISRNET in a statement. “Additionally, in an effort to ensure synergy and provide an opportunity to operate in realistic scenarios the program supported various integration and demo activities while partnering with the Network and Assured [Position, Navigation and Timing] Cross Functional Teams."

♦ DOT&E noted progress on the Army’s part. Testers found improved coordination and collaboration when it came to using tactical electronic warfare during the Joint Operational Integration Assessment compared to previous events. This involved deconfliction of signals, sharing of sensor information and battle damage assessment and electronic warfare effects to electronic warfare teams.
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[*] posted on 8-2-2020 at 04:44 PM


Army Reboots OMFV, 2026 Deadline Dropped

After rejecting prototype vehicles built at industry’s expense, the Army is starting over with a competition for low-cost ‘digital prototypes.’ When will they physically build something? TBD.


By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.

on February 07, 2020 at 2:54 PM


M2 Bradley in Iraq

PENTAGON: At 12:01 today, three weeks and a day after the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle program derailed in its rush to replace the Reagan-era M2 Bradley by 2026, the Army launched a new lower-pressure, lower-cost approach to OMFV, one it hopes will embolden more companies to compete. But with three cancelled Bradley replacement efforts in the last 11 years, will thrice-burned defense contractors give the Army another chance?

“You’re absolutely right, trust is a big part of this,” said the four-star chief of Army Futures Command, Gen. John “Mike” Murray, when I raised the issue on a press call this morning. “We can assure everybody that the Army is absolutely committed to the development of this vehicle, and we haven’t walked away from that.”

“We are approaching this significantly differently,” said Assistant Secretary Bruce Jette, the Army’s civilian senior acquisition executive (SAE). For one thing, he said, “in the prior approach, there was a much deeper dependency on the industry’s cost sharing.”

To put it plainly, the Army had required each competitor to build a full-up working prototype at its own expense. Only two competitors tried, and the Army effectively disqualified both of them: a Raytheon-Rheinmetall team for not delivering their vehicle on time; a General Dynamics team for not meeting performance requirements, requirements which, Murray and Jette have admitted, may have been too ambitious for any company to meet on the Army’s tight timeline.

This time around, with a OMFV Market Survey posted online at 12:01 pm today, the Army is asking the companies what they think the requirements and the timeline should be. In fact, the only deadline in the new approach is the one for companies to respond to the Market Survey: three weeks from now, at 5 pm on Feb 28.

Today’s survey starts with the Army asking industry, in effect, where did we go wrong?

“Part 1: Cancelled Solicitation Feedback…. [Question] 1. What did your company consider when making a bid/no-bid decision for the OMFV….2. What items will impact your participation in follow-on OMFV Competition(s)?….3 Please provide recommendations for revisions….”

The rest of the document – the humblest government solicitation I’ve ever seen – asks for recommendations on 15 different items, from “technical requirements” to “competition [:] when and where in the overall approach?” to “future Industry Engagements – types and timing.”

Instead of issuing formal, detailed requirements, even in a draft form subject to change, the Army will provide industry a “characteristics document,” a broad-strokes list of desires that leaves industry lots of leeway to offer different solutions.

“It’s a page-and-a-half to include the signature block,” said Murray. While the characteristics document isn’t yet finalized – he promised to release it as soon as it was – he did sum up the Army’s nine desires for OMFV:

- “It’s got to protect soldiers.”
- “It’s got to keep pace in a combined arms formation.”
- “We’ve got to be able to upgrade this over time, so it’s got to be capable of growth without significantly increasing the weight.”
- “It’s got to be lethal if it’s going to survive on the modern battlefield.”
- “It’s got to traverse bridges and get across most of the MSRs, [the] Main Supply Routes [in regions] that we’re talking about being in.”
- “We’ve got to be able to transport it by rail, by air, by sea.”
- “We’ve got to be able to put [troops] in the back of it” — since the fundamental purpose of the Bradley, which OMFV must replace, is to carry combat infantry through hostile fire.
- “We would like it …to take advantage of [the in-development] Synthetic Training Environment, so on-board training systems would be preferable.”
- “We would like it to reduce the logistics burden on future commanders, so we’re looking for different ideas in terms of energy efficiency.”

In contrast to the cancelled competition, which imposed strict requirements for air transportability, “nowhere on this document does it say ‘two per C-17’ or less than a certain weight,’” Murray said.

What’s more, he emphasized, “Time is not on here. Time will be determined based on what we’re asking for in terms of the characteristics and what industry is capable of delivering.

“i have been told for four years,” Murray said, “by industry leaders, CEOs primarily, ‘just describe the problem for us and let us be innovative in our solutions’ – and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Five Phases, Zero Deadlines

So what comes after the Army receives industry’s responses to the market survey on Feb. 28th? This time, instead of jumping immediately to writing detailed requirements for physical prototypes, there is a multi-part competition with five phases – none of which, Jette and Murray emphasized, currently has a specific date:

- White paper proposals: Based on the written responses to the market survey, ongoing discussions with industry, and its own post-mortem of the first attempt at OMFV, the Army will refine its nine characteristics and request industry to submit white papers on how to achieve them – and how long it might take.

- Preliminary digital design: After evaluating the white papers, Jette said, the Army will award five contracts for industry teams to produce “a rough digital prototype” of their OMFV proposal.

Instead of “bending metal” to build a physical prototype, he explained, the competitors will produce the same kind of digital model that automakers commonly use to work out their designs. These models will be assessed not just by Army leaders and technocrats, Murray added, but by rank-and-file soldiers who have hands-on experience operating armored vehicles.

- Detailed detail design: Of the five preliminary digital designs, the Army will then select three, four, or even all five to refine their ideas into a “detailed digital design,” Jette said. (This is the model used by the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft program). These designs will receive more rounds of soldier feedback and ultimately pass through something analogous to the Critical Design Review (CDR) phase of a traditional program, where the competitors must prove their proposed technologies will not only work, but work together in an integrated system on the battlefield.

- Competitive prototype production: The Army will pick the two most promising detailed designs to actually build physical prototypes for real-world testing, with all the usual field trials required by Pentagon acquisition regulations and federal procurement law. That’s the same step the Army tried to jump to last fall with its first attempt at OMFV.

- Production: Finally, the Army will select one vendor to mass-produce actual combat vehicles, built to formal, detailed requirements. While the previous steps will be conducted under streamlined acquisition procedures – using both Middle-Tier Acquisition (aka Section 804) and Other Transaction Authority (OTA) – the production phase may transition to a formal, full-up program of record under the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulations (DFAR), Jette said. But, he added, it might be possible to start production under the Section 804 rules.

