Category Archives: Ground Forces

SPIKE LR missile

BAE Systems has successfully fired an integrated, long-range anti-tank guided missile from the CV90 Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) in a recent series of tests.

BAE Systems’ CV90 increases lethality by testing SPIKE LR anti-tank guided missile

This advancement further diversifies the CV90’s operational capabilities on the battlefield by enabling indirect fire at long distances or at air targets, boosting the vehicle’s lethality while increasing crew safety.

The testing, which took place in difficult arctic conditions, used a Rafael Advanced Defense Systems’ Spike-LR (long range) missile mounted on a BAE Systems Hägglunds’ CV90 to defeat a target at more than 2,000 metres/6,562 feet. The exercise marks the first time an integrated version of an anti-tank guided missile has been launched from the CV90. It also demonstrates the platform’s versatility to perform a wide range of missions, and shows the CV90 can easily adapt to new technologies for meeting current and future customer needs.

«This integrated anti-tank capability confirms that the CV90 is a true benchmark when it comes to expanding a family of multi-mission armoured fighting vehicles», said Dan Lindell, CV90 platform director at BAE Systems Hägglunds. «This new capability can alter the battlefield dynamic and is yet another example of how the CV90’s already superior mobility and survivability allows the warfighter to pack an even heavier punch in any terrain or weather conditions, and at any time on any battlefield».

The December testing took place in northern Sweden in below freezing temperatures with heavy snowfall and low visibility.

«We fully appreciate Rafael and their Spike team for working with us to demonstrate this important capability and look forward to continuing our collaboration to provide present and future customers with this powerful addition to the CV90’s lethality suite», Lindell said.

The long-range missile testing is yet another recent example of improved lethality on the CV90. BAE Systems is currently executing a Swedish government contract to provide a mortar variant of the CV90 called Mjölner that adds greater mobility to close indirect fire support.

More than 1,200 CV90s of numerous variants are in service with Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands. The vehicle has a combat-proven track record and is designed to accommodate future growth to meet evolving missions.

Enforcer missile

MBDA has been awarded by the German Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) a contract for the acquisition of Enforcer missile systems for the German Armed Forces. Signed on 20 December, the contract will fulfil the German requirement for a lightweight, day/night, precision-guided, shoulder-launched weapon system with an effective range of more than 1,800 m/1.118 mile.

Germany procures Enforcer missiles from MBDA

Thomas Gottschild, Executive Group Director Strategy and Managing Director MBDA Germany said: «The German customer has chosen the Enforcer after a detailed, competitive evaluation for the ‘Leichtes Wirkmittel 1800+’ requirement. With this contract, we are partnering with the German Armed Forces to ensure the Bundeswehr has this comprehensive weapon for years to come».

Éric Béranger, CEO of MBDA said: «With the addition of the shoulder-launched Enforcer, MBDA is now firmly embarked in a complete renewal of its family of battlefield engagement weapons that started with Brimstone 3 and Missile Moyenne Portée (MMP), a Medium Range missile introduced last year into the French Army. Enforcer, MMP and Brimstone now form the core of a portfolio that we hope will see many further developments».

Enforcer provides low-collateral precision effects capabilities against the threat from lightly armoured static and moving targets, targets behind cover, and against targets at long range also in urban environments. Resulting from a multinational MBDA development effort, the Enforcer will complement the ‘Wirkmittel 90’ shoulder-launched unguided munition capability in the German Armed Forces. MBDA is now set to complete qualification, and prepare for series production.

The modular design of the Enforcer system enables a range of future development options, including a prospective ‘family’ of Enforcer munitions for land, air and sea applications.

