To meet the needs of the individual Soldier, PEO Soldier treats the Soldier as a system. This approach reduces Soldier load, and ensures that everything issued to Soldiers works together as a cohesive whole.
Headquartered in Fort Belvoir, Va., PEO Soldier is supported by four project manager offices. PM Soldier Protection and Individual Equipment is responsible for Soldier gear such as uniforms, body armor and helmets. PM Soldier Sensors and Lasers develops and acquires night vision and precision aiming devices. PM Soldier Warrior produces integrated systems to bring the individual Soldier into the digital network. PM Soldier Weapons manages individual and crew-served weapons.
AN/PSQ-23: Small Tactical Optical Rifle Mounted Micro-Laser Rangefinder
The AN/PSQ-23 Small Tactical Optical Rifle Mounted Micro-Laser Rangefinder combines the functionality of a laser rangefinder, the AN/PEQ-2A Aiming Light, the Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System, a digital compass and a visible pointer into a single system. This lightweight device is designed to operate on individual and crew-served weapons, in addition to the Stryker Remote Weapons Station. The AN/PSQ-23 also has the ability to compute and display highly accurate target locations when combined with a Precision Lightweight GPS Receiver or a Defense Advanced GPS Receiver.
(AN/PSQ 20: Enhanced Night Vision Goggle
The AN/PSQ-20 Enhanced Night Vision Goggle is a helmet-mounted passive device that combines Image Intensification and long-wave infrared sensors into a single integrated system, allowing Soldiers to see in almost any limited visibility condition. Before the EN-VG's inception and initial fielding in April 2008, the two technologies could only be used independently. Soldiers are now able to enjoy the best of both worlds through this lightweight (2 pounds with four AA batteries) device. One of the main improvements on the ENVG that is currently being executed by PM SSL is to "ruggedize" the device; making it more durable through qualifying a tougher housing material.
PM Soldier Sensor and Lasers
Recognizing the increased threat of life-threatening burn injuries from improvised explosive devices, PEO Soldier has accelerated research, development and deployment of ire-resistant clothing, which allows Soldiers seconds to safely escape lames. The latest FR development at PEO Soldier is the Fire Resistant Environmental Ensemble, a multi-layered system that is adaptable to varying mission requirements and environmental conditions. FREE, which is being fielded to combat vehicle crews and aviation crews in fiscal year 2010, is designed not just to provide ire resistance but also to meet critical needs for lightweight, warm and waterproof clothing suitable in a range of climates. It includes male and female undergarments, a base layer, midweight under layer, light weather outer layer, intermediate weather outer layer and an extreme/wet weather parka. It also includes cold weather gloves, a rigger belt and wool socks. FREE follows on a variety of FR clothing already issued to deployed troops. Soldiers deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan currently are issued four FR Army Combat Uniforms. The Army Combat Shirt, worn under Interceptor Body Armor, has the added benefit of moisture-wicking fabric in the torso, to relieve heat stress in desert combat environments. FR clothing is developed in consultation with burn experts at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.
The Army's first major parachute upgrade in more than 50 years features dramatic improvements in design and comfort for Soldiers. The Advanced Tactical Parachute System T-11 is slated to replace the T-10, which was introduced in the 1950s. Although the T-10 is a proven parachute system, Soldiers nowadays are a little bit larger than they were 50 years ago, and they carry more equipment. The T-11 mass tactical, non-maneuverable parachute, developed in collaboration with the Army's Natick Soldier Research, Development & Engineering Center and industry, with considerable feedback from Soldiers, reflects PEO Soldier's commitment to ensure that Soldiers are survivable, lethal and effective in any operational environment. The canopy of the T-11 is 28 percent larger than the canopy of the T-10, resulting in a 49 percent slower rate of descent. That means Soldiers can stay safe and stay in the fight. Overall, the T-11 is more capable, stable and effective at meeting the needs of Soldiers on today's battlefields. The new shape of the T-11, which has been through more than 3,000 jumps in operational testing, is a factor in reducing injuries. The cruciform geometry lends itself to virtually eliminating injuries from inadvertent mid-air entanglements. The T-11 also employs a sleeve deployment system that creates more space between parachutes as they deploy and inflate, decreasing the likelihood of midair entanglement or collision. The new parachute has additional features that improve on the T-10: an upgraded harness that its the smallest and largest Soldiers and allows integration with today's modern equipment; and a proven reserve parachute system. In addition, the new canopy deployment system greatly reduces the shock of the parachute opening, further reducing the possibility of injury. Fielding of the T-11 is scheduled to continue through fiscal year 2016.
Improved Outer Tactical Vest
In its continuous push toward the next level of excellence in Soldier gear, PEO Soldier awarded a contract in summer 2009 to three vendors to produce the next-generation Improved Outer Tactical Vest, featuring more than a dozen enhancements. Based on feedback from Soldiers and leaders, PEO Soldier introduced 17 improvements, including: an adjustable side-plate carrier; a modified internal liner that reduces rubbing and chafing; a more durable and stable internal waistband; changes to the internal liner to reduce rubbing and chafing; more easily adjustable shoulder buckles; integration of the Tactical Assault Panel; a strengthened drag strap; and a simplified quick-release. Of particular interest to Soldiers of smaller stature is a smaller side plate, 6 inches by 6 inches. In its continuous efforts to reduce the load Soldiers carry, PEO Soldier removed any unnecessary feature from the IOTV to reduce weight. Concurrent with these improvements, PEO Soldier developed procedures for cleaning the vests using commercial methods.