(Presumably, this would only apply to what’s called Low-Rate Initial Production, since full-rate production of hundreds of combat vehicles is by definition no longer “midlde-tier”).

“Notice I didn’t tell you how long it’s going to take to get to any particular phase,” Jette said. “A vendor …may come in and say, ‘I can do this in three years, four years, five years, six years, seven years.’ Then Gen. Murray and the uniformed side of things will look at the capabilities that can be brought to the field by a particular point in time, make a determination as to the need for a vehicle by a particular time as well, combine those two, and we’ll determine the right point … to move into the production phase.”

The M2 Bradley has been repeatedly upgraded since its introduction, but after 40 years in service, the vehicle is reaching its limits.

In other words: Instead of the Army imposing a timeline, competitors will be able to propose a timeline, which is one of the factors they’ll be judged on, along with capability and cost.

And the Army will assess the tradeoff between time and technology – whether to take longer to develop more tech, or accept less to move faster – in the strategic context of how urgently frontline units need the new vehicle.

All this means the original 2026 date to field the First Unit Equipped (FUE) with OMFV is no longer the Army’s deadline.

Both the Secretary of the Army, Ryan McCarthy, and the Chief of Staff, Gen. James McConville, have approved this approach, Jette said: “They believe that the objective is to get the right vehicle for the soldier [and] they’re open to us redefining the FUE date.”

Just as important, industry leaders are open to the new approach, Jette insisted: “I’ve spoken to a large number of the companies that have either in the past expressed an interest in being OEMs, or that we think ought to consider being OEMs, at the senior executive level, CEOs and presidents of corporations.”

“This is a much better path forward… much more cost effective and flexibles… where the barrier to entry is much lower for their investment going forward,” Jette said. “By going to a digital design — which most of them do anyway — it makes it much easier for a company to participate as an OEM [Original Equipment Manufacturer] than if I was to start off by asking them to deliver a [physical] vehicle.”

But how much of their own money will companies have to risk this time? While industry is free to develop new technology at their own expense, Jette said, “generally we’ll be funding the development of the vehicle.”
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[*] posted on 8-2-2020 at 05:02 PM


OMFV: The Army’s Polish Bridge Problem

The Army has struggled for decades to fit armored vehicles on airplanes. The real challenge is getting them across rickety Soviet-era bridges in Eastern Europe.


By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.

on February 06, 2020 at 3:09 PM


An M2 Bradley crosses a Dutch Army folding bridge. But military bridging is too short and too scarce to handle major rivers.

WASHINGTON: As the Army reboots its program to replace the 1980s-vintage Bradley Fighting Vehicle – its third attempted replacement in two decades – one crucial constraint is a little-appreciated feature of Eastern European infrastructure.

What’s that, you ask? Here’s the backstory. Unsatisfied with both potential vendors’ vehicles, the Army canceled its competition for a new Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle last month and announced it was reassessing its requirements. By all accounts, the problem was not the sophisticated automation for which the program was named. Instead, the dilemma was the age-old tradeoff between armor and mobility.

The immediate problem – there’s a whole other layer we’ll get to in a moment – was strategic mobility by air. The Army wanted the OMFV to weigh about the same as the most heavily armored variants of the Bradley it’s replacing, roughly 45 tons, so the Air Force could carry two of them on a C-17 cargo jet, which would allow rapid deployment to a crisis zone. But industry couldn’t get weight down that low and make the armor protection as strong as the Army wanted for survival in a European war with Russia.

Now that the Army is rebooting the program, can they cut industry some slack on weight? After all, as much as the Army has struggled for decades to develop armored vehicles that fit Air Force C-17s and C-130s, it’s never actually deployed more than a handful by air in any real-world operation, simply because there’s not enough airlift available. As a practical matter, the overwhelming majority of the Army’s heavy equipment arrives by sea, just as it did in World War II. The way to get it there faster is to send it sooner. The Army Prepositioned Stocks program keeps entire combat brigades’ worth of vehicles in warehouses around the world, close to potential conflict zones.

Since ships and APS warehouses don’t have the same weight limits as planes – their limiting factor is often volume, not weight – can’t the Army let the Bradley replacement be as heavy as it needs to be to survive Russian weapons?

Yes, up to a point. Here’s where we get back to the infrastructure. The problem isn’t just fitting on planes. It’s also crossing bridges.


The Vistula River and its tributaries form a natural barrier to east-west movement. (Wikimedia Commons)

While the US has spent most of the century so far fighting in deserts, any war with Russia would be fought in Eastern Europe, a vast plain riven by rivers. Many of those rivers, like the Vistula, run north-south, which forces NATO forces to bring reinforcements or to retreat across bridges. And few of them can handle more than 55 tons.


Rivers of Poland. (Wikimedia Commons)

There are historical reasons for this. While Western European infrastructure was often reinforced during the Cold War to handle the weight of 60-plus-ton NATO tanks, Eastern Europe couldn’t afford to build as robustly and, in any case, only had to accommodate much lighter Soviet tanks, like the 45-ton T-72. (Many Soviet vehicles were amphibious anyway, precisely to cross the region’s rivers).

Poland in particular has many rivers and few reinforced bridges It has run afoul of EU regulators for not being able to accommodate heavy vehicles. “The infrastructure in Poland is different than in some other European countries,” warns one guide for truckers. “Many bridges are only suitable for [vehicles] with a maximum weight of 50 or sometimes 60 tonnes [55 to 66 tons US]. If the weight exceeds 60 tonnes each bridge or viaduct has to be assessed to determine whether the transport can pass over it without any problems.”

What does this mean militarily? At more than 60 tons, the M1 Abrams main battle tank and most of its NATO kindred – the British Challenger II, the German Leopard II, even the French Leclerc — are already unsafe for many bridges where the alliance most urgently needs them. Well-armed troop carriers like the M2 Bradley – Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs) in military jargon – are under 50 tons, so they can cross many more bridges. That allows the mid-weight IFVs to move into position, dismount their infantry, and at least try to hold the line until the heavy tanks find a way across.

Spending billions to replace the Bradley with a new Infantry Fighting Vehicle that can’t cross most Eastern European bridges would appear to be unwise. And while Army engineers have some capability to build bridges under fire, or even deploy a short (11-meter) Joint Assault Bridge from an armored carrier in minutes, those capabilities are far too limited to cope with even one major Eastern European river.