 

The Enforcer concept is a new lightweight, disposable shoulder-launched guided munition in the 2 km/1.2 mile class. Modular design offers prospect of a future family of Enforcer munitions

Key features of Enforcer at a glance:

  • Fire-and-forget missile system
  • Range up to 2,000 m/1.243 mile
  • High precision over full range
  • Lock-On Before Launch (LOBL)
  • Capability against lightly armoured and soft skinned targets
  • Effect against targets behind cover through airburst capability
  • Multi-effects warhead
  • Enclosed space firing capability
  • Lightweight (missile + launch tube < 9 kg/19.84 lbs.)
  • Day and night operation
  • System weight (sight and two munitions) < 20 kg/44.09 lbs.
  • Missile weight < 7 kg/15.43 lbs.
  • Modular architecture

Light Tactical Vehicle

Oshkosh Defense, LLC, an Oshkosh Corporation company, announced on December 18, 2019 that the U.S. Army Contracting Command – Warren has placed an $803.9 million order for 2,721 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTVs). Additional orders from the U.S. Army Contracting Command are anticipated within this fiscal year.

Oshkosh awarded $803.9 million JLTV order for Army, Marine Corps, Air Force and Navy

This order includes JLTVs for the U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Navy. It also includes vehicles for the country of Montenegro via Foreign Military Sale (FMS). The distribution of JLTVs ensures that multiple branches of the United States military have the light tactical vehicle they need to perform missions that support the National Defense Strategy.

«As the threats on today’s modern battlefield continue to evolve, our Warfighters need a highly capable light tactical vehicle that is uniquely suited for mission adaptability», said George Mansfield, vice president and general manager of joint programs for Oshkosh Defense. «The JLTV can accommodate over 100 different mission package configurations without sacrificing mobility or transportability».

Today’s order also includes 30 JLTVs for the country of Montenegro, among the first NATO allies to receive the vehicle.

Self-propelled howitzer

The U.S. Army has awarded BAE Systems a $249 million contract modification to complete an additional 60 Paladin M109A7 self-propelled howitzers that will bring improved artillery capabilities to the Army’s Armored Brigade Combat Teams (ABCTs).

BAE Systems receives order from U.S. Army for additional Paladin M109A7 Self-Propelled Howitzers

«We are excited about the opportunity to continue bringing new howitzers and increased survivability to our soldiers», said Jeremy Tondreault, vice president and general manager of BAE Systems Combat Vehicles. «The M109A7 positions the Army to execute its current mission with confidence and support its future needs and requirements as long range precision fires evolve».

The award exercises options on an existing low-rate production contract and includes the completion of an additional 60 M992A3 Carrier, Ammunition, Tracked (CAT) vehicles to accompany the Paladin M109A7.

The Paladin M109A7 and the CAT vehicle sets provide increased commonality across the ABCT, and have significant built-in growth potential in terms of electrical power and weight carrying capacity. The vehicle design includes a new chassis, engine, transmission, suspension, steering system, a new high voltage architecture and improved survivability, while the vehicle’s cannon remains the same as that of an M109A6 Paladin.

The Paladin M109A7 is supported by the Army as a vital technology enhancement program to maintain the combat capability of its ABCTs. It will solve long-term readiness and modernization needs of the M109 family of vehicles through a critical redesign and production plan that leverages the most advanced technology available today. This state-of-the-art «digital backbone» and power generation capability provides a more robust, survivable, and responsive indirect fire support capability for ABCT Soldiers. The Paladin M109A7 is a significant upgrade over the Paladin M109A6 as it restores space, weight, and power cooling, while providing significant growth potential for emerging technologies.

The initial contract was awarded in 2017. This most recent order brings the total number of vehicle sets – Paladin M109A7 howitzers and M992A3 ammunition carriers – to 156, and the total contract value to $1.16 billion.

Work on the Paladin M109A7 will take place at several facilities within the Company’s combat vehicles manufacturing network including: Aiken, South Carolina; Elgin, Oklahoma; Sterling Heights, Michigan; and, York, Pennsylvania.

Swiss EAGLE

General Dynamics European Land Systems-Mowag announced December 05, 2019, that it signed a contract with armasuisse on November 18th, 2019, for the delivery of 100 protected EAGLE 6×6 reconnaissance vehicles for the Swiss Army. The EAGLE 6×6 was selected after an international competition conducted by armasuisse, the Swiss federal office for defence procurement. This first order of the EAGLE 6×6 is a milestone for the latest development of the EAGLE vehicle family.

