Tag Archives: Army Technology

Army’s Infantry Squad Vehicle Sparks Robust Competition

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SAIC-Polaris DAGOR

NATIONAL DEFENSE MAGAZINE

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.

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.”

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“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.

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. “

https://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/articles/2020/2/14/armys-infantry-squad-vehicle-sparks-robust-competition

US Army 2019 Top 10 Science And Technology Advances

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All Photos in this Article are Screenshots from CCDC ARL video

BUSINESS INSIDER

These are potentially game-changing developments intended to help Army soldiers fight and win on future battlefields.

The list includes research and development efforts in material science, robotics, and artificial intelligence.

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“US Army researchers and engineers have been busy this year, developing new capabilities and technologies meant to help modernize the force.

Alexander Kott, the chief scientist at Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory, recently picked the Army’s top 10 science and technology advancements of 2019

Kott told Insider the research projects he selected were “the ones that had the potential for a long-term game change — something that could actually lead to a major change in future capabilities and, at the same time, that was well grounded in foundational science and technology.”

Here is what made the list.

10. Artificial muscles for tougher robots.

The Army wants to give robots artificial muscles to make them stronger than ever
The Army wants to give robots artificial muscles to make them stronger than ever. 

The Army is looking at building stronger robots through the development of artificial muscles made from twisted, coiled plastic fibers with the ability to contract and expand under the influences of various stimuli, effectively mimicking the way muscles naturally function.

9. Biorecognition receptors for real-time monitoring of soldier health and performance.

The Army wants to be able to monitor soldier health and performance in real time
The Army wants to be able to monitor soldier health and performance in real time. 

Army researchers are working to develop small, inexpensive, rugged peptide-based biorecognition receptors that are more capable than standard antibody receptors and can be integrated into wearable biosensors to provide immediate real-time information on a soldier’s health and performance.

8. Water-based, fire-proof batteries.

The battery is much safer than traditional lithium-ion batteries
The battery is much safer than traditional lithium-ion batteries. 

The Army has developed new aqueous lithium-ion batteries that use a nonflammable, water-based solvent and lithium salt that is not sensitive to heat.

The service has replaced the highly flammable electrolyte in current lithium-ion batteries and created a power source that can be safely stored at varied temperatures.

7. Immediate power from water-based liquids.

The Army is developing ways to get on-demand power from hydrogen extracted from water-based liquids
The Army is developing ways to get on-demand power from hydrogen extracted from water-based liquids. 

Army researchers are looking at ways they might extract hydrogen for power generation from water-based liquids, including urine, using a stable, aluminum-based nongalvonic alloy tablet that reacts with the water.

This approach could work for lights or radios in situations in which there may not be other suitable power options available.

6. Incredibly strong 3D printed steel.

A piece of incredibly-strong, 3D-printed steel
A piece of incredibly-strong, 3D printed steel. 

The Army has figured out how to 3D print steel that is 50% stronger than anything available commercially.

Army experts expect this capability to improve logistics by giving soldiers the ability to produce tough spare parts for tanks and other systems in the field.

5. Interest detection to determine what grabs a soldier’s attention in battle.

The US Army wants to be able to determine what stimuli soldiers are most likely to react to in battle
The US Army wants to be able to determine what stimuli soldiers are most likely to react to in battle. 

Army researchers have been monitoring soldier brain waves to track neural activity and responses to environmental stimuli to determine what grabs a soldier’s attention on the battlefield.

The Army expects this research to lead to improvements in situational awareness, command decision-making, and future manned-unmanned teaming.

4. Artificial intelligence that can find fuel-efficient materials for improved fuel cells.

The Army, through Army-funded researchers, is looking at ways to use AI to find fuel-efficient materials to develop improved fuel cells
The Army, through Army-funded researchers, is looking at ways to use AI to find fuel-efficient materials to develop improved fuel cells. 

Army-funded researchers have developed a system of algorithmic bots called Crystal that can sort through a myriad of possible element combinations to advance material-science research, including the search for fuel-efficient materials for improved fuel cells.