Crossing bridges isn’t an unusual maneuver. It’s something armored units have to do all the time. In fact, throughout history, if there is only one bridge you can use to reach your objective, it becomes natural chokepoint where the enemy can kill your forces piecemeal as you cross. Such bloodbaths can become the stuff of legend, like the legendary Roman Horatius stopping the Etruscans, or Lee’s Confederates stalling Burnside at Antietam Creek, or the German Wehrmacht bombarding the last bridge at Remagen for 10 days — until it fell into the Rhine — as US troops pushed cross. Those aren’t the kind of battles the Army wants to fight in the future.
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[*] posted on 9-2-2020 at 03:41 PM


US Army Wants to See Through Walls—and ID People on the Other Side

By Brandi Vincent
Staff Correspondent, Nextgov

February 7, 2020


U.S. Army Sgt. John Yountz

This sounds like science fiction. But for soldiers, it could soon be a reality.

People can’t see through walls but the Army wants to pioneer next-level technology that will help soldiers do exactly that—with the added bonus of instantaneously offering advanced, penetrating insights that go far beyond what meets the eye.

According to a recent request for information, the Army is accepting white papers to identify commercially available technologies that could help spur its development of a “sense through the wall system.” In the Army’s ideal world, that system would distinguish for soldiers exactly what—and precisely who—is on the other side of the solid structures before them.

“The intent of this market survey is to identify potential man-portable systems that give the Soldier the ability to detect, identify, and monitor persons, animals, and materials behind multi-leveled obstruction(s) from a long standoff range,” officials wrote in the special notice. “The sensor system will also be able to map the structure and detect hidden rooms, passages, alcoves, caches, etc. including those underground.”

This is neither the government’s or military branch’s first attempt to produce advanced technologies with see-through capabilities, but the contents of the solicitation indicate that what insiders aim to create now was once only imaginable in science fiction.

According to the RFI, insiders want a system and devices that will support soldiers as they make critical life-or-death decisions. The technology would give them the ability to “track, locate, isolate, range, and count personnel and animals in a building or structure.” It would also need to classify whether people on the inside are sitting or standing, and simultaneously confirm whether they are a “friend [or] foe” by instantaneously tapping into their biometric data. Further, soldiers would also rely on it to determine whether there are any traps, explosives or hidden weapons within the structures and collect data that can be used to create 3D maps of the buildings in question.

The system will also need to penetrate through dense foliage, Army said, and all of the information it collects will need to be accessible by soldiers through wireless tablets.
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[*] posted on 12-2-2020 at 11:22 AM


New Technology Recognizes Faces in the Dark, Far Away

(Source: US Army; issued Feb 07, 2020)

ADELPHI, Md. --- For many, normal facial recognition -- used in the daylight -- has become a facet of everyday life. Whether it's for identity verification to unlock a smart phone, or trivial social media camera filters -- it seems the technology is everywhere.

However, at the U.S. Combat Capabilities Development Command Army Research Laboratory just outside of Washington, D.C., scientists are on the forefront of bringing facial recognition technology into the future, capable of identifying figures in the dark, as experimental tests kick off.

The cutting-edge technology uses artificial intelligence, machine learning techniques, and state-of-the-art infrared cameras to identify facial patterns by using the heat signatures from living skin tissue any time of day, said Dr. Sean Hu, U.S. Army Research Laboratory Intelligent Perception Branch team lead.

Infrared light is an invisible, heat-sensitive energy that can be felt when warmth is emitted from objects.

At ARL, the Army's corporate research laboratory, Hu -- and a team of scientists who work collaboratively with industry and academia as well as other DOD organizations -- have developed the initial algorithm to tie data into integrated software and hardware platforms that will eventually get into the hands of Soldiers.

The new technology, although nearly five years in the making, uses thermal imaging to detect the electromagnetic waves needed to distinguish heat signatures. Then, artificial intelligence is applied to the blurry thermal images to increase the quality of the image to render a photo-realistic composite and map key features of the face. AI is then used to compare the image with an existing data bank of mug shots.

By fusing night vision with facial recognition, Hu said, troops in low lighting or even pitch-black environments at standoff distances of a few hundred meters can automatically pinpoint potential persons of interest -- heavy cosmetics use, off-angle poses, amount of light, etc.

"The technology provides a way for humans to visually compare visible and thermal facial imagery through thermal-to-visible face synthesis," Hu said.

Once an infrared image is taken, the thermal technology will automatically cross-reference it against existing biometric face gallery databases and watch lists containing visible face imagery, he said, adding this will help Soldiers make quicker, safer and more intelligent decisions on the battlefield.

Right now, the algorithm used to couple the thermal imagery to the image databases are roughly 90% accurate on a controlled test dataset, Hu said, but further research into the applications will improve those numbers.

Facial recognition technology and thermal imagery are nothing new for the Army, but combining them is revolutionary.

Infrared is commonly found on Soldiers' body-worn cameras, and in aerial and ground vehicles, Hu said. Conventional facial recognition software -- typically in well-lit conditions using normal cameras -- is used on the battlefield.

"Under nighttime and low-light conditions, there isn't enough light to capture facial imagery without using artificial lighting, such as a flash or spotlight, without compromising a Soldier's safety or giving up their location to potential enemies," he said.

Force protection and surveillance applications motivate this research, he said, "We're trying to help Soldiers identify individuals of interest to aid both tactical and strategic operations."

As for now, ARL and its partners plan to continue maturing the algorithms and developing prototypes for experimental and then field testing in operationally relevant environments within the next two years.

-ends-
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[*] posted on 12-2-2020 at 11:52 AM


U.S. Army Tactical Wheeled Vehicles programs in FY 2019

Posted On Tuesday, 11 February 2020 14:05

Army Recognition looks back to a series of U.S. programs summarized in the FY2019 Annual Report for the Office of the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation. The Tactical Wheeled Vehicles concerned by this report are three manufacturers for the Infantry Squad Vehicle (ISV) – General Motors, Oshkosh/Flyer and SAIIC/Polaris – and Oshkosh for an FMTV 4x4 cargo truck.


The four tactical vehicle programs covered by the FY2019 report (Picture source: U.S. DoD)

In August 2019, the Infantry Squad Vehicle (ISV) program selected three vendors to participate in prototype testing, based on evaluation of Requests for Prototype Proposals (RPPs) and results of vehicle sample tests. The ISV Milestone C decision and down-select to a single contractor is planned for 3QFY20.

In August 2019, the Army began the DOT&E-approved LFT&E program designed to demonstrate the survivability of the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) A2 and its occupants against mines and IEDs threats. The FMTV program delayed the start of FMTV A2 Production Verification Test (PVT) because the contractor was required to address and fix production design deficiencies.