PM Soldier Protection and Individual Equipment
Lighter Body Armor
The Army is introducing a plate carrier vest to provide Soldiers more lightweight gear. In certain operational environments such as the mountains of Afghanistan, mobility is key to Soldiers' effectiveness against the enemy. The plate carrier, developed in conjunction with the U.S. Army Infantry School, the Army Test and Evaluation Command, North Carolina State University, the Army Research Laboratory, and the Rapid Equipping Force, and with extensive feedback from Soldiers, will reduce the weight of Soldiers' body armor by 10 to 15 pounds, compared with the fully equipped Improved Outer Tactical Vest. The vest will carry standard hard armor plates for vital ballistic protection, but will cover less of the Soldier's body than the Interceptor Body Armor system. The Army chose this solution concept because the technology does not yet exist to make the hard and soft armor components more lightweight. The plate carrier will give the commanders of those units a more lightweight alternative for their Soldiers. The fielding schedule called for the first plate carriers to be delivered to the Army in December 2009 after testing, and be fielded to Soldiers soon thereafter. Deliveries are scheduled to be complete in March 2010.
PM Soldier Warrior
Land Warrior is a first-generation, battle-tested system that provides situational awareness, navigation and networked communications to the dismounted Soldier. Using a Soldier-worn configuration, Land Warrior allows equipped Soldiers to see the location of other equipped Soldiers on the battlefield shown on a digital map that can be edited on the fly. With Land Warrior, Soldiers can add icons and other mission symbols to a shared map that is populated to every other system user. Equipped Soldiers can also use voice and text messaging, as well as wirelessly exchange digital files between Soldiers and back to command.
Using Soldier feedback, Land Warrior has been designed for ease of use and minimal impact on the users. The system is integrated directly into the Soldier's gear, and uses a helmet-mounted display with a handheld Soldier control unit. This allows Soldiers to interact with the system without hampering their effectiveness on the battlefield.
Land Warrior was first deployed with the 4-9 Infantry to Iraq in 2007, where it proved to be a valuable tool. Soldiers in Iraq reported that they moved faster, safer and more effectively with the system. A lighter, improved version of the system is currently deployed to Afghanistan.
Air Warrior is a fully integrated, modular, aircrew ensemble that provides improved situational awareness tools, communication systems, essential survival gear, and mission equipment into a single Soldier-worn solution. To produce Air Warrior, PM Soldier Warrior used a system of systems approach, so that the entire ensemble works together as a whole.
Mounted Soldier System provides vehicle commanders with enhanced situational awareness, communication, mobility and safety. The system provides a helmet-mounted display for commanders for remote viewing of platform-based displays and optical sensors. This, coupled with wireless communication, allows commanders to move freely within the vehicle, giving them greater mission flexibility. Additionally, the Microclimate Cooling System has been integrated into the MSS after proving its worth for Army aircrews. As in aircraft, the MCS effectively lowers the user's core body temperature. The MCS includes a Microclimate Cooling Garment (a vest worn as an undergarment), and a small Microclimate Cooling Unit, an autonomous vapor compressor system that chills water and pumps it through small tubes imbedded in the vest. The vest is worn beneath crew member clothing. The MCS is shown to increase mission endurance, and allows users to focus on their missions.
Lighter Machine Guns
PM Soldier Weapons has fielded 500, Mk48 7.62mm assault machine guns to units in Afghanistan. At just more than 18 pounds, the weapon is 33 percent lighter than the M240B. Units will keep the Mk48 in addition to their current inventory, providing commanders more firepower, mission flexibility and maneuverability. In addition, PM SW has begun an operational assessment of the new titanium M240L, a lightweight variant of the rugged M240B that meets the reliability and performance specifications of the heavier gun. At 20.5 pounds, the short-barrel M240L is 7 pounds lighter than the M240B. Fielding to dismounted units such as airborne and air assault is anticipated in summer 2010.
Responding to Soldier feedback, systems engineers at PM Soldier Weapons figured out a way to improve the performance of ammunition magazines without adding weight. By incorporating a heavier, more corrosion-resistant spring, along with a new follower that does not tilt inside the casing, engineers were able to develop a magazine that presents a round to the weapon with even greater stability. The plan is to field seven new magazines for each M16 or M4 carbine in the inventory. Look for the tan-colored follower to be sure you have the improved magazine for your weapon.
PM Soldier Weapons
M320 Grenade Launcher
The M320 Grenade Launcher is a completely new system featuring unique advancements. The M320 improves on the current system with an integral day/night sighting system, a handheld laser rangefinder and a modular architecture that allows for standalone operation or for mounting on M16 and M4 systems. With a double-action trigger for increased safety and reliability, the M320 also features a side-loading unrestricted breech, allowing for longer 40m m munitions that provide Soldiers increased mission flexibility. The Army plans to purchase more than 71,000 M320 systems over the next several years, eventually replacing the M203.