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12 novembre 2013 2 12 /11 /novembre /2013 18:20
U.S. Special Forces To Get C-27Js


November 10, 2013. David Pugliese - Defence Watch


My Defense News/Navy Times colleague Aaron Mehta has details on the Pentagon’s decision to assign seven C-27J Spartans to U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM). The decision was made a couple of weeks ago. Three of the aircraft will be transferred to SOCOM by the end of November. Four more are in production and are scheduled for delivery directly to SOCOM between December and April 2014, Aaron writes.


The fate of the remaining C-27J aircraft has not been decided.


His article notes:

“The Air Force is maintaining those C-27s under “Type 1000” storage, which requires the planes be kept in near-active condition. The goal is that when a decision on their destination is made, they can be quickly spun up and delivered.

Altogether, the Air Force has paid for 21 C-27s. With the seven SOCOM planes assigned, 13 aircraft in inventory are destined for the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG), known as the “Boneyard,” at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. One more aircraft will end up there after undergoing work at an L-3 facility in Waco, Texas.”

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15 octobre 2013 2 15 /10 /octobre /2013 12:20
M84 stun grenade

M84 stun grenade

October 15, 2013: Strategy Page


U.S. SOCOM (Special Operations Command) has had a scalable offensive hand grenades developed and has spent over $40 million buying large quantities. Scalable refers to grenades that can have different amounts of their explosives removed by the user to produce different results. With the minimal charge the grenade is basically a “flash-bang” that is meant to disorient (with a loud noise and bright flash) people not really kill or injure. By adding 1-3 additional “increments” of explosives the user makes the grenade effective over a wider area and potentially lethal. These scalable grenades depend on explosives to injure, not fragments. They are also a lot more expensive, but for SOCOM operators the additional flexibility is often the difference between success and failure in an operation.


American Offensive hand grenades have been around since 1918, when they were invented for troops fighting in close quarters (enemy trenches). It was found that these grenades were also useful inside buildings and caves. Thus the Mk3 grenade kept getting upgraded and was the basis of the scalable version. The current Mk3A2 is made of waterproofed fiberboard with minimal metal components. The Mk3A2 weighs 440 gr (15.4 ounces) has a five second fuze and contains 228 kg (8 ounces) of TNT.


Stun (or “flash bang”) grenades were invented for British SAS commandos in the 1960s. These weapons do not use explosives but rather have a fire and shatter proof body with perforations for momentary bright light and very loud noise to escape. The effect is most intense 1-2 meters (up to six feet) from the detonation. A current example is the U.S. M84 stun grenade. This weighs 236 gr (8.2 ounces) and uses a 4.5 gr (.16 ounce) magnesium/ammonium nitrate mixture and a 1-2.3 second fuze to generate up to 180 db of sound and 6-8 million Candela of light for up to 1.5 meters (five feet away).

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26 septembre 2013 4 26 /09 /septembre /2013 07:20
GD Inks 2nd SOCOM Ground Vehicle Contract in a Month

General Dynamics' Advanced Light Strike Vehicle, a variant of the Flyer vehicle, was awarded a test and evaluation contract by US Special Operations Command. (General Dynamics)


Sep. 25, 2013 - By PAUL MCLEARY  - Defense News


QUANTICO, VA. — General Dynamics has scored a perfect two for two this year when gunning for US Special Operations Command ground vehicle contracts. It won the $562 million Ground Mobility Vehicle (GMV) 1.1 bid in August — though the award is stalled by protests from AM General and Navistar — and has now secured a $5.8 million evaluation contract for a lighter, CV-22 Osprey transportable vehicle on Sept 12.


On Wednesday, GD spokeswoman Laurie VanBrocklin confirmed that the company’s Advanced Light Strike Vehicle — a variant of the “Flyer” vehicle that won SOCOM’s GMV contract — was awarded the 12-month test and evaluation contract that includes training and parts.