3. Robotic arrays for communication.

The Army is working on new ways for soldiers to communicate with other warfighters in complex battlespaces
The Army is working on new ways for soldiers to communicate with other warfighters in complex battlefields. 

The Army has managed to create small robots equipped with compact, low-frequency antennas and artificial-intelligence systems that allow the wheeled vehicles to organize themselves into an array, creating a new way for soldiers to effectively communicate in challenging battlefield environments.

2. Self-repairing materials.

The 3D-printed material is self-healing at room temperature and does not require any external stimuli
The 3D printed material is self-healing at room temperature and does not require any external stimuli. 

Army researchers have developed a synthetic material, specifically a 3D printed reversible cross-linking epoxy, that can repair itself when damaged. The repair process can occur at room temperature without additional stimuli or the application of a healing agent.

1. Robots that can operate on any future battlefield, no matter what that combat space looks like.

A tracked robot dragging what appears to be a barrier
A tracked robot dragging what appears to be a barrier. 

The Army is essentially creating a robot brain that can think its way through unfamiliar situations by developing algorithms and capabilities that will allow unmanned systems to operate in any environment, no matter what the future battlefield looks like.”

https://www.businessinsider.com/us-army-picks-top-science-and-tech-advances-from-2019-2019-12


Army To Kick Off IT-As-A-Service Procurement

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“FEDSCOOP”

“The Army has issued a request for information to help guide its development of an Enterprise IT-as-a-Service (EITaaS) procurement pilot

EITaaS will leverage industry best practices and capabilities from the private sector to assess whether commercial solutions can provide standardized, innovative, and agile IT services to the Army.”

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“The service issued the solicitation earlier this month in search of commercial, vendor-owned IT services, rather than building out and maintaining the tech on its own. The pilot will apply to network, end user and compute and storage needs.

“With the assumption that a wholly service-owned and service-operated model could sub-optimize Army operational readiness, the Army is exploring a new approach for delivering enterprise network and core IT services: Enterprise IT as a Service (EITaaS). The EITaaS pilot will assess feasibility and deploy commercial solutions for data transport, end-user device provision, and cloud services for selected Army installations,” the RFI states. “An initial EITaaS pilot will allow the Army to evaluate commercial solutions and their ability to strengthen enterprise IT service delivery, improve user experience and integrate with existing government-only systems, architecture, processes and facilities, while maintaining an aggressive cybersecurity posture.”

The Army plans to host an industry day at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, May 7, to provide an overview of the procurement and the planned use of other transaction agreements (OTAs) for pilots to test the concept. Those who wish to attend have until April 29 to register.

Other Transaction Authority (OTA), which has existed for decades but was expanded in the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, allows the military to grant relatively small contracts for the development of prototypes and then follow on with an additional contract for production if and when the pilot is successful.

During the pilot, the Army looks to conduct “site assessment surveys at three Army installations and the implementation of assessable services at Army Futures Command (AFC) Headquarters in Austin, Texas” in fiscal 2019. If the first pilots go accordingly, the Army hopes to also expand to another two bases in 2019, and five more in fiscal 2020. In total, over the first three years, the Army says it could launch up to 15 pilots at bases of varying sizes.

Army CIO Bruce Crawford broadly detailed the plan in a recent appearance. The Army, he said, will “move from an incremental approach at 288 different posts, camps and stations to more of a prioritized approach at about 50 of our most important and significant readiness-related, power-projection platforms.”

Crawford said it would “take beyond the year 2030 if we stayed on the current path to modernize the enterprise,” building out Army-owned systems and IT infrastructure, which comes at a massive cost and investment in time.

[The RFI] says. “Upon successful implementation, EITaaS enables the transfer of government resources to focus on core cyberspace operations, increase readiness and cyberspace effectiveness while enhancing security to ensure successful completion of Army missions.”

The Army’s EITaaS model of launching pilots sounds a lot like the Air Force’s, which also used OTAs to test the concept. It awarded OTA contracts to AT&T, Microsoft and Unisys in 2018 and 2019.”

Army to kick off IT-as-a-Service procurement with industry day