U.S. Army updates anti-tank capabilities of platoon level by purchasing M4 CARL GUSTAF grenade launchers
Having learned the lessons of the difficult military campaigns of the early 2000s, the U.S. Army is currently deploying new weapons, equipment and equipment for its soldiers, which will help to significantly increase indicators such as mortality, combat stability and mobility. Through these purchases, the US Army also intends to reduce the load on the soldier and increase digitalization levels in order to maintain its technological advantage over equal rivals.
The American army began ambitious work to modernize in order to maintain its powerful potential and qualitative advantages over potential opponents, for example, China or Russia. As part of this process, the army went through one of its most significant reorganizations over the past 40 years, organizing the Office of Advanced Models of Armaments and Military Equipment (Office of Air Defense Forces), which was given several large-scale modernization tasks.
One of these priorities is to increase the firing efficiency of an individual soldier. To focus on this task, the Office created a special universal group CFT (Cross Functional Team). The main goal of the CFT group is to reduce the inequality of opportunities and provide these 100 thousand soldiers, risking their lives every day, with the right equipment that meets the requirements of a future battle.
The list of soldier modernization is divided into several large priority subsections: clothing and protection, communications, sighting and night vision devices, and weapon systems. One of the main goals of the Army’s POV&VT Directorate is the rapid deployment of innovative technologies in the army in order to eliminate the infamous, time-consuming Pentagon procurement processes, which often impede, rather than facilitate, modernization. Fortunately, army officials acknowledge that state and non-state actors (including corporations) were able to quickly rebuild in order to stay in demand and avoid stagnation and, as a result, negative consequences for the army’s fighting efficiency.
The latest helmet IHPS (Integrated Head Protection System)
Outfit and protection
One of the main programs of the American army in the field of equipment and protection is the new soldier protection system SPS (Soldier Protection System), which is currently supplied to the advanced units. This set of advanced personal protective equipment includes four subsystems, including: TEP body and limb protection (Torso and Extremity Protection); trunk protection VTP (Vital Torso Protection); integrated head protection system IHPS (Integrated Head Protection System); and eye protection TCEP (Transition Combat Eye Protection).
The purpose of the SPS program is to provide soldiers with fire protection weapons and fragments equal or superior to the capabilities of existing body armor and, no less important, less weight. Subsystems are adapted and tuned to various combat scenarios and provide protection for the eyes, head and neck, upper and lower torso. The wearer's limbs and pelvic area, including the femoral artery, are also protected.
“The soldiers in the unit can make various demands,” said Ginger Whitehead from the Office for the Design and Execution of Soldier Equipment Programs (hereinafter referred to as the Office of Soldier Programs) regarding the adaptability of SPS. - I want to wear less, because this threat is specific and I am going to take this risk. Or I'm going to put on everything that I have, because the risk is extremely high, which means a little more weight. But we need protection. The combat equipment of the Soldier Protection System enables us to scale the defense, which we did not have in the past. ”
The TER subsystem from the SPS kit consists of a modular vest made of protective fabric MSV (Modular Scalable Vest) with the possibility of adding a BCS shirt (Ballistic Combat Shirt) to protect your hands, as well as anti-explosion protection of the pelvic part and bulletproof belt, which allows you to distribute the weight from the shoulders to the hips.
According to Whitehead, the MSV vest is the pride of the SPS system, as it expands its capabilities with various protection options and a four-point quick-detachable system, “which is especially important when you are in a burning car or a falling airplane,” she said.
MSV replaces the standard IOTV vest (Improved Outer Tactical Vest) and in its lightest version can be worn covertly under outer clothing. The new bulletproof shirt also replaces the deltoid protection system, which was part of the previous IOTV variant. As Whitehead remarked, this new shirt is the only SPS that is gender-specific, including a V-neckline for women pulling a bun. This is especially important for women in a prone position, as it guarantees the correct operation of the scope. The shirt for women also features shorter sleeves and a wider corset belt at the waist.