A government website outlines a contract “for a minimum basic quantity of 2 vehicles each with the ability to purchase 8 additional vehicles.”


The idea behind the program is to give operators a fast, protected, but lightly armored off-road vehicle that can roll out of the back of an Osprey and begin firing mounted weapons within 60 seconds.


In May, Defense News reported on comments made by Marine Lt. Col. Ken Burger, program manager for the Family of Special Operations Vehicles, who told an industry gathering that SOCOM’s plan is to request funding for the program beginning in the fiscal 2015 budget, and that Air Force Special Operations Command will begin doing combat evaluations of prototypes in 2014.

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23 septembre 2013 1 23 /09 /septembre /2013 17:20
SOCOM Hustles InstaGunship Into Service

September 23, 2013: Strategy page


U.S. SOCOM (Special Operations Command) has equipped and deployed 14 MC-130W "Dragon Spear" gunships in the last three years. The first MC-130W arrived in Afghanistan in late 2010 and a month later it had fired one of its weapons (a Hellfire missile) for the first time (killing five Taliban). Getting 14 new gunships into action so quickly was only possible because SOCOM adopted an idea developed by the U.S. Marine Corps; the "instant gunship." Called "Harvest Hawk," the marine instant gunship system works using weapons and sensors that can be quickly rolled into a C-130 transport and hooked up. This takes a few hours, and turns the C-130 into a gunship (similar in capabilities existing AC-130 gunships). The sensor package consists of day/night vidcams with magnification capability. The weapons currently consist of ten Griffin missiles and four Hellfires. A 30mm autocannon is optional.


The 15.6 kg (34.5 pound) Griffin had earlier entered service in Afghanistan aboard UAVs. The older Hellfire II weighs 48.2 kg (106 pounds), carries a 9 kg (20 pound) warhead and has a range of 8,000 meters. The Griffin has a 5.9 kg (13 pound) warhead which is larger, in proportion to its size, than the one carried by the heavier Hellfire. Griffin has pop-out wings, allowing it to glide, and thus has a longer range (15 kilometers) than Hellfire. UAVs can carry more of the smaller missiles, typically two of them in place of one Hellfire.


This use of missiles instead of cannon has allowed for a major change in how gunships are used. As a result in 2011 SOCOM, for the first time since the Vietnam War, allowed its MC-130 gunships to operate in daytime. For the last four decades it was believed too dangerous for these low, slow flying, heavily aircraft to operate when the sun was up. The key to this change is the use of missiles by gunships. The new, small, missiles enable the slow, large, MC-130s to operate above the range of ground fire and still hit their targets.


Dragon Spear is based on the earlier Harvest Hawk system which enabled marine KC-130J tankers to be transformed into a gunship with the addition of the portable weapons and sensors. The marines had long noted the success of the U.S. Air Force AC-130 gunships that SOCOM (Special Operations Command) uses. But they couldn't afford them, as an AC-130 costs more than three times as much as a marine KC-130J aerial refueling aircraft. But the marines developed a solution. This is something the marines often do.


The KC-130J is the latest, and largest, USMC version of the C-130 transport used for aerial refueling. The KC-130J can also carry cargo, and weapons (bombs and missiles) hung from the wings. Thus the Harvest Hawk version of the KC-130J adds a targeting pod, with the data going to a special cargo container containing control equipment (computers, commo and displays) enabling operators use of the day/night sensors of the targeting pod, to fire missiles hung from the wings. The SOCOM version is the MC-130W.


The original plan was to have a 30mm Bushmaster cannon fired out the door, so that there would be gunfire support as well. But this was made optional, as the 14 missiles seemed to provide sufficient firepower. It also means less for Harvest Hawk to carry. The Mk44 30mm Bushmaster cannon weighs 157 kg (344 pounds) and fires at 200 or 400 rounds per minute (up to 7 per second). The cannon has 160 rounds available, before needing a reload. That means the gunner has 25-50 seconds worth of ammo, depending on rate of fire used. Each 30mm round weighs about 714 g (25 ounces, depending on type.) Explosive anti-personnel rounds are fired when used in gunships. The fire control system, and night vision sensors, enable the 30mm gunners to accurately hit targets with high explosive shells. Existing SOCOM AC-130 gunships are armed with a 105mm howitzer, a 25mm and 40mm automatic cannon. But the two smaller caliber guns are being phased out of military service. The air force is considering equipping its gunships just with smart bombs and missiles.