Switzerland awards contract to General Dynamics European Land Systems-Mowag to deliver 100 EAGLE 6×6 reconnaissance vehicles

The 100 EAGLE 6×6 vehicles will be the vehicle platform of the tactical reconnaissance system «TASYS». TASYS will be used to gather intelligence for the Swiss Armed Forces including support of civil authorities. It consists of an EAGLE V 6×6 carrier vehicle, a multi-sensor system mounted on a telescopic mast, and a data processing system. For self-protection, the highly-mobile EAGLE V 6×6 TASYS is armoured and equipped with a remotely controlled weapon station. The vehicle offers sufficient payload reserves to allow for future improvements, such as the integration of additional sensors. The EAGLE V 6×6 TASYS starts production in 2020 and will be fielded between 2023 and 2025.

Besides the Swiss Army the EAGLE V 4×4 is also extensively used by both Denmark and Germany, where it is very popular with the troops. The further development of the EAGLE V 4×4 into the EAGLE V 6×6 was inspired by operational experience and the need for a vehicle with increased useful volume, more payload, very compact exterior dimensions, as well as constant high mobility and maximized protection. «We are very proud that the Swiss Army is the first customer to introduce the EAGLE V 6×6», says Oliver Dürr, Vice President Wheeled Vehicles and Managing Director of General Dynamics European Land Systems-Mowag.

 

Facts about the EAGLE V

The EAGLE V is available in 4×4 and 6×6 versions and is one of the most modern protected wheeled vehicles in its class. The EAGLE has already proven its efficiency and reliability in various military missions. Due to its power reserves, the EAGLE offers an ideal platform to meet both current and future requirements. In addition to its excellent protection against mines and improvised explosive devices, the EAGLE V 6×6 offers a high payload and a large transport volume, within very compact dimensions. With its unique axle and drive system, the EAGLE V delivers off-road mobility and on-road driving safety.

Kazakh Marauder

Nursultan, Kazakhstan – November 28th, 2019 – Kazakhstan Paramount Engineering (KPE), a joint venture between the global aerospace and technology business Paramount Group and Kazakhstan Engineering, has successfully delivered a series of «Arlan» 4×4 mine-protected Armoured Wheeled Vehicles (AWVs) to Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Defense and Special Services Division.

Kazakhstan Paramount Engineering (KPE) Delivers New Batch of Armoured Vehicles to the Ministry of Defense and Special Services of the Republic of Kazakhstan

The Kazakhstan-produced Arlan, the winterized variant of Paramount’s iconic «Marauder», is a land system platform designed to operate in extreme environments to meet the extensive mission requirements undertaken by Kazakhstan’s armed forces, such as long-range border patrol or quick reaction force operations.

Kazakhstan Paramount Engineering began in-country production of the Arlan in November of 2015, with the vehicle unveiled at the ‘KADEX 2016’ Defence Expo.

The armoured vehicles are characterised by their unique, clean-sheet design, high ballistic protection and adaptability to the harsh conditions of Kazakhstan and the wider region. These features include pre-ignition engine heating, an outstanding temperature control system that can carry personnel safely and comfortably (winterized for temperatures as low as – 50 degrees Celsius/-58 degrees Fahrenheit and summer temperatures of up to 50 degrees Celsius/122 degrees Fahrenheit).

Arlan features include a modular design and double-skin monocoque, V-shaped hull structure, capable of withstanding the debris and dissipating energy of explosions while offering increased protection against mine blasts.

The vehicle provides STANAG 4569 level 3 ballistic protection against small arms ammunition and STANAG 4569 levels 3a and 3b blast protection against mine explosions, while withstanding mine blasts of 10 kg/22 lbs. Trinitrotoluene (TNT) beneath its hull, 10 kg/22 lbs. TNT beneath any wheel and a 50 kg/110 lbs. TNT side blast explosion to protect against roadside bombs and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). The vehicle is further equipped with Radiation, Chemical and Biological protection (RCB) which can address the challenges of radiation dust spread, gas and/or biological attacks, along with filter–ventilation equipment able to purify the air inside the cabin for several hours.

