Basic Load

size0 (1)U.S. Army weapons engineers have begun fielding a new lightweight 81mm mortar that’s 14 percent lighter than current 81s.

The new M252A1 81mm mortar is 12 pounds lighter than its predecessor, the M252.

“The new lightweight system reduces the load for dismounted battalion mortar platoons, while retaining the same durability, rates of fire, and range of the legacy system,” Lt. Col. Will McDonough, Product Manager Guided Precision Munitions and Mortar Systems, known as GPM2S, said in a recent Army press release.

The Army began delivering the first 81mm M252A1 systems to units at Fort Bragg, N.C. earlier this month. The goal is to replace all current M525 systems in 2016, Army officials maintain.

The Army began fielding the lightweight M224A1 60mm mortar in 2010.

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U.S. Army testers are scheduled to evaluate an experimental, air-bursting 40mm grenade next summer.

If successful, the Small Arms Grenade Munitions, or SAGM, will transition to Project Manager-Maneuver Ammunition Systems by the end of fiscal year 2015 to become an official Army program of record.

The 40mm counter-defilade round will be twice as lethal as the current 40mm grenade against targets in defilade, according to Army officials from the service’s Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center.

Grenadiers are not as effective as they could be at delivering accurate fire against enemy behind cover, Army officials maintain.

But to become an Army program of record, “we must demonstrate a certain level of functional reliability over selected target sets,” SAGM Project Officer Steven Gilbert said in a recent Army press release.

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Limitless Gear has a new M4-style magazine carrier with a quick-release MOLLE attachment system that is worth checking out.

The OPFOR 30-round magazine carrier features the Rapidly Scalable Equipment Ensemble that allows you to “mount and dismount the OPFOR from 2×2 MOLLE/PALs surfaces in seconds,” Limitless Gear officials maintain.

The OPFOR also features a lidless Positive Magazine Retention system. Magazines are automatically locked in place just like in your weapons magazine well and can be quickly and easily withdrawn from the OPFOR by applying a simple twist and pull. This eliminates the need for flaps or bungee cords that prevent access to your next magazine, company officials say.

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The U.S. Army is working on an improved version of the Flameless Ration Heater that doesn’t need water to heat Meals, Ready-to-Eat.

“Unlike the current ration heater, the Air Activated heater does not require water, a valuable battlefield commodity. This new approach to heating and advanced technology aims to lower cost, weight, and logistics burden of chemical heating technologies,” according to Army officials at Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center.

The Air Activated Heater contains a peel away layer that, once removed, allows air to penetrate the holes of the outer foil layer. After passing through the felt diffusion layer, the air reacts with the activated carbon, electrolyte, and rate-controlling binder, producing a safe exothermic reaction, Natick officials say.

This new technology will heat the MRE entrée by 100 degrees Fahrenheit in less than ten minutes. Negligible hydrogen off-gassing eliminates operational and transport restrictions associated with the current heater and offers improved safety, according to Natick.

The DoD Combat Feeding Program plans to transition the technical data to Defense Logistics Agency – Troop Support for use with the MRE.

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size0U.S. Army scientists have created a new smartphone app help commanders plan for how much water their soldiers will need on a mission.

The Soldier Water Estimation Tool, or SWET, is designed to simplify water planning, task that can be a logistical nightmare for leaders. Too much water can strain already heavy combat loads, forcing some soldiers to pack too little in favor of a lighter pack. When soldiers don’t have enough water, dehydration could set in, decreasing performance and increasing the risk of serious heat illnesses.

“Water is a huge logistical problem for training and field missions,” Nisha Charkoudian, a research physiologist from the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, known as USARIEM, Thermal and Mountain Medicine Division, said in a recent Army press release.

“Obviously, planners do not want too much, but having too little can lead to serious problems. Dehydration exacerbates symptoms caused by heat and altitude exposure, and makes a lot of things worse, including the ability to perform physical tasks in hot and high-altitude environments.”

Charkoudian worked with researchers from USARIEM and a team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory to develop an app that will help unit leaders accurately predict water needs with the goal of minimizing the burden of water transport and sustaining hydration.

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Army Spc. Rafael Boza tests the prototype smart suit on a three-mile course  at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.

The Army tested a prototype of soft suit designed by Harvard University engineers to aid soldiers’ muscles on long marches and patrols allowing them to move quicker and for longer distances without getting injured, according to an Army release.

Engineers with Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have worked with the Army and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to design a smart suit that uses a “series of webbing straps containing a microprocessor and a network of strain sensors.”

“The suit mimics the action of leg muscles and tendons so a soldier’s muscles expend less energy,” Ignacio Galiana, a robotics engineer working on the project, said in the Army’s release. [click to continue…]

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U.S. Army scientists are trying to show how better-fitting body armor can improve a soldier’s performance.

Members of the Anthropology and Human Factors Teams at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center are conducting a range-of-motion and encumbered anthropometry study to better understand the link between fit and performance with the Improved Outer Tactical Vest Gen III.

“We have this belief that if the fit of the body armor is really good, then the performance is going to be maximized,” Dr. Hyeg joo Choi, the principal investigator for the study, said in an Oct. 9 Army press release. “So the question is how can we quantify a good fit so that soldiers’ performance is maximized?”

To help answer that question, Choi and her fellow researchers collected measurements from 23 soldiers at Natick, including 21 males and two females.

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