The big thing with gunships is their sensors, not their weapons. Operating at night, the gunships can see what is going on below, in great detail. Using onboard weapons, gunships can immediately engage targets. But with the appearance of smart bombs (GPS and laser guided), aerial weapons are more available to hit any target that is found. So Harvest Hawk would be able to hit targets that were "time sensitive" (had to be hit before they got away), but could also call on smart bombs or laser guided missiles for targets that weren't going anywhere right away. Most of what Harvest Hawk does in Afghanistan is look for roadside bombs, or the guys who plant them. These the marines want to track back to their base, and then take out an entire roadside bomb operation.


Ultimately, the air force and SOCOM see the potential for the Harvest Hawk/Dragon Spear approach replacing custom built AC-130 gunships. There would still be a need for specially trained gunship crews. But they, and the several cargo containers of Harvest Hawk gear, could be held ready to go wherever they are most needed. SOCOM used their version of Harvest Hawk (the Precision Strike Package) in their MC-130 transports (which are already equipped for all-weather operations.) Meanwhile, SOCOM is expanding its existing AC-130 gunship fleet to 33, with the acquisition of 16 new AC-130J models. But the big change for gunships is the switch from automatic cannon (20mm, 30mm and 40mm) to missiles. The cannon require the gunships to fly low, within range of heavy machine-guns and portable anti-aircraft missiles. Missiles can be fired from much higher and new sensors still enable the gunship crew to get an up-close view of what is down there.

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25 août 2013 7 25 /08 /août /2013 11:20
Special Ops Command Announces $560M Award for Critical New Vehicle

Aug. 22, 2013 - By PAUL McLEARY - Defense News


In one of the dwindling number of domestic new build ground vehicle contracts available to the US defense industry, the US Special Operations Command today awarded General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems a contract worth at least $562 million its Ground Mobility Vehicle 1.1 (GMV) program.


The special ops command has said that it wants to buy 1,297 GMVs to replace the current 1,072 Humvee-based GMVs it has in its inventory. Defense News reported back in May that SOCOM had already planned to spend about $24 million on the program in fiscal 2014 for the first 101 vehicles, at a price tag of at $245,000 per vehicle.


Barring any protests, the loss will come as a bitter pill for current GMV-maker AM General and Navistar International, companies who are looking for more business at a time when the buys of Humvees and MRAPs have ended. Oshkosh Defense was eliminated from the competition in January, after which it filed a protest which was then withdrawn in April.


Requirements documents released last year said that the GMV would have to weigh less than 7,000 pounds, have the ability to carry up to seven passengers and be transportable in an M/CH-47 Chinook helicopter.


In today’s notice about the award, the government said that it plans on spending about $14 million in already allocated fiscal 2012 and 2013 budgets for research, test and evaluation on the GMV.


Final deliveries of all GMVs are expected to be complete by September 2020.


SOCOM has also said that it’s in the market for an even smaller vehicle that could fit in the back of a V-22 Osprey. SOCOM released a request for proposals on April 5 for the program, which calls for a lightly armored vehicle that can roll out of the back of an Osprey and begin firing mounted weapons within 60 seconds.


Funding for that program would kick off in the 2015 budget SOCOM officials announced this spring, and that industry has already started to submit its plans to meet the requirement. The Air Force special operation command will begin doing combat evaluations of prototypes in 2014.