Despite its advanced protection and the ability to handle up to a 4,500 kg/9,921 lbs. payload, the Arlan offers unrivaled versatility in the field, reaching speeds of up to 120 km per hour/74.6 mph, while traveling up to a distance of 700 km/435 miles. The vehicle can ford at 1.2 m/3.94 feet while able to climb grades of 60% and side slopes of 35%.

The Arlan armoured vehicles are locally manufactured at the 15,000 m2 KPE armoured vehicle factory, one of the largest and most modern armoured vehicle factories in the region, with the KPE design teams proficient in customising the armoured carriers as required by customers in the region. Kazakhstan Paramount Engineering looks to further bolster the Eurasian nation’s industrial capacity development in future by expanding into new aerial, land and maritime production lines.

Ivor Ichikowitz, Group Chairman of Paramount Group said: «The strong growth of Kazakhstan Paramount Engineering, driven through indigenous manufacturing solutions, has been an important success story. The portable manufacturing model that we have pioneered around the world has enhanced indigenous capability, high-skills training and local expertise. The delivery of yet another significant batch of armoured vehicles to the customer is testament to the commitment, hard work and skills set of the KPE team. We look forward to playing a long-term role with our partners in Kazakhstan in enhancing local capabilities, fueling next-generation employment opportunities and economic growth in the process».

 

SPECIFICATIONS

GENERAL SPECIFICATIONS
Crew 2 + 1 + 6
Kerb Weight 13,500 kg/29,762.4 lbs.
Payload 2,500kg/5,511.5 lbs.
Wheelbase 3,550 mm/11.65 feet
Combat Weight – Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) 16,000 kg/35,274 lbs.
Construction Monocoque Hull (Not Chassis based)
PERFORMANCE
Max Speed-Road 68 mph/110 km/h (Burst speed)
Turning Circle 18 m/59 feet kerb to kerb
Road Range 700 km/435 miles
Engine Turbo Diesel 6 Cylinder, Intercooled, 210 kW/281.6 hp, 970 Nm/715 ft•lbs.
Power to weight ratio (kW/ton) 15 kW/T @ 13,900 kg/30,644 lbs.
Transmission Automatic 5 speed
Transfer case 2 speed
Diff Locks Air Operated Front, Center and Rear
Brakes Pneumatic, disc, Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) standard
Tyres 16.00-R20
Air-conditioner 15kW
Electrical System 24 V
Ballistic Protection

Crew Compartment

Standardization Agreement (STANAG) 4569-Level 3
Ballistic Protection

Engine Compartment

STANAG 4569-Level 1 (Grille only at 0°)
Blast Protection STANAG 4569 Level 3a & 3b

50 kg/110 lbs. TNT – side blast

OPTIONS
Radios, Intercom Systems
Add-on Armour Kits
Battlefield Management Systems
Winch
Fire suppression System
Various Weapon Stations
Public Address System
Winterisation Kit
Central Tyre Inflation System (CTIS)
Auxillary Power Unit (APU)
Front scraper blade/pushbar
Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) protection kit

 

Secure Positioning

General Dynamics Mission Systems announced today that it has installed a new and improved GPS system onto U.S. military vehicles in Germany that allows U.S. forces to operate in an environment when GPS signals are degraded or denied. Known as Mounted Assured Positioning, Navigation and Timing Data (PNT) System (MAPS) Gen 1, the system began fielding in September on select Stryker armored fighting vehicles and could eventually extend to thousands of vehicles across Europe.

Critical Technology Ensures Accurate and Trusted GPS Data for Fielded Forces in Europe

General Dynamics Mission Systems is the current provider to the U.S. Army’s MAPS Program of Record.

MAPS Gen 1 is a modular vehicle-mounted system that monitors GPS signals for validity and sends accurate data to military devices even when GPS signals are degraded or denied. Without trusted data, GPS-dependent systems fail to operate properly, hindering operational capability and soldier safety. MAPS Gen 1 is scalable and upgradable so warfighters will benefit from additional features and capabilities throughout fielding and product lifecycle. This system is now available for the U.S. Army to purchase via the Common Hardware Systems (CHS-5) contract for Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) acquisitions.

