Tag Archives: Marines

New Flash-Bang Launcher Expands Marines’ Non-Lethal Capability

By on Thursday, September 4th, 2014

For Marines running roadblocks and vehicle check points, identifying an oncoming vehicle as a threat is a decision that has to happen quickly and at standoff range because lives are on the line. A new system being fielded to II and III Marine Expeditionary Forces, Reserve Units and Marine Corps Forces Central Command will give Marines more certainty when distinguishing friend or foe.

The Non-Lethal/Tube Launched Munition System is a vehicle-mounted 40mm grenade launcher, which has a digital fire control and can shoot between one and 30 non-lethal rounds, depending upon the need. The rounds, which contain four flash-bang submunitions and fire from three banks of 10 launchers set for distances up to 100 meters, are visible out to 600 meters. The ammunition is an “all-up round,” meaning there is no assembly or disassembly required.

“Marines require something to be able to hail and warn from a distance” said Anita Tate, non-lethal team lead for NL/TLMS for Marine Corps Systems Command’s Infantry Weapons Systems. “What we have is a very safe, very easy-to-use system that will allow Marines guarding military checkpoints to better determine the intent of an approaching vehicle.”

Tate and the rest of the non-lethal team from MCSC are responsible for the acquisition and sustainment of the NL/TLMS.

The system is made to be mounted onto the turrets of Marine vehicles — Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles and Humvees — or on ground tripods. On vehicle turrets, the NL/TLMS is mounted just to the left of the turret’s main weapon to allow for quick change between systems.

Every second matters, according to Tate. “These decisions are so quick,” she said. “In the past, that’s where uncertainty has made a difference: You have to protect yourself and your fellow Marines, but you don’t want to open fire on an unarmed vehicle. There’s a lot of pressure. This system allows you to make that decision quickly and with a clear conscience.”

Relieving that pressure is part of why non-lethal systems are so important to the military, according to Kelley Hughes, spokesperson for the Department of Defense Non-Lethal Weapons Program.

“Non-lethal weapons are designed and employed to achieve military objectives while minimizing human casualties or damage to property and equipment,” Hughes said. “Non-lethal weapons can also help clarify intent of an adversary,” she added.

During a train-the-trainer event aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina, Marines had the opportunity to learn about the NL/TLMS.

After a morning in the classroom, Marines got to fire flash-bang rounds from the system. “I was pretty excited, we haven’t had much hands-on with it,” said 1st Lt. Adam Flannery. “It made a lot of noise and some pretty big bangs.”

As a part of the 2nd Law Enforcement Battalion, Flannery might make different use of the NL/TLMS. “It will be pretty useful in crowd dispersal or riot control,” he said. “It definitely expands our non-lethal capability.”

Also from 2nd LEB, 1st Lt. Josh Schubert appreciated how intuitive it was to operate the system. “It’s very user friendly,” he said. “It’s electric and has a remote control that looks like a video game controller — black plastic with red and yellow buttons on it. Pretty much every Marine who took the short course was able to step right up and use it without much problem.”

Flannery and Schubert were both interested in the possibility of other non-lethal munitions but were happy about the capability Marines were gaining. “It extends the range of our non-lethal systems,” Schubert said. “We can get a lot of non-lethal munitions downrange in the event of a disturbance.”

Fielding of the NL/TLMS to Marine units in the continental United States should be completed in early winter.

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Marines, Soldiers Test New Blue Force Tracking System At NIE 14.2

Transforming the way units communicate and navigate, the Army’s next generation situational awareness and friendly force tracking system received an unprecedented workout.

Marines and Soldiers fought side-by-side to test the capability known as Joint Battle Command-Platform, known as JBC-P, during the Army’s Network Integration Evaluation 14.2, which concluded on May 22.

“Over the past 10-plus years of working together in Afghanistan and Iraq, the interoperability of the services has increased,” said Lt. Col. Jeff Stevenson, battalion commander for the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment. “Any time there’s an opportunity to bring everyone together and work through those things in a peacetime type exercise such as an NIE (network integration evaluation), it helps us so we’re not learning those lessons as we go forward into a combat zone.”

Primarily used in vehicles, JBC-P helps reduce the “fog of war” by showing a complete picture of the battlefield so units can synchronize operations. Similar to a Global Positioning System used commercially, the capability provides users with the whereabouts of friendly platforms as they travel across the battlefield. Users can also plot the locations of enemy forces and hazards, such as bridges, minefields and explosives. Today, that information is also being delivered down to the dismounted Soldier through the Army’s handheld mission command system, known as Nett Warrior.