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3 juin 2013 1 03 /06 /juin /2013 07:20
Special Forces fast-rope from the rear ramps of CV-22 Ospreys during a demonstration. photo by Senior Airman Sheila DeVera, U.S. Air Force

Special Forces fast-rope from the rear ramps of CV-22 Ospreys during a demonstration. photo by Senior Airman Sheila DeVera, U.S. Air Force

June 3rd, 2013 By Air Force News Agency - defencetalk.com


Senior commanders recently called on the defense industry to provide technologies that give special operations forces more situational awareness, better networking and communications and more precise location and targeting capabilities.


Officials from across U.S. Special Operations Command, including commanders of its service components and the theater special operations commands, laid out their wish lists earlier this month at the annual Special Operations Forces Industry Conference here.


All noted the unprecedented capabilities the defense industry has delivered to help special operations forces succeed during the past 12 years of conflict. But looking to the future — the drawdown in Afghanistan, budget constraints and a refocus on the Asia-Pacific region and other parts of the globe beyond the Middle East and Southwest Asia — they said they will need more.


So despite budget constraints and uncertainties, efforts must continue to ensure that special operations forces have the tools they will need to succeed in missions ranging from building partner capacity to irregular warfare and counterterrorism, the commanders emphasized.


At the top of their list are improved intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets and better processes for sifting through the mountains of data streams to paint a more complete operational picture.


SOCOM’s current acquisition efforts are focused on equipping both manned and unmanned fixed-wing assets with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities suitable for diverse global requirements, Navy Adm. Michael McRaven, the SOCOM commander, reported to Congress earlier this year.


“We will need to have an ability to continue to search large data bases to identify enemies and information that helps us understand and gives us clues into what (violent extremist) networks are doing out there,” Army Lt. Gen. Joseph L. Votel, the commander of Joint Special Operations Command, told the Tampa assembly.


And in support of Navy Adm. William H. McRaven’s vision of a global special operations forces network, Votel underscored the need for knowledge management and information storage and sharing technologies to support it.


“We want every advantage before we lock horns with an adversary, and that is knowing what they have available to them and then countering it with decisive action,” Navy Rear Adm. Sean A. Pybus, commander of Naval Special Warfare Command, told the assembly.


What’s needed, the commanders agreed, are more universal systems to replace those that work only on specific platforms.


“We have to have plug-and-play ISR packages that allow us to select the right tool for the right environment, and be able to work in a standardized fashion in the aircraft that we are operating across the enterprise,” Votel said.


Marine Col. Michael Sweeney, deputy commander of Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, echoed the need for a single, multitiered network to consolidate what five and sometimes six sets of equipment now do. “We are increasing the burden on the force from a load perspective,” he said.


“We are system agnostic,” said Army Maj. Gen. Michael S. Repass, the commander of Special Operations Command Europe. “We don’t care what it is, as long … as the communications are compatible with whatever the distribution network is.”


Army Lt. Gen. Charles T. Cleveland, the commander of U.S. Army Special Operations Command, said the systems that have proven themselves in Afghanistan will remain critical throughout the rest of that mission and into the future.


But looking ahead, he also recognized the fine line between becoming overly dependent on technology and ensuring enough redundancy “to make sure we are not crippled if we lose something as a capability.”


Lt. Gen. Eric Fiel, the commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, said he sees little decrease in future demand not only for ISR, but also for mobility and strike capability. As wartime requirements decrease, the command is evaluating its portfolio to ensure it is postured to provide what future missions will demand, he said.


The first of up to 10 CV-22 Osprey slated to be based in Mildenhall, England, are expected to arrive next month to extend the reach of U.S. special operations forces supporting both U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command, Fiel said.


The MC-130J Commando II also is slated for the European theater, with 12 to be fielded to provide “a very much-needed capability to both Special Operations Command Africa and Special Operations Command Europe,” he added.


Naval Special Warfare Command is undergoing a similar assessment of its inventory, as its SEALs and special boat teams transition back to their traditional maritime environment, Pybus said.