System

ISV


The ISV is the program of record for the Army Ground Mobility Vehicle. The ISV provides mobility on the battlefield for a nine-soldier light Infantry Squad with their associated equipment. The vehicle has a payload requirement of 3,200 pounds to support the Infantry Squad conducting 72-hour operations. The ISV has a maximum vehicle curb weight of 5,000 pounds to meet the requirement for external transport by the UH-60 Black Hawk. The vehicle is required to be external and internal transportable by a CH-47 Chinook helicopter and airdropped by C-17 Globemaster III and C-130 Hercules aircraft.

FMTV

The FMTV A2 is a set of hardware and software improvements to the FMTV A1 trucks designed to expand the capabilities of the FMTV. These upgrades include: adjustable suspension system, increased payload, electronic stability control, and an underbody protection kit. The FMTV A2 Family of Vehicles (FoV) consists of the following light and medium variants that operate on- and off-road.

- The Light Medium Tactical Vehicle (LMTV) transports a 6,000-pound payload and a 12,000-pound towed load.
- The Medium Tactical Vehicle (MTV) transports a 16,000-pound payload and a 21,000-pound towed load.

Mission

ISV


Infantry Brigade Combat Team commanders employ the ISV to provide mobility and logistics support capability to conduct engagement, security, deterrence, and decisive‑action missions. Airborne and air assault Brigade Combat Teams employ the ISV during austere and offset entry operations to provide rapid cross-country mobility to conduct initial entry and offensive operations.

FMTV

The Army employs the FMTV FoV to provide multi‑purpose transportation in maneuver, maneuver support, and sustainment units. Transportation units conduct line and local haul missions carrying cargo and soldiers with the LMTV and MTV Cargo variants and associated trailers. Medical units employ the MTV – Load Handling System to transport, load, and off-load medical containers. Maintenance units use the MTV wrecker to conduct recovery operations of light- and medium-wheeled vehicles. Engineering units employ the MTV Dump Truck to haul and dump material.

Major Contractors

ISV


• Oshkosh/Flyer Defense – Oshkosh, Wisconsin
• Science Applications International Corp (SAIC)/Polaris Government and Defense – Reston, Virginia
• General Motors Defense – Detroit, Michigan

FMTV

• Oshkosh Corporation – Oshkosh, Wisconsin

Activity

ISV


The ISV program began in 2QFY17. DOT&E placed the ISV program under oversight for OT&E in June 2017. This is the first annual report for the program.

In June 2019, the program conducted a Soldier Touchpoint 1 event at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, with five vendors’ ISVs to obtain soldier and crew feedback on design, operations, and ease of ingress/egress. The program used the feedback along with performance data to assess user acceptability of the five vendors’ proposals as part of the ISV Other Transaction Authority RPP.

In August 2019, the program selected three vendors’ ISVs to participate in prototype testing based on the evaluation of RPPs and the results of vehicle sample tests.

- Oshkosh/Flyer Defense
- SAIC/Polaris
- General Motors Defense

The program intends to use prototype developmental testing and a second Soldier Touchpoint event to inform an ISV Production Request for Proposal and Source Selection Board activities to down-select to a single contractor ISV in 3QFY20.

In November 2019, the Army Test and Evaluation Command (ATEC) began ISV prototype developmental testing at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. The objective of the testing is to demonstrate that the vendors’ ISVs can meet selected Key Performance Parameters and System Attributes.

The program is developing a Test and Evaluation Master Plan (TEMP) to reflect the test and evaluation activities for a Milestone C decision, production, and deployment phase of the program. The Milestone C Low-Rate Production decision is planned for 3QFY20.

FMTV

In FY19, the program began the development of an FMTV A2 TEMP Annex to outline the PVT and FOT&E for the FMTV A2 FoV. The program plans to submit the FMTV A2 TEMP Annex for DOT&E approval in February 2020. The program developed a separate LFT&E Strategy for FMTV A2 FOV. DOT&E approved the LFT&E strategy in February 2019.

In August 2019, the Army began the FMTV A2 LFT&E program consisting of five tests intended to assess the performance of the new underbody kit as a function of mine/IED charge and engagement location.

In September 2019, ATEC began performance and reliability testing on the FMTV A2 variants to verify compliance to the FMTV A2 performance specification. This testing, at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, will accumulate 179,000 miles on three FMTV A2 vehicles in both armored and unarmored configurations to assess whether the variants can meet their Mean Miles Between Operational Mission Failures (MMBOMF) requirement. Depending on the FMTV variant, the reliability requirement varies between 5,000 to 6,500 MMBOMF. ATEC plans to conduct the FMTV A2 FOT&E in 4QFY21 at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona.

Assessment

ISV


The Soldier Touchpoint 1 provided soldier assessment of loading mission-essential equipment in the vehicle, the suitability of the location of weapons mounts, casualty evacuation, and squads driving the vehicle over a 26-mile trail. The event focused on soldiers completing tasks rather than an ISV-equipped squad accomplishing missions.

DOT&E recommends the ISV developmental testing and Soldier Touchpoint 2 include reliability testing of the three vendors’ vehicles and demonstrate the ISV capabilities to support small unit mission accomplishment prior to the Milestone C and down-select decision.

FMTV

The FMTV A2 LFT&E program is ongoing and the preliminary assessment of the first tests demonstrated the expected performance of the underbody kit. The program has taken considerable action to require the vendor to fix production design deficiencies with the FMTV suspension and heat exchange systems. These design problems delayed the planned start of PVT by approximately 6 months. The program slipped the FOT&E from 1QFY21 to 3QFY21 to ensure the performance and reliability testing and logistics products are completed before the start of the FOT&E.

Recommendation

The ISV program should perform reliability testing of vendor’s ISV prior to Milestone C. The Soldier Touchpoint 2 event in January 2020 should include a small unit conducting end-to-end operational missions.
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[*] posted on 12-2-2020 at 04:36 PM


Army Seeks New JLTV Competition In 2022

The service is already slowing production of Oshkosh’s Joint Light Tactical Vehicle and now wants to find an alternative manufacturer —which could create logistical or legal headaches. Other Oshkosh programs are also ramping down.


By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.

on February 11, 2020 at 3:40 PM


JLTV on the Oshkosh production line.

PENTAGON: As the Army moves billions into new high-tech weapons, truck-maker Oshkosh is feeling the pinch. The 2021 budget request not only decreases spending on three Oshkosh vehicles, the 10-wheel FHTV, the 6-wheel FMTV, and 4×4 JLTV: It also calls for a new competition the following fiscal year for JLTV, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle originally meant to replace the Humvee.



That’s especially worrying for the Wisconsin company, because JLTV is the youngest program of the three and the most important for the company’s long-term future. But then-Army Secretary Mark Esper — now Secretary of Defense — has publicly criticized JLTV as overly specialized for the kind of counterinsurgency conflicts the Pentagon is no longer focused on. While the Army insists it will still buy the planned total of 49,099 trucks, eventually, it keeps slowing down the annual rate and extended the deadline to complete production, which now won’t end until 2042. (That leaves the Humvee in service, at least with some units, indefinitely).