«The MAPS GEN 1 Assured PNT system that is being fielded today closes a capability gap for the U.S. Army in major areas of responsibility around the world», said Robert Horton, Vice President and Director for PNT Products at General Dynamics Mission Systems. «GPS Source employees are excited to deliver such an important capability and to contribute to the safety of America’s soldiers».

The US Army’s Project Manager for Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PM PNT) lead this initiative as the Army’s acquisition developer tasked with developing, modernizing, and integrating optimal and affordable PNT capabilities to promote decisive action in Army Operations. As part of the Program Executive Office, PM PNT collaborates with other Army and Joint Service partners to develop interoperable, reliable products to promote real-time secure PNT services for a variety of combat and combat support field missions.

Records for
indirect fire

At a test fire event on 6 November at the Alkantpan Test Range in South Africa, Rheinmetall demonstrated its extensive expertise in the world of indirect fire. In the presence of international partners and customers, the Düsseldorf, Germany-based defence contractor proved how new technologies can be used to boost the performance of systems that are already in extensive use around the world – those which meet the NATO standards set out in the Joint Ballistics Memorandum of Understanding (JBMoU) as well as non-JBMoU systems. During the event, three new maximum effective range records were set using various guns. A G6 howitzer with a 52-calibre gun achieved the longest range ever attained with a conventional 155-mm artillery round: 76 kilometres/47.2 miles, while the 52-calibre gun of PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzer lobbed a shell 67 kilometres/41.6 miles. Finally, a field howitzer with a 39-calibre gun attained a range of 54 kilometres/33.5 miles.

Rheinmetall sets three new distance records for indirect fire in South Africa

Rheinmetall Waffe and Munition, Rheinmetall’s centre of excellence for cannon technology, showcased the self-propelled howitzer PzH 2000’s main armament in action. Over the past decade, this 155-mm weapons system has proven to be one of the world’s most effective conventional artillery systems, capable of attaining the high rates of fire specified in the JBMoU. Developed and manufactured by Denel Land Systems, the G6 used at the live fire event was a new version designed to attain greater ranges in line with non-JBMoU standards.

Using the celebrated Assegai Velocity Enhanced Artillery Projectile (V-LAP) shell is an example, modular upgrades of the artillery ammunition were on show at the event. The delegations could see for themselves the marked improvement in its performance with respect both to propulsion and range when fired from 39- and 52-calibre guns. Coupled with technologies from Rheinmetall Waffe Munition and Nitrochemie, Rheinmetall Denel Munition artillery shells exceed previous maximum effective ranges when fired from any conventional 155-mm artillery system currently in use.

The maximum range of over 76 km/47.2 miles was achieved with a non-JBMoU-compliant gun. This gun served as evidence of the feasibility of a new howitzer with a range of 83 km/51.6 miles. Working in close cooperation with the German procurement authorities, Rheinmetall plans to develop and manufacture a new 155-mm gun of this type, which will feature a significantly larger chamber and a longer, 60-calibre barrel. The gun should be able to fire existing JBMoU-compliant rounds as well as new ammunition families. On the one hand, these new ammunition types will be optimized with respect to stresses occurring in the new gun, but will also be able to be fired from legacy JBMoU-compliant guns. Here, 83 kilometres/51.6 miles serves as the benchmark, since the course correction fuse necessary for precision at these ranges reduces the attainable range by approximately ten percent. This means that the maximum effective range of 75 kilometres/46.6 miles specified by the German procurement authorities is attainable.

Rheinmetall Norway’s 120-mm Ragnarok motor system and ammunition from RDM round out the Group’s indirect fire profile. This combination lends itself especially well to multipurpose vehicle applications with a rapid-fire capability. It also enables friendly forces to quickly evade counterbattery fire.