A new Maritime Mobility Roadmap, approved by McRaven, calls for a family of vessels – ranging from high-end, stealth, long-range penetrating craft to a multimission craft that can launch from a variety of ships for operations in littoral waters.


But Pybus also noted the need for other hardware suited to the maritime domain: refreshed rebreathers, propulsion devices, sleds and weapons that can work both underwater and across the beach.


“There is equipment that our partners have, quite frankly, that is better than ours, because we spent the past decade fighting ashore,” he said “It is time to move forward so that our troops have the best that there is out there so they can be successful.”


While laying out their immediate and future requirements, the commanders made clear they understand the economic realities facing the entire military.


“We are going to have to do things smartly and efficiently, because we just won’t have all the things that have been available to us in the past,” Pybus said. That, he acknowledged, will mean using legacy systems to the very end of their life cycles.


“But you can accessorize them and make improvements to them to make them better,” he told the industry representatives. “And that is what we are going to be looking for from a lot of you.”

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31 mai 2013 5 31 /05 /mai /2013 12:20
Warrior Web Project - photo US Army

Warrior Web Project - photo US Army

May 29, 2013 ASDNews Source : US Army


Army researchers are responding to a request from the U.S. Special Operations Command for technologies to help develop a revolutionary Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit.


The Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit, or TALOS, is an advanced infantry uniform that promises to provide superhuman strength with greater ballistic protection. Using wide-area networking and on-board computers, operators will have more situational awareness of the action around them and of their own bodies.


The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, known as REDCOM, is submitting TALOS proposals in response to the May 15 request.


"There is no one industry that can build it," said SOCOM Senior Enlisted Advisor Command Sgt. Maj. Chris Faris during a panel discussion at a conference at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., recently, reported Defense Media Network.


The request, currently posted on Federal Business Opportunities, is looking for technology demonstration submissions from research and development organizations, private industry, individuals, government labs and academia to support the command-directed requirement issued by Adm. William McRaven, USSOCOM commander.


"[The] requirement is a comprehensive family of systems in a combat armor suit where we bring together an exoskeleton with innovative armor, displays for power monitoring, health monitoring, and integrating a weapon into that -- a whole bunch of stuff that RDECOM is playing heavily in," said. Lt. Col. Karl Borjes, an RDECOM science advisor assigned to SOCOM.


TALOS will have a physiological subsystem that lies against the skin that is embedded with sensors to monitor core body temperature, skin temperature, heart rate, body position and hydration levels.


Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are currently developing armor made from magnetorheological fluids -- liquid body armor -- that transforms from liquid to solid in milliseconds when a magnetic field or electrical current is applied. Though still in development, this technology will likely be submitted to support TALOS.


"RDECOM cuts across every aspect making up this combat armor suit," Borjes said "It's advanced armor. It's communications, antennas. It's cognitive performance. It's sensors, miniature-type circuits. That's all going to fit in here, too."


SOCOM demonstrations will take placeJuly 8-10, at or near MacDill Air Force Base.


The request asks participants to submit a white paper summary of their technology by May 31, describing how TALOS can be constructed using current and emerging technologies. A limited number of participant white papers will be selected and those selected will demonstrate their technologies.


The initial demonstration goal is to identify technologies that could be integrated into an initial capability within a year. A second goal is to determine if fielding the TALOS within three years is feasible.


U.S. Army science advisors, such as Borjes, are embedded with major units around the world to speed technology solutions to Soldiers' needs. The Field Assistance in Science and Technology program's 30 science advisors, both uniformed officers and Army civilians, provide a link between Soldiers and the RDECOM's thousands of subject matter experts.




The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America's Soldiers.


RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army's premier provider of materiel readiness -- technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection, and sustainment -- to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC provides it.