One of four systems under formal test at NIE 14.2, JBC-P was built on user feedback and designed with today’s tech-savvy Soldier in mind, featuring touch-to-zoom maps, drag-and-drop icons and a Google Earth-like interface.

“This interface is far more user-friendly,” said 1st Lt. Jeffrey Weinmeister, assistant operations officer with the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment. “It makes it very easy for the first-time user to effectively perform command and control operations. The reliability of the system has allowed us to use it over very difficult terrain here, as well as communicate from significant distances and maintain our situational awareness of the battlefield.”

Described as having ‘eyes on the battlefield,’ JBC-P brings a faster satellite network, secure data encryption and improved chat messaging. It is the latest incarnation of the widely fielded friendly force tracking system known as Force XXI Battle Command Brigade-and-Below/Blue Force Tracking, which is integrated on more than 120,000 platforms, resides in each Tactical Operations Center and is fielded or authorized to every brigade combat team in the Army.

The 900 Marines fought alongside the Army’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, at Fort Bliss, Texas, as part of NIE 14.2, the seventh in the Army’s series of semi-annual field exercises designed to accelerate and improve the way communications technologies are delivered to Soldiers. The Marine battalion was part of increased joint and multinational participation in NIE 14.2 in conjunction with the Joint Staff-led BoldQuest exercise.

The main focus of NIE 14.2 was the follow-on tests for the HMS Manpack radio, JBC-P and the Unmanned Aerial System-Tactical Common Data Link/Universal Ground Station, as well as an operational test for the smartphone-like Nett Warrior system. During the event, which also included 12 systems under evaluation and 15 demonstration systems, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, and its joint and multinational partners conducted the full range of military operations across harsh terrain.

“This allows us to know where the enemies are, so I can make sure our guys aren’t going too far into a danger zone,” said Lance Cpl. John Allen Sargent with the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment. “Everyone should have this. The chat function allows you to get with everyone all at once, and speak back and forth as fast as can be so information gets to you a lot faster.”

First Lt. Adam E. Martin, a platoon leader with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, agreed, saying the system supported faster and more effective operations.

“When I’m in the middle of a fight, and I’m trying to move my platoon and talk to my platoon, instead of calling them up, right away I can pop the icon up and type a quick message and it’s already on there and my TOC (tactical operations center) is tracking,” Martin said. “The maps are a lot more detailed and it’s more intuitive. You can color code your platoons or your trucks, so when you have 100 dots on a map, you can easily pick out who’s who.”

Developed by Product Manager JBC-P, assigned to the Army’s Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications-Tactical, JBC-P has undergone several successful risk reduction events leading up to its test at the NIE. Results are expected this summer with fielding to begin later this year.

Since their launch in 2011, the NIEs have evaluated more than 170 systems and helped integrate, refine and validate Capability Set 13, the Army’s first integrated network package providing mobile communications down to the dismounted Soldier. JBC-P will be part of Capability Set 14 and follow-on capability sets.

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Marines Deploy with First, Unmanned RQ-21A Blackjack System

The Department of the Navy’s new, versatile small unmanned aircraft system made its first operational deployment overseas at the end of April with a Marine UAS squadron.

Marines from Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron (VMU) 2, located at Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, North Carolina, will use its small UAS, RQ-21A Blackjack, for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance ground missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

“Blackjack will bring new capabilities to the warfighter and provide them greater target acquisition capability with multiple plug-and-play sensors allowing them to stay ahead of the threat,” said Col. Jim Rector, Navy and Marine Corps Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems program manager who oversees the RQ-21A program. “It is a tremendous accomplishment for the Marines, government and industry team to see it deploy for its first operational mission.”

RQ-21A has a significantly larger payload, mass, volume and power than other small UAS used by Marines in theater today, he said.

The system can carry multi-intelligence payloads including day and night full-motion video cameras, an infrared marker, a laser range finder, a communications relay package and automatic identification system receivers.

The RQ-21A Blackjack system, produced by Insitu, Inc., is comprised of five air vehicles, two ground control systems, and launch and recovery support equipment. It will provide the Navy and Marine Corps warfighter with immediate situational awareness via visual, voice communication and other multi-intelligence data collection capabilities.

The expeditionary nature of the RQ-21A, which does not require a runway for launch and recovery, makes it possible to deploy a multi-intelligence-capable UAS with minimal footprint from ships. This is critical for amphibious operations that Marine Expeditionary Units conduct in in access-denied environments, Rector said.