Allowing women to take part in hostilities means that the development of SPS outfits should have been appropriate for soldiers of both sexes. In this regard, a transition was made from the mechanism of X-shaped fixation to H-shaped (again for women collecting hair in a bun) plus the choice of sizes of ballistic plates was expanded. According to Whitehead, the increase in the number of plate sizes available to soldiers is “not entirely positive experience gained in Afghanistan and Iraq, where the standard approach of“ one size fits all ”was widely used.
These ballistic plates - front and rear body plates, as well as side plates - form part of the VTP trunk protection system and were supplied by BAE Systems and ZM / Ceradyne for the manufacture of the installation lot. This year, the army tested a lighter version of VTP, although limited information is available. Whitehead said the army is “not quite happy yet,” since the mass production of the new VTP body armor is likely to begin in about a year and a half.
At the end of 2018, the army signed a € 34 million contract with ZM / Ceradyne for the supply of IHPS helmets. This helmet can be equipped with various accessories, for example, jaw protection, a transparent visor, a place for night vision goggles, guides and patch bulletproof inserts to enhance protection.
[quote] "We are quickly moving towards the creation of a complete set of equipment and it is exciting that in the not-so-distant future we will be able to provide soldiers with all the necessary subsystems and, as a result, they will be able to more effectively carry out dangerous and complex tasks," [/ quote]
The new Soldier Protection System (SPS) is currently being supplied to advanced units.
These boots are for the military
Since the beginning of this year, the Soldier Center in Natick has tested under new conditions the new prototypes of Army Combat Boots. Despite the emergence of new technologies and materials, the current generation of DIAs has not changed significantly since 2010, although this could increase the soldier's capabilities as well as the level of comfort.
[quote] "Recently, serious progress has been made in the field of army footwear for the jungle, mountainous terrain and cold climates, but there are great opportunities for improving universal boots designed for new recruits," [quote]
- remarked the head of the DIA program.
After the army polled 14000 soldiers around the world, these developments received a new impetus. The results showed that 50% of respondents would choose finished commercial products, rather than those that were given to them. Although soldiers believe that off-the-shelf boots generally offer better comfort and less time for them to “wear out”, in practice they demonstrate completely unsatisfactory characteristics regarding service life and protection.
The main goal of this program is to reduce the weight of shoes, which was made possible thanks to progress in the field of materials. Reducing the weight of combat equipment, in particular shoes, ensures the maintenance of combat effectiveness and the readiness of soldiers.
In the field of equipment, the army also wants to improve its shaggy-style camouflage suits for snipers. It is planned that the current fire-resistant camouflage suit FRGS (Flame Resistant Ghillie System) as part of the IGS (Improved Ghillie System) program will be replaced by a new, cheaper system with a higher level of modularity. The new camouflage suit will be more breathable than the current FRGS, which is too bulky and gets very hot at high temperatures. It is planned to purchase about 3500 new costumes for regular and special forces.
The Soldier Center and the Office for the Development and Execution of Soldier Equipment Programs also jointly worked on the improved combat equipment for the hot climate IHWCU (Improved Hot Weather Combat Uniform), which is designed to increase the soldier's capabilities - survivability, mortality and safety in extremely hot and humid climates . IHWCU has a reduced drying time due to the fabric, which consists of 57% high-strength nylon and 43% cotton. Next year, the costume will be available to all US Army soldiers as an optional component of equipment.
The combat equipment IHWCU (Improved Hot Weather Combat Uniform) is designed to increase the soldier's abilities - survivability, mortality and safety in extremely hot and humid climates
The U.S. Army is in the process of procuring several new weapons systems that will significantly increase firepower in combat at the unit and individual soldier levels. Among them can be called a new rifle, pistol, a system for snipers and shooters of the lowest category, as well as improved anti-tank weapons. The largest and most noticeable is the NGSW (Next Generation Squad Weapons) program, in which the M4 / M4A1 carbine and the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon 5.56x45 mm caliber automatic rifle will be replaced with weapons chambered for a larger caliber. The program provides for the accelerated creation of a prototype and the purchase of the NGSW-Rifle rifle and the NGSW-Automatic Rifle automatic rifle, which can fire a universal cartridge of 6,8 mm caliber.