Why recompete? “We do that to drive the price down,” said Deputy Assistant Army Secretary John Daniels this morning, when my colleague Jen Judson asked about the proposal. But any new competition would be two fiscal years from now and Daniels declined to give any details.

The only other information about the plan is buried on page 102 of the fifth volume of the Army’s newly released procurement request for 2021, which also includes projections for 2022 and beyond. Under JLTV, the “justification book” says that:

“Current contract options may be exercised through 30 November 2023 assuming contractual quantity headspace is still available. Current funding indicates headspace quantity of 16,901 may be achieved in FY 2021, with competitive follow on contract award anticipated in FY 2022. A split procurement will occur between the existing Oshkosh contract and the new competitively awarded contract based on the approved acquisition strategy. The Program Office continues to gather insight from industry partners to better understand their position to ensure strong competition for the follow on contract.”

In plain English, this means Oshkosh’s current contract to build Joint Light Tactical Vehicles runs though fall 2023. Since production will continue for decades, the Army will have to award a new contract to buy more JLTVs for itself, the other services and allies. But when it comes time to award that follow-on contract, the service doesn’t want Oshkosh to be its only option: It wants at least one competitor to drive down costs.

That sounds like Capitalism 101, but it’s not so simple to do in practice. The Army historically prefers to have large numbers of a single type of vehicle: A homogenous force allows efficiencies of scale. If you have lots of different types of vehicles doing the same job, each one requires a different training course for troops, a stockpile of unique and incompatible spare parts, its own development and testing program, and its own production line. (In fact, Nazi Germany’s fondness for small production runs of many different types of trucks, tanks, and other vehicles was yet one more reason it lost the war).

So there are two ways the Army could create competition for JLTV, each with its own difficulties:

Require each competitor to submit its own design, so the Army could buy a vehicle that isn’t the Oshkosh JLTV, but can do the same job. Besides the logistical headaches of a mixed fleet, the Army would also have to face the decision either to pay competitors or to develop their JLTV alternatives – i.e. at least partially at the taxpayers’ expense – or require would-be bidders to assume all the cost and risk – a barrier to entry that would limit even a big company’s interest in competing.

Require Oshkosh to share its design with potential competitors, so the Army could buy a vehicle that’s identical to the Oshkosh JLTV but built by someone else, potentially at a lower price. Yes, there are competitions that work this way, but they typically require the government to own the rights to the design. Since Oshkosh owns the intellectual property for JLTV, the Army would have to pay them for it – assuming they’re willing to sell.
Neither the Army nor Oshkosh responded to our questions. If they do, we’ll update this story or publish a sequel when we learn more.


The four official JLTV variants.
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[*] posted on 13-2-2020 at 04:23 PM


Army Charging Ahead With Advanced Powertrains

2/12/2020

By Jon Harper


Advanced Powertrain Demonstrator
GVSC photo


An Army program to develop and integrate new powertrain technology is setting the stage to provide leap-ahead capabilities for the military’s vehicle fleets, as the service pursues next-generation platforms.

The Advanced Powertrain Demonstrator initiative began in 2015 after the Army canceled the Ground Combat Vehicle program.

The aim was to mature critical technology that could enable a more revolutionary future platform, said Bruce Brendle, associate director of ground vehicle power and mobility at the Army’s Ground Vehicle Systems Center, which spearheads cutting edge automotive research and development.

The demonstrator, known as the APD, has several components, including an advanced combat engine, transmission, integrated starter generator, modular batteries and thermal management system.

“We were looking at a more power dense solution … offering an engine in a smaller package,” said John Tasdemir, powertrain branch chief at GVSC.

The smaller form factor could free up space for additional armor protection for Bradley fighting vehicles or other platforms, Tasdemir said. Future vehicles could also be designed to be smaller and less heavy to enhance mobility, or have more room to carry additional capabilities.

“For new clean-sheet vehicle designs, you can have a more compact propulsion system,” he said. “You can add more to the soldier crew, you can add more weapons, more capabilities for other technologies on the vehicle besides the powertrains for next-generation combat vehicle applications.”

The 1,000-horsepower advanced combat engine with a two-stroke opposed piston diesel design, will offer efficiency improvements in fuel economy and cooling mechanisms, while increasing vehicle range, according to officials.

The more efficient and power dense the system is in terms of packing, the more power can be delivered to the sprocket to enhance mobility and propulsion, Tasdemir said.

The advanced combat transmission is another key component of the powertrain.

“You might have the best engine in the world, but if you have the worst transmission … you’re not going to get the gains or the benefits,” he said. “You have to look at the whole system approach.”

The transmission is involved in three key functions: propulsion, braking and steering.

“What this solution offers is the efficiency gains that current combat vehicles and U.S. Army combat tracked vehicles do not have,” Tasdemir said.

Some transmissions in Army platforms have efficiencies — calculated by dividing power output by power input — as low as 55 percent depending on the operating range. But the advanced combat transmission efficiency exceeds 90 percent, he noted.

“Most of all the power that’s being developed by the engine can then go down to the sprocket potentially for mobility and propulsion use. That’s the key element. And also the size too,” he said. “The smaller, the better.”

The integrated starter generator — essentially a motor that GVSC put between the engine and the transmission — is another key technology. It generates 160 kilowatts of power, about 10 times the amount on current medium combat vehicles, Brendle noted.

Today’s vehicles typically have alternators that are belt driven and produce electrical power, he explained.

“What we wanted to do was to enable these future Army technologies, so we went to a similar type of generator you could say, but it’s driven directly from the engine … so we don’t have that belt system. And then we went to a high voltage architecture,” he said.

The 600 volts of direct current create a tremendous amount of power that can then be used to add new energy-based capabilities to the vehicle, such as electrified armor and high-energy lasers, he noted. It can also be used to export power to systems like soldier radios, robots or temporary expeditionary bases. “There’s a lot we can do with all this energy once we put it on the vehicle.”

The powertrain package also includes advanced modular lithium-ion batteries that offer major advantages over current lead-acid batteries, with half the weight per battery and an ability to replace legacy batteries two for one.

“You have a two-times saving in volumes for the same space claim and a four-times weight savings,” said Michael Claus, a mechanical engineer at GVSC. The Army can put more batteries on the vehicles to help power onboard electronics or enable silent-watch capabilities that mitigate the need for noisy engines when soldiers are out in the field.