The event’s host, the German-South African joint venture Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM), welcomed participants from several NATO nations to the event in Northern Cape province on 6 November. As RDM managing director Jan-Patrick Helmsen explains, «Our goal is to be a true partner to the military. That’s why transparent cooperation and trust are so important to us. Tube artillery can provide defensive and offensive fire support. It’s cheaper and faster than rockets or air support, can operate around the clock, and engage targets with great precision using indirect fire anywhere within its range. Of course, range has proved to be a limiting factor in recent years, giving rise to the need for increased operational reach». During the event, Jan-Patrick Helmsen noted that RDM has already been working to extend the range of artillery shells for some time now. «We’re known for the Assegai family and our V-LAP round, the longest-range conventional artillery projectile. The combination of South African technology and German expertise has already resulted in enhanced range, effectiveness and precision. When it comes to artillery, Rheinmetall takes a totally holistic approach», declares Helmsen.

Night Vision

The 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team (2ABCT), 1st Infantry Division, is the first unit to receive the Enhanced Night Vision Goggle – Binocular (ENVG-B) and the Family of Weapon Sights – Individual (FWS-I). The «Dagger» Brigade received and fielded the new equipment September 23-26.

The U.S. Army’s 1st Infantry Division was the first to receive the Enhanced Night Vision Goggle – Binocular and the Family of Weapon Sights – Individual in late September; these devices increase soldiers’ lethality, mobility, and situational awareness (U.S. Army photo)

The ENVG-B and FWS-I systems are the most advanced night vision equipment in the Army.

The ENVG-B and FWS-I allow Soldiers to see through fog, dust, and smoke, in both day and night environments. The devices increase the warfighters lethality, mobility, and situational awareness through innovative and state of the art capabilities.

«The ENVG-B will truly be the greatest goggle that we’ve ever fielded», said Brigadier General Anthony W. Potts, Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier. «The thermal channel has a day-night capability and we’ve added in things like augmented reality».

2nd ABCT Soldiers spent two-days in a classroom learning the basics of the equipment, followed by hands-on training at firing ranges. «Dagger» brigade will train on the new equipment over the next several months.

«Dagger» Brigade Soldiers are the first to benefit from the collaborative efforts of Army Futures Command (AFC), PEO Soldier, Soldier Lethality-Cross Functional Team (SL-CFT), and Soldier Touchpoints. Soldiers noticed the improvements from previous generations of night vision devices.

The ENVG-B and FWS-I were designed for Soldiers by Soldiers. PEO-Soldier and SL-CFT used Soldier feedback early on in the development at events called Soldier Touchpoints. Overall, there were 11 Soldier and Marine Touchpoints. The user level input ensured the current needs of the warfighter made it to the final product.

«The last one I used is a PVS-14 Portable Visual Search and it’s a massive improvement over that one», said Private First Class Dustin Roy, Infantryman, 1st Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, 2ABCT, «I can’t even express how much better it is».

«Soldier Touchpoints along the way during a design, build, and test phase give that quick feedback to the Program Executive Officer», said Command Sergeant Major Michael A. Crosby, Army Futures Command. «What you are witnessing here today is a demonstration of rapid prototyping to meet the Army’s organizational priorities».

The ENVG-B and FWS-I give «Dagger» brigade Soldiers improved night vision capabilities, increased situational awareness, and rapid target acquisition in zero light conditions.

«We’re increasing their survivability and lethality», said Sergeant Major of the Army Michael A. Grinston. «I’m really proud that I can be a part of this».

Robotic Mules

The U.S. Army has selected General Dynamics Land Systems to produce the Small Multipurpose Equipment Transport, or S-MET, to lighten Soldiers’ loads by providing Infantry Brigade Combat Teams a robotic «mule» capability.

The S-MET program aims to lighten soldiers’ loads by providing a robotic «mule» capability. A rapid acquisition plan has allowed the US Army to field commercially available technology faster than typical processes allow (U.S. Army photo)

The contract is valued at $162.4 million to produce 624 S-METs. Delivery to Soldiers begins in the second quarter of Fiscal Year 2021.

With the S-MET (pronounced «Ess-Met») program, a phased, quicker acquisition plan allowed the Army to make informed program decisions based on direct Soldier feedback on commercially available technology – fielding equipment faster than typical processes allow.