This transition was launched several years ago due to the fact that the army recognized the negative experience of campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. The 5.56x45 mm cartridge has several drawbacks, especially when it comes to breaking through a new generation of body armor and the necessary stopping power at long distances. The representative of the American army explained that the 5.56x45 mm NATO standard cartridge ultimately lacks mass, while the larger 7.62x51 mm cartridge does not have the desired aeroballistic characteristics.
“This meant that we needed something from the area of the intermediate caliber,” he said. After several years of scientific research, many of which are still classified, as well as the results of a 2017 study on small arms ammunition SAAC (Small Arms Ammunition Configuration), it was determined that a new military cartridge of 6,8 mm caliber could become optimal decision. The bullet of this cartridge is not only capable of penetrating new generation bulletproof vests, its aeroballistic characteristics determine a more flat trajectory, which increases accuracy at long distances.
Last January, as part of a request for possible prototype development, the army published a more detailed description of the NGSW program. It says that the army will issue orders to three companies for three prototypes of OTA (Other Transaction Agreement), each company will develop two types of weapons. Under each OTA agreement, 53 NGSW-R rifles, 43 NGSW-AR automatic rifles, 845000 rounds, spare parts, test barrels, tools / calibers / accessories, design support will be delivered.
The latter includes two prototype tests — one in May 2020 for three months and in January 2021 for six months — and the so-called “contact points,” when soldiers of existing units will be given the opportunity to test these weapons. In addition to the 6,8 mm bullet, industry is given freedom regarding the type of cartridge case, powder charge and capsule.
For example, Textron Systems was the first to develop telescopic liner technology (this configuration allowed it to reduce weight by 40%), and recently announced that it had supplied a prototype to the Soldier Center as part of the NGSW-Technology program, which is developing technologies for the NGSW weapons complex. Other technologies that could be used include a liner made of lighter materials, such as polymers.
An army spokesman explained that these accelerated prototype developments were aimed at ensuring that industry did most of the work itself and “did not pay attention to directions on how to work.”
The NGSW OTA agreements have in fact passed verification of compliance with standard federal laws; this means issuing a contract for initial production - possibly up to 250000 barrels - which can be signed without further competition. The NGSW program schedule provides for equipping the first unit by the end of 2022.
The army also wants to purchase a fire control system (LMS) for NGSW weapons with the intention of creating a prototype and conducting tests for 14 months. The need for modern SLAs was voiced in the same SAAC study, which identified a caliber of 6,8 mm. It also notes that the LMS will become "the main factor in increasing the overall fire efficiency of the system."
Proposals from the industry were received in November 2019, and competitive samples should be submitted in January of this year. Selected applicants must supply 100 MSAs and associated spare parts and tools that will pass tests and several “touch points”. Request for proposals and subsequent contracts for the production of SLAs can be issued already in 2021, which will coincide with the deployment of NGSW rifles.
In the near future, the army will receive a new 7.62x51 caliber 28x1 CSASS (Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System) sniper rifle based on the Heckler & Koch G2020 rifle, as well as a modification known as the SDM-R (Squad Designated Marksman Rifle). This will satisfy the need for a standard high-precision long-range rifle for infantry, reconnaissance and engineering units. Last year, soldiers from the 5000st Stryker brigade tested the SDM-R rifle, according to which it was decided in XNUMX to supply about XNUMX units to the troops.
Another weapon system is currently being deployed in large quantities - the Sig Sauer M17 pistol and the compact M18 pistol, selected to fulfill the requirements for the 2017 Modular MHS (Modular Handgun System) pistol. In July, it was announced that the M17 / M18 pair, along with their respective Winchester ammunition, was approved by the Soldier Program Office. To date, over 59000 pistols have been delivered and an additional 5 systems will be purchased in the next 7-350000 years. M17 / M18 pistols, replacing the outdated Beretta M9 model, will serve as a defense weapon and an additional weapon system.