The lithium-ion technology is expected to achieve a more than 10-fold increase in battery cycle life, reducing logistics requirements and overall lifecycle costs.

The systems are “smart batteries” that can input signals and interact with the rest of the powertrain, Claus said. They can also operate just as well as comp­arable lead-acid batteries even when they have a much lower charge.

Brendle said the improved energy storage technology has implications for other GVSC projects.

“Our next set of programs are focused on electrification of combat vehicles, including hybrid systems that can offer silent mobility and these long periods of silent watch,” he said. “The better storage we have, the longer mobility we can get or the longer silent watch. So it’s certainly a stepping stone to that capability.”

The APD effort includes an advanced thermal management system to prevent overheating. A new cooling stack was developed to incorporate the integrated starter generator, and a high-speed fan was converted from a mechanical to an electrical configuration, enabling the technology to operate more efficiently.

“Electrifying the fan allows us to choose different operating points with a fan and really cool what the other components need to be cooled,” Claus explained. It is a major step up from mechanical fans.

“It’s usually an on-or-off type system or a belt-driven system,” Claus said. “But now with the electronic controls we can sense the heat in the compartment and really spin it to what we need to, and that lowers the overall power draw on the platform.”

The Army is currently pursuing an optionally manned fighting vehicle and a family of robotic combat vehicles. The APD technology was designed to offer a drive-by-wire capability.

“We wanted to make sure everything was a drive-by-wire solution,” Tasdemir said. “This enables the next generation [of platforms] … to be autonomously driven or optionally manned.”

All of the APD technologies were designed to have a modular and scalable architecture that could fit a variety of platforms. They can be scaled up for heavier platforms such as a tank, or scaled down for smaller tactical vehicles, Tasdemir noted.

Brendle said the greatest benefit would be derived from incorporating the entire powertrain package into a vehicle. But some current vehicle program managers are interested in incorporating individual components into their platforms.
“There’s already some potential to transition some of that technology earlier than the entire power pack,” he said.

The APD is not a formal part of the next-generation combat vehicle program, Brendle emphasized, but it is developing capabilities that are options for integration into future systems.
“We don’t have a firm tie to that program … but the dense powertrain is really critical,” he said. “If we can get more power, not just for mobility but for new capabilities, we can really enable the future that the Army envisions.”

Industry has played an important role in the APD effort and helped develop the components under competitive solicitations, Brendle noted. Cummins developed the engine, SAPA the transmission and L3 the integrated starter generator.

GVSC has been in frequent communication with the major vehicle original equipment manufacturers about the APD technology and has shared its computer-aided design models.

“We try to make sure our equipment, our technologies fit into various vehicles,” Tasdemir said. “We do our own placement and analysis to guide our designs. But one of the … things we can do with industry is to allow them to use the models of our equipment so they can do their own work to see how it impacts their system — either their current systems or systems they’re conceptualizing on their own.”

The goal is to make the technology available to U.S. companies bidding on Army, Marine Corps or Special Operations Command programs, Brendle noted.

“We try to work closely with the OEMs to make sure they have the information they need, any test results that we’ve done,” he said. “The [APD] program is wrapping up and the opportunities now are for the technologies we have demonstrated to be leveraged by industry in their future programs.”

About $204 million has been spent on the project, according to the Army.

The Ground Vehicle Systems Center recently completed integration of the various powertrain components into a Bradley fighting vehicle hull to demonstrate basic functionality and to allow for detailed testing and validation of system level performance.

“We have a Bradley hull and it’s stripped of all the components, and we’re using the actual hull just so we … know that if we integrated this [APD technology] into a real vehicle, it would fit,” Claus explained.

In December a demonstration was held at GVSC in Warren, Michigan, for senior service leaders including Lt. Gen. James Richardson, deputy commander of Army Futures Command. Members of industry also attended.

The next program milestone is to complete detailed testing and system level performance validation in a test cell. Technology Readiness Level 6 testing is slated for March.

A follow-on project known as the Advanced Mobility Experimental Prototype, or AMEP, will include additional testing and evaluation at Army proving grounds. It will be a joint effort between the Ground Vehicle Systems Center and program executive office for ground combat systems to mature the technology to TRL 7.

“We’ll be moving the technology onto moving vehicles for dynamic evaluation over the next several years,” Brendle said. Army plans called for having the advanced powertrain systems ready for potential production in fiscal year 2023.
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[*] posted on 15-2-2020 at 02:50 PM


Army Researchers Pursue Soldier Protection Technologies

(Source: US Army; issued Feb 13, 2020)

ADELPHI, Md. --- When faced with battlefield threats, American Soldiers depend more than ever on body armor to protect them. To adapt to the evolving dangers of getting shot, the Army created a flagship program dedicated to protection technologies.

At the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command's Army Research Laboratory, leaders designated 10 research programs as essential. Soldier protection made the list.

"The United States fields the best body armor in the world, but near-peer adversaries have threats designed to defeat body armor," said Dr. Christopher Hoppel, Physics of Soldier Protection to Defeat Evolving Threats program manager.

This essential research program, or ERP, directly supports an important modernization priority for the Army, Soldier Lethality. Soldier lethality spans all fundamentals: shooting, moving and communicating, protecting, sustaining and training, according to Army officials.

"We are working on the technologies to provide Soldiers with protection from those future threats while not placing any additional burdens on the Soldier."

Army scientists and engineers aim to discover, innovate and transition effective yet lightweight body armor to defend Soldiers from next-generation ballistic threats -- without restricting movements or increasing load.

The program has three research thrusts: terminal ballistics, armor materials and computational mechanics. In each of these areas, Army scientists partner with experts in the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy, as well as industry and academia, to bring in additional knowledge and identify the most promising technologies in the field.

Working together, the researchers plan to improve Soldier protection technology using multiple approaches.

"In the short term, we are working to develop and demonstrate ballistic mechanisms to defeat small arms threats in a compact armor package," Hoppel said. "At the same time, we are developing new ceramic composite materials technologies to minimize the weight and bulk of the armor."

Testing is already underway with advanced ceramic blends such as synthetic diamond, along with novel manufacturing methods to provide higher toughness and lower density. Researchers are also investigating ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene composite materials that may absorb the kinetic energy of the oncoming bullets.

So far, the team has seen considerable success with its comprehensive systems-engineering approach. Last year, Army scientists examined the design methodology and the requirements for behind armor blunt trauma, which address the energy transmitted to the body during a non-penetrating impact.

Working together with the CCDC Data & Analysis Center, researchers made a significant adjustment to the behind-armor-criteria that reduced the weight of the armor by up to 20 percent. Then-Vice Chief of Staff of the Army General James McConville, approved the change last June as part of the Vital Torso Protection program.