Future force Soldiers - photo US Army

Future force Soldiers - photo US Army

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25 avril 2013 4 25 /04 /avril /2013 07:20
U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers of the 3rd Special Forces Group patrol through the Afghanistan countryside in a ground mobility vehicle (GMV-S). Note the M136 AT4 84mm anti-tank rocket strapped to the GMV above its right door - U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Horace Murray

U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers of the 3rd Special Forces Group patrol through the Afghanistan countryside in a ground mobility vehicle (GMV-S). Note the M136 AT4 84mm anti-tank rocket strapped to the GMV above its right door - U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Horace Murray


Apr. 24, 2013 - By PAUL McLEARY – Defense News


WASHINGTON — Next month, U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) is scheduled to award a contract to one company for at least 1,300 ground mobility vehicles (GMVs) to replace its current fleet of aging GMVs.


SOCOM commander Adm. William McRaven confirmed the planned award while warning about his command’s spending on research and development during a hearing of the House Armed Services’ intelligence, emerging threats and capabilities subcommittee on April 17.


The GMV program is the planned replacement for the heavier Humvee variant being used by SOCOM, and according to budget documents released in April, they would start being fielded next year.


SOCOM’s fiscal 2014 budget request submitted April 10 calls for $24.7 million to purchase 101 vehicles in the coming year at $245,000 per vehicle. The three companies competing for the work, which is expected to produce about 200 vehicles a year for seven years, are General Dynamics, current GMV-maker AM General and Navistar International.


Requirements documents released last year call for a vehicle that weighs less than 7,000 pounds, has the ability to carry up to seven passengers and can be transportable in an M/CH-47 Chinook helicopter.


On April 5, SOCOM also released a request for proposal for what it is calling an internally transportable vehicle (ITV), which will be designed to fit in the back of a V-22 Osprey. While the specifications are classified, a draft solicitation released in June revealed that any submission must include two “critical flight mission payloads,” one at 1,000 pounds and another at 2,000 pounds, with a field-installable weapon station mount capable of fitting the M2 .50-caliber machine gun, the M240, the M249 squad automatic weapon, the MK-19 and the MK-47 Grenade Launcher.


SOCOM also requires the ITV to fit two passengers in addition to a driver, feature a removable gunner’s seat, be able to carry three to six casualty litters and have a crush-resistant roll cage.


SOCOM wants designs capable of traveling 350 to 450 miles “at 45 mph on level paved roads using organic fuel tank(s), without refuel, and exclusive of onboard fuel storage cans,” while reaching top speeds of 65 to 75 mph.


Given the advanced electronic jamming and communication technologies that modern spec ops forces employ in austere environments, SOCOM requires that any submission be able to produce continuous electrical power — even with the engine off — to operate a manpack radio for four to 12 hours.


Even with these initiatives and several other big-ticket developmental items outlined in the 2014 budget, such as the $20 million requested to kick off a Precision Strike Package Large Caliber Gun program, which would build an upgraded version of the Precision Strike Package on AC-130J gunships, McRaven told lawmakers that his command’s research-and-development budget “is a little out of balance.” After 12 years of focus on readiness as a combat force, “our research ... has waned a little bit.”


McRaven said even though SOCOM takes up only 1.7 percent of the total Defense Department budget, “my expectation is that we will take some cuts” in coming years.

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21 février 2012 2 21 /02 /février /2012 12:45
Four killed in US spy plane crash: US military


Feb 20, 2012 by Marc Burleigh (AFP) - ASDNews


Four American special operations personnel were killed over the weekend in the crash of their aircraft in Djibouti as it returned from a mission, the US military said Monday.


The U-28, a modified single engine turbo prop plane used by special operations units, crashed Saturday near Camp Lemonnier, a base used by the US military in the tiny Horn of Africa state.


The Pentagon identified the victims as Captain Ryan Hall, 30, Captain Nicholas Whitlock, First Lieutenant Justin Wilkins, and senior airman Julian Scholten, 26.


The four were based in Hulbert Field, Florida where they were assigned to special operations and intelligence squadrons.


The US Africa Command said the U-28 was on a "routine flight" when it went down six miles (10 kilometers) from the Djibouti International Airport.


The cause of the crash was under investigation.

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