S-MET’s basic operational capabilities include:

  • Unmanned/optionally manned system;
  • Carries 1,000 lbs./453.6 kg, reducing Soldier weight burden by 100-plus pounds each when in support of a rifle squad;
  • Operates 60-plus miles/96.5-plus km in 72 hours;
  • Generates 3 kilowatts of power (stationary) and 1 kilowatt (moving) keeping equipment and batteries charged on the move.

The Army issued a directed requirement in April 2017 for a rapid materiel acquisition aimed at unburdening infantry brigade combat teams with a robotic capability. To fast-track the acquisition process, the Army’s Program Executive Office for Combat Support & Combat Service Support, awarded S-MET Phase I Other Transaction Authority (OTA) agreements (vs. traditional Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR)-based contracting methods) in June 2017 for eight platforms.

The S-MET program marks one of the Army’s first Middle Tier Acquisitions (MTA) for Rapid Fielding. This acquisition approach foregoes the traditional Department of Defense 5000.02 acquisition process, streamlining the delivery and fielding of capabilities within a period of five years. Use of the MTA approach was granted by Congress in the Fiscal Year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act Section 804.

«The S-MET program has focused on meeting the Army’s emphasis on enhancing Soldier lethality and rapidly fielding modernized capabilities. Our product management team for Applique and Large Unmanned Ground Systems undertook a great challenge to develop a strategy using experimentation and technical demonstrations to streamline the S-MET acquisition process», said Timothy G. Goddette, the Army’s program executive officer for Combat Support and Combat Service Support.

«Using an innovative contracting approach through an Other Transaction Authority, a flexible, collaborative tool designed to speed acquisition and modernization, the S-MET team awarded this capability within two and a half years. Using normal acquisition processes, it could have taken as much as five years», he explained.

The initial candidate platforms participated in the S-MET Phase I Assessment held in September 2017 at Fort Benning, Georgia. The evaluation enabled the Army to learn about each of the candidate platforms’ capabilities and obtain operational feedback based on Soldiers’ interactions with the candidate S-MET systems. Based on the results in November 2017, the Army narrowed to four contractors to evaluate their respective platforms during a 12-month (later reduced to seven-month) S-MET Phase II Technology Demonstration.

Phase II called for each of the four selected contractors to produce 20 platforms. Four of the produced S-METs supported safety testing, Commercial-Off-the-Shelf operator manual verification, Instructor and Key Personnel Training, and Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTPs) development. Upon completion of safety testing, the Product Management Office for Applique and Large Unmanned Systems issued eight of each respective prototype S-METs to IBCTs within the 10th Mountain and the 101st Airborne Divisions in the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2019 for the seven-month Phase II Technology Demonstration. Results from the Technology Demonstration informed program decisions and further solidified S-MET TTPs.

Dismounted Infantry carry water, extra ammunition, and other equipment and gear imposing physical burden. When fielded, S-MET will unburden Soldiers and enable IBCTs to travel greater distances and carry more. Soldier experimentation, touch points, and evaluation has been key in obtaining direct warfighter feedback.

«Thanks to tremendous teamwork across the acquisition, requirements, operational, and resource communities, this is a great modernization success story», said Don Sando, director for the Maneuver Capabilities Development and Integration Directorate, Fort Benning. «Key to this success was involving Soldiers early in the process to get their input and feedback during experiments and assessments. Direct Soldier feedback drove the requirements for the S-MET, and certainly helped determine what systems would work best for IBCTs to fill a capability gap», Sando added.

This enhanced, modernized capability will unburden Soldiers of some of their physical load, thereby also improving Soldiers’ physical and cognitive capabilities. Future capability will feature modular mission payloads tailoring the S-MET to specific mission needs, such as dismounted engineer mobility systems; remote weapon stations; casualty evacuation; and unmanned aerial systems and reconnaissance.

«Getting a modernized capability into the hands of IBCT Soldiers has been the team’s driving focus throughout this program», said Lieutenant Colonel Jon Bodenhamer, the Army’s product manager for Applique and Large Unmanned Ground Systems within the Program Executive Office for Combat Support & Combat Service Support. «Soldiers are why we do what we do, and I’m incredibly proud of the hard-working team that brought us to this point».