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Northrop to Provide Dismounted IED Jammers for US Marines

The U.S. Marine Corps has selected Northrop Grumman Corporation (NOC) to provide electronic jamming backpack systems to counter the threat of roadside improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Under the Counter Radio-controlled IED Electronic Warfare Marine Expeditionary Unit Special Operation Capable, or CREW MEU (SOC), contract, Northrop Grumman will deliver and support five initial production systems for testing.

The maximum ceiling for the firm-fixed-price, indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ), multiple award contract is $90 million over five years. The initial contract awarded to Northrop Grumman by PMS (Program Manager, Ships)–408 via the Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., was $4.1 million for five initial CREW MEU (SOC) systems. The Navy will purchase an indefinite number of systems in accordance with an IDIQ award.

Northrop Grumman is offering its Freedom 240 for CREW MEU (SOC) that provides precision electronic jamming of a wide range of IEDs and is designed to create a protective barrier around a Marine ground combat team and their equipment while minimizing disruption to friendly communications systems.

The Freedom 240 dismounted system is part of the Joint CREW Increment 1 Build 1 (I1B1) family of precision multifunctional electronic warfare systems that protect warfighters, vehicles, watercraft and permanent structures from IEDs. The CREW MEU (SOC) and JCREW I1B1 programs are managed by the U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA).

“Our troops face the IED threat around the world, and these Marine Expeditionary Units are the ones that go to the most dangerous places at a moment’s notice. Northrop Grumman’s Freedom 240 dismounted system is lightweight, powerful and designed to keep up with these hard-fighting Marines,” said Mike Twyman, sector vice president and general manager, Defense Systems division, Northrop Grumman Information Systems.

“The Freedom 240 is designed to defeat complex clusters of current, emerging and future IED threats. It’s also capable of worldwide deployment with only software changes. Because the system features a fully open architecture common across all the JCREW I1B1 variants, the Marine Corps can take advantage of technologies developed by third parties and benefit from the system’s flexibility, extensibility, ease of upgrades and reduced lifecycle cost,” said Jeannie Hilger, vice president, Network Communication Systems business, Northrop Grumman Information Systems. “This award perpetuates the Northrop Grumman Freedom product line, providing the Marine Corps with a software-defined system that supports CREW and enabling future multifunction radio frequency capabilities.”

Northrop Grumman Corporation was awarded $14.1 million in January 2013 to complete development of the JCREW I1B1 through the development and demonstration phase in preparation for Milestone C. NAVSEA previously awarded Northrop Grumman a JCREW 3.3 development contract with options in October 2009. JCREW 3.3 is now referred to as JCREW I1B1.

Work on CREW MEU (SOC) will be performed in San Diego.

Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in unmanned systems, cyber, C4ISR, and logistics and modernization to government and commercial customers worldwide.

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US Marines Test LAV-AT Anti-tank Modernization Upgrade

Marine Corps Light Armored Vehicle Anti-Tank prototypes are in the midst of developmental tests of upgrades that could extend their lives for decades to come. The modernization program is taking shape at various sites throughout the country.

Development of the LAV-ATs has already successfully met threshold testing as four of the prototypes have fired 14 missiles at government facilities. In mid-March, the vehicles were put through a swim test and landing craft air cushion tests at the Amphibious Vehicle Test Branch at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

“The LAV-AT modernization program is designed to improve mission effectiveness and supportability for Marines,” said Col. Mark Brinkman, LAV program manager.

Embedded in their original design, LAVs combine speed, maneuverability and firepower to perform a variety of functions, including security, command and control, reconnaissance and assault.

“They can operate on land and in water, carry communications equipment and provide a weapons platform,” Brinkman said. “The LAV isn’t just part of a combined arms force—it is one.”

In upcoming tests, the LAV-ATs will engage in electromagnetic environmental effects developmental tests at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., and reliability, availability and maintainability, and performance tests at Yuma Proving Grounds, Ariz.

“The LAV has proved its worth since initial fielding in 1983,” Brinkman said. “The Marine Corps is committed to ensuring this platform remains viable until at least 2035.”

With the LAV’s future role for the Marine Corps in mind, government developmental tests started in December 2013. As of March 2014, no significant issues have surfaced. An operational assessment will follow developmental testing in late 2014. The initial production contract is expected to be awarded in September 2015.

In April 2012, the Marine Corps through Program Manager LAV awarded a contract to develop and integrate an anti-tank weapon system on four LAV-ATs.

The new anti-tank weapon system, or ATWS, will fire the Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire-guided/radio frequency family of missiles. The system uses the Modified Improved Target Acquisition System for sighting and fire-control functions.