For the long term, Army scientists plan to create computational tools to help them design armor for any ballistic threat.

"We are developing improved models to capture the full system response, including the fracture and failure of these materials under high pressures and loading rates and behavior of the material interfaces," Hoppel said. "In these efforts, we are using the Army's high performance computing centers to model how the projectiles and armors respond under high rates of loading."

Scientists and engineers in the program partner with industry and academia through the Army's collaborative research alliance known as MEDE, Materials in Extreme, Dynamic Environments. The alliance is led by Johns Hopkins University and includes a consortium of universities and industry partners seeking to understand the effects of material microstructure on the response to ballistic loading conditions.

Army scientists are also working together with the Dynamic Compression Sector at Argonne National Laboratory to conduct controlled experiments designed to calibrate and validate computational models for large-scale impact and penetration problems.

By partnering with leaders in the field, the researchers believe their collective efforts will strengthen their push for better protection technologies.

"We have gained a good understanding of the operative mechanisms in these emerging threats, and that knowledge illuminates paths forward to defeat the threats efficiently and robustly," Hoppel said. "This will enable us to push the boundaries of armor design, creating much more effective protection for the Soldier."

This story is the first in a multipart podcast series, What We Learned Today, highlighting the mission behind each of lab's essential research programs. This series will provide coverage on the goals guiding the structure of these programs and the managers who lead them.

CCDC Army Research Laboratory is an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command. As the Army's corporate research laboratory, ARL discovers, innovates and transitions science and technology to ensure dominant strategic land power. Through collaboration across the command's core technical competencies, CCDC leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more lethal to win our nation's wars and come home safely. CCDC is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.

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[*] posted on 15-2-2020 at 07:39 PM


Army’s Infantry Squad Vehicle Sparks Robust Competition

2/14/2020

By Mandy Mayfield


SAIC-Polaris DAGOR
SAIC-Polaris photo


The Army is trying to fast-track the acquisition of an all-terrain, highly transportable vehicle intended to provide ground mobility capabilities for infantry brigade combat teams.

In February 2019 the service approved a procurement objective to purchase 651 infantry squad vehicles, or ISVs. The Army selected GM Defense, an Oshkosh Defense-Flyer Defense team and an SAIC-Polaris partnership last summer to build two prototypes each for the initiative. They each were awarded a $1 million other transaction authority agreement to build the vehicles. OTA agreements enable the Defense Department to cut through some of the bureaucratic red tape associated with the Pentagon’s traditional acquisition system by enabling them to speed up the delivery of new capabilities.

The service is holding a series of tests to inform its decision and is slated to choose one vehicle for production in fiscal year 2020 based on soldier feedback.

Prototypes were due in November and were assessed at Aberdeen Test Center in Maryland, the Army said in a press release. Following the trials — which ended in December — the vehicles were scheduled to be sent to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in January for a second round of testing.

The vehicle must be able to carry nine soldiers and weigh no more than 5,000 pounds so it can be sling-loaded from a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter and fit inside a CH-47 Chinook.

GM Defense’s bid is heavily based off of its Colorado ZR2 and ZR2 Bison variants — a Chevy-made, mid-sized, off-road truck, Mark Dickens, chief engineer at GM Defense, said in an interview.

Seventy percent of the vehicle is made of commercial products, he noted.

“The chassis — which is the frame, the suspension, driveline, engine, transmission, transfer case, axles, brakes — all of that hardware is directly from the Colorado ZR2, with the addition of some of our performance parts for off-road use,” Dickens said.

The contractor’s parent company, General Motors, builds approximately 150,000 vehicles per year that utilize the same chassis as its ISV offering, a factor that streamlined the design process of the vehicle, Dickens noted.

“Anything on this chassis … somebody could walk into a Chevy dealership and purchase those parts,” he said.

The rest of the components were either uniquely made for the vehicle, or built from modified existing commercial products.

The company leveraged computer analysis from General Motors to ensure specific aspects of the vehicle, such as rollover protections and off-road racing capabilities, were precise, Dickens said.

The vehicle can also accommodate different cargo and occupant configurations and is easily transportable via sling attached to a UH-60 Black Hawk or inside a CH-47 Chinook, according to the company.

Meanwhile, Polaris Defense has designed the DAGOR ISV, which “delivers off-road mobility while meeting the squad’s payload demands, all within the weight and size restrictions that maximize tactical air transportability,” said Nick Francis, director of the company.

Polaris’ partnership with SAIC further enhances the team’s offering by leveraging capabilities that have “been tested, certified and fielded to operational units” since 2015, he said.

The vehicle has an integrated turret, is heavy-weapons capable and has an oscillating arm available for additional lethality, he said via email.

The bid is based on Polaris’ DAGOR vehicle, which is a platform already in use by the Army. The new ISV variant offers warfighters more mobility and maneuverability, said Mike Gray, a vice president at SAIC. The company is providing the systems engineering to integrate new tools to meet the service’s requirements.

The vehicle also has casualty evacuation capabilities.

“If any squad member is injured, only a single seat needs to be stowed on the side of the DAGOR ISV for full [casualty evacuation] capability, making our solution the only light tactical vehicle that keeps the squad unified and moves soldiers safely from one objective to the next,” he said.


Left to right: SAIC-Polaris DAGOR, Oshkosh Defense and Flyer Defense’s Ground Mobility Vehicle 1.1, GM Defense ISV concept

By partnering with Polaris, SAIC is leveraging the commercial expertise and off-road vehicle capabilities of the company with its proven performance defense vehicles, Gray said.

The platform meets the Army’s requirements for the tactical environment, Francis said. It is under 5,000 pounds, able to carry nine soldiers and is air-transportable.

Additionally, training and field support for the company’s ISV submission are available through already established networks within SAIC and Polaris that currently provide support to the military, Francis noted.

Oshkosh Defense and Flyer Defense designed a platform that is based on two Flyer-designed vehicles. These include the Ground Mobility Vehicle 1.1, which is in use by Special Operations Command, and another version of the vehicle employed by the Army for ground mobility in the interim of acquiring a new capability, Flyer Defense said in a press release.

The ISV requirements shared 95 percent commonality with two of Flyer’s previously fielded vehicles, the company said.

Oshkosh declined to be interviewed, citing competitive reasons.

Though the Army has narrowed down the competition, the ISV solicitation drew heavy interest and submissions from members of industry, said Andrew Hunter, director of the defense-industrial initiatives group at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

It is notable that the Army often has numerous bidders for its acquisition programs despite the limited number of suppliers in the defense industrial base writ large, Hunter said.