As part of the effort to upgrade its anti-tank capabilities of a platoon level, the U.S. Army will also replenish its arsenals with the latest version of the Saab 84-mm CARL GUSTAF recoilless grenade launcher. In February, it was announced that the army and Saab had signed an agreement to supply the latest version of the M4 CARL GUSTAF, which received the designation MZE1 in the US Army. The M4 grenade launcher is lighter than its predecessors, while it is possible to integrate an MSA capable of programming grenades, which significantly increases their fire efficiency and accuracy.
A soldier from the 1st Stryker Brigade fires from the new, newly developed SDM-R sniper rifle (Squad Designated Marksman Rifle)
Aiming systems and night vision
Along with the purchase of a CARL GUSTAF M4 grenade launcher, the U.S. Army is also ready to increase the accuracy and lethality of existing MH options, which still remain in its arsenals, especially in night operations and in conditions of limited visibility. It is planned to install an integrated thermal imaging sight ITWS (Integrated Thermal Weapon Sight) on the CARL GUSTAF grenade launcher. The ITWS scope includes the AN / PAS-13E TWS thermal imager and the AN / PSQ-23A STORM (Small Tactical Optical Rifle Mounted) laser rangefinder. At the end of 2018, in the Fort Drama, the location of the 10th Mountain Rifle Division, the Office of the Soldier Programs conducted live-fire tests. “The integration of TWS / STORM with the MZ grenade launcher provides anti-tank calculation with a new level of mortality, which allows you to accurately hit targets at night, as well as in conditions of limited visibility and even in its absence,” the representative of the Office said.
Under the FWS (Family of Weapon Sights) program, the army will receive thermal imaging sights for its individual, sniper and group weapon systems, respectively FWS-I, FWS-S and FWS-CS. The main idea of the FWS program is to give soldiers a removable thermal imaging sight that can wirelessly transmit images from weapons to ENVG III (Enhanced Night Vision Goggle III) glasses and ENVG-Binocular binoculars; this feature is called “quick target capture”. Leonardo DRS and BAE Systems are the lead contractors in this program.
One of the key priorities of the CFT universal group is the adoption of ENVG-B binoculars for supply, which the army command gives top priority. The ENVG-B binocular implements the technology of merging images from two channels - brightness enhancement and thermal imaging - the binocular configuration improves depth perception. Since the ENVG-B binoculars are a digital system, various icons can also be superimposed on the thermal image, including the location of your forces and the compass display.
“The system has proven successful with our rangers and foot soldiers. They used night vision goggles in the daytime, which accelerated the learning process and facilitated a faster transition from the lowest rifle category to the highest, ”said a representative of the Office of Soldier Systems. “This is more than we thought.” I shot wearing these glasses. It was the best of all that I tried throughout my service in the army. " He added that the first unit to be equipped with ENVG-B binoculars will be an armored brigade deployed in South Korea.
The next generation of night vision technology may appear in the form of an integrated Visual Augmentation System (IAVS) system IAVS, which was developed using Microsoft's HoloLens technology and which will allow you to take augmented reality technology to the next level. He noted that the first phase of the IVAS program has now been completed and three more stages remain. The army hopes to transfer the IVAS system to the soldiers by the end of 2022.
This technology will be able to maximize its potential by integrating with the situation awareness system of a dismounted commander known as NETT WARRIOR (NW). Branch commanders currently use a small device that is part of NW, which allows them to see the positions of other commanders, images from platforms such as drones, as well as orders and data from the upper echelons. In the future, most of the data will be output to the IAVS system (in fact, an indication in the style of a fighter pilot), which will significantly increase the level of knowledge of the situation and the efficiency of tasks.
Purchases of new means of defense, equipment, weapons systems and night vision devices are expected to significantly increase the capabilities of melee units. The reorganization of the American army and the formation of the Command of promising weapons and military equipment that controls the modernization process are also encouraging about its future, especially against the background of bloody asymmetric campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the case of the successful implementation of this modernization, the US army will be able to easily maintain a qualitative advantage over future potential rivals.