The new ATWS turret system will provide an enhanced capability over the existing sighting system, according to Brinkman. It will provide a second-generation forward looking infra-red, far target location and ability to acquire targets on the move. The ATWS system will have commonality with the already fielded Saber system to increase supportability and readiness in the field.

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US Marines Begins Testing Oshkosh Defense P-19R

Oshkosh Defense, a division of Oshkosh Corporation, has delivered three Oshkosh P-19 Replacement Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) vehicle prototypes to the U.S. Marine Corps to undergo testing.

The Marine Corps selected the Oshkosh P-19R in May 2013 to serve as the Marines’ off-road firefighting vehicle of the future. Oshkosh will display the P-19R at Marine West, Jan. 29-30, at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif.

“We delivered three P-19R prototypes in December and will support them as they undergo rigorous government testing through this summer,” said John Bryant, senior vice president of Defense Programs for Oshkosh Defense. “The Oshkosh P-19R will replace the fleet of Oshkosh P-19A ARFF vehicles, which were first fielded with the Marine Corps in 1984 and are reaching the end of their service lives. With this vehicle, we’ve rolled into one platform our decades of experience producing military and ARFF vehicles to give Marines more advanced firefighting capabilities.”

The next-generation Oshkosh P-19R is based on the proven Oshkosh Logistics Vehicle System Replacement (LVSR) platform. It incorporates the latest tactical wheeled vehicle technologies to support fire emergency missions at military bases and expeditionary airfields.

The Oshkosh TAK-4 independent suspension system – today’s gold standard for heavy, medium and light tactical wheeled vehicles that are required to operate off-road – gives Marines greater all-terrain performance for off-runway emergencies. The Oshkosh Command Zone integrated diagnostics and automation system helps crews carry out firefighting missions with increased situational awareness.

Oshkosh Defense leveraged the expertise of the Oshkosh Airport Products Group, the industry-leading ARFF vehicle producer, to equip the Oshkosh P-19R with the advanced Striker firefighting systems. The P-19R also meets the modern requirements of the NFPA 414 standard, which sets the design, performance and acceptance criteria for ARFF vehicles.

Oshkosh Defense leadership will be available to discuss the P-19R and the company’s broad portfolio of vehicles, technologies and services at Marine West at booth #8.

Oshkosh Defense is a leading provider of tactical wheeled vehicles and life cycle sustainment services. For more than 90 years, Oshkosh has been mobilizing military and security forces around the globe by offering a full portfolio of heavy, medium, light and highly protected military vehicles to support our customers’ missions.

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Crisis Response Marines Familiarize Italian Naval Aviation with Osprey

By on Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

TARANTO-GROTTAGLIE AIR BASE, Italy: Members of Special Purpose-Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response, or SP-MAGTF Crisis Response, visited Taranto-Grottaglie Air Base, Italy, June 28, to familiarize Italian naval aviation leaders with the MV-22 Osprey and to also celebrate the 100th anniversary of Italian naval aviation.

SP-MAGTF Crisis Response is a rotational force of approximately 500 Marines and sailors, tasked to respond to crises in the U.S. Africa Command area of responsibility, sourced from a variety of Marine Corps units to include II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

The Marines brought two Ospreys to the air base and conducted a capabilities brief and a static display of the aircraft, followed by a familiarization flight, in which Italian Admiral Giuseppe De Giorgi, chief of the Italian Navy; Italian Rear Admiral Paolo Treu, chief of Italian Naval Aviation; and Italian Vice Admiral Filippo Foffi, chief of the Italian Fleet, flew aboard the aircraft with Lt. Col. Christian Harshberger, Aviation Combat Element commanding officer for SP-MAGTF Crisis Response.

“Italy doesn’t currently have an aircraft that is both capable of vertical take-off and also can carry troops and cargo, so this was an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the capabilities of the MV-22,” said Capt. Nicholas Arnold, a SP-MAGTF Crisis Response MV-22 Osprey pilot and weapons and tactics instructor. “The leadership here seemed genuinely interested in the aircraft and impressed with its capabilities.”

The Marine Corps and Italian aviators share a bond in that both services attend the U.S. Naval flight schools in Pensacola, Fla., and Corpus Christi, Texas. They recognized this bond during the visit, which corresponded with the 100th anniversary of Italian Naval Aviation.

“The Corps and Italian Navy have a common bond that we were able to build upon here,” Arnold, a Buffalo, N.Y. native, added. “I think that bond is important and only improves our relationship here in Italy.”

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