“There [are] not that many competitors,” he noted. “Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and General Dynamics — they’re the big industry players and, in a lot of cases, they have dominant positions within their key markets.”

Nevertheless, the Army has been able to attract a number of bidders for its projects, Hunter said.

“They tend to have a very competitive marketplace that they participate in, and in particular when it comes to tactical vehicles, they have had a real history of being able to generate a lot of competition,” he said. “Those are all really encouraging signs. It’s an indication that this is a really healthy part of the industrial base.”

Competitive pressures can yield new innovations and options that the service might not have had with a more static part of the industrial base, he said.

The Army’s plan to procure the ISV to meet its ground mobility requirement comes following a significantly delayed effort.

The 2016 plan to hold a competition was delayed while procurement of the initial ground mobility vehicle was leveraged through an existing contract with Special Operations Command.

The service previously purchased the command’s vehicles for a number of airborne infantry brigade combat teams. However, in the fiscal year 2018 defense spending bill, Congress directed the Army hold a competition for the program.

The program executive office for combat support and combat service support posted on its website last year that the service planned to pursue a competition for a ground mobility vehicle, now known as the infantry squad vehicle.

As the Army is working to fast-track the acquisition of the ISV, its use of rapid prototyping for the design phase of the program is significant, Hunter noted.

“Rather than starting with a set of infinitely detailed military specifications and trying to find … [a] vendor willing to tackle and do the engineering to provide all that, they are going out to industry and saying: ‘Here are some general requirements that we have, show us what you can do,’” Hunter said.

If the service can find a capability that meets its requirements, it could potentially field it quickly, he added.

The same acquisition model was used for the M-ATV program, which was a version of the mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles. Over the course of the five-year program, the military quickly deployed approximately 12,000 MRAPs in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“This ISV competition really seems to have absorbed that heritage — that practice of success that the Army has used for tactical vehicles and are applying it to this requirement,” he said.
Another notable aspect of the ISV competition is the participation of GM Defense, Hunter noted.

There has been a lack of interest from the commercial automotive industry in the defense sector, even though it is a natural fit for manufacturing vehicles, he said.

“Even in recent years when the automotive industry started to take an interest in producing vehicles for the Army, it has been hard for them to break through,” Hunter added.

“The fact that GM Defense is one of the final three competitors offering a version of the Chevy Colorado — that is intriguing.”
Hunter believes the service could potentially benefit from leveraging commercial supply chains.

The ISV is a “test case, or really proof of principle, that the Army can really rapidly acquire something from scratch that fills a military need,” he said. “Beyond just this relatively small requirement here, it has the possibility to condition the larger acquisition space.”

The military could also benefit from utilizing commercial components, he noted.

If the service can prove with this competition that it can deliver a well-made capability quickly, it could enhance and potentially further shape its future acquisition initiatives, he noted.
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[*] posted on 18-2-2020 at 11:13 AM


U.S. Army to test off-road EZRaider electric scooter

Posted On Monday, 17 February 2020 15:55

The U.S. Army is about to start testing a four-wheeled electric scooter known as the EZRaider at the annual Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiments (AEWE) taking place in Fort Benning, Georgia. AWE is used to conduct war games and mock battles designed to give soldiers the opportunity to test out new and experimental equipment.


The EZRaider is available either in 4x2 or 4x4 configuration (Picture source: EZRaider)

So far, the EZRaider has no equivalent in the electric mobility space, combining the riding position of a jet ski with the stability of an ATV. It features patent-pending long-travel suspension that allows each wheel to move independently both vertically and horizontally. The device’s tall handlebars provide extra stability while its off-road tires offer traction in varied terrain. The vehicle is available in a large number of variations, with power ranging from 2.4 kW up to 18 kW, and battery capacity ranging from 1.7 to 3 kWh. Options are available for either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. It can also operate in extreme temperatures of heat and cold (-20 to +75°C). The EZRaider is designed to carry up to 200 kg (440 lb) in its most rugged model. It can also tow a specially-designed trailer.

The EZRaider has already been purchased by various army and police units around the world, namely U.S. Special Forces, the Dutch army and Israeli Police and Border Guard.


The EZRaider can tow a small trailer (Picture source: EZRaider)
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[*] posted on 18-2-2020 at 12:54 PM


Aviation Brigade Building Readiness Through 'Fat Cow' Fueling

(Source: US Army; issued Feb 12, 2020)

WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, Hawaii --- "If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." - African Proverb

Working together is exactly what petroleum supply specialists from Echo Co. 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Infantry Division and 3rd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, did to refuel three Black hawks and an Apache attack helicopter during training in Forward Arming and Refueling Point (FARP) procedures at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii Feb. 5, 2020.

Soldiers practice fueling procedures by utilizing a field expedient method commonly referred to as "Fat Cow." This method consists of using the CH-47F Chinook helicopter from Bravo Co, 3-25 as a fuel source for other aircraft.

"There is no fancy name for this exercise; It's called "Fat Cow" because it's a big aircraft full of fuel," said Capt. Brendan Brye, commander of Bravo Co. 3-25. "We conduct Fat Cows at least every quarter for training and certification of leaders and fuelers. We also have executed them for real world scenarios and built into future air assault operations."

"I just got out of advanced individual training and that was my first time fueling helicopters," said Spc. Melissa Munisar, petroleum supply specialists assigned to Echo Co. 2-25. "For me it is a little terrifying because I feel ultimately responsible if one of the birds is unable to finish the mission due to lack of fuel. But at the same time I feel very proud because the mission was able to get done and I was happy to be a part of it."

"Depending on the configuration, a CH-47 can hold up to three external fuel tanks with a total capacity of 2,400 gallons (16,000 lbs), however we usually only utilize the one tank (800 gallon/5400 lb option) during training," said Brye.

This method allows for Forward Arming and Refueling Points (FARP) in areas where ground resources may not be feasible. A "Fat Cow" is a rapidly employed FARP that is ideally suited for short duration, forward operations. It is also cleared within minutes and utilizes pressure refuel for faster aircraft turnaround times.

"Fat Cow exercises not only build the capability and readiness of the unit, but the event serves as a mechanism for junior leaders (both Aviation and Forward Support) to coordinate across the aviation brigade and develop a better understanding of each airframe's unique capabilities," said Brye. "It provides forward elements (usually AH-64's) a quick refuel and rearm so they can get back to the fight and provide more station time (so they don't have to come all the way back to friendly lines).

"My platoon has a very simple motto, 'We Don't Stop!'," said Sgt. Kevin Henry, a petroleum supply specialists assigned to Echo Co. 3-25. "Whether my brothers and sisters in arms need fuel in the air or on ground this NCO is going to get you there five gallons at a time."

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