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Army juggling hundreds of soldier-focused programs.

The Army's program executive officer for soldier systems--known as PEO Soldier-today manages 326 projects.

Each program has an ORD (operational requirements document), each of which involves "tens or hundreds of contracts if you add them all together," said Col. James Moran, PEG Soldier, headquartered at Fort Belvoir, Va.

"We inherited all the programs from the other PEOs in the Army," said Moran at a National Defense Industrial Association's Armaments Division conference. Among the most complex programs under Moran's oversight are the Land Warrior, Air Warrior and Mountain Warrior. The next-generation Objective Force Warrior will transition to PEO Soldier in 2006, under the name Land Warrior Advanced Capability.

PEO Soldier will have to synchronize multiple technologies that will make up the OFW "We have weapons and ammo. We have command and control, laser designators and illuminators, night vision devices for the weapon sights," said Moran. PEG Soldier will work with other Army program offices for the integration of robotic vehicles into OFW.

Programs such as the Future Combat System and the Stryker only have one ORD, said Moran. "They have one funding line, and we have 41 funding lines."

The Army is currently in the process of fielding its Air Warrior program, which equips aviators with advanced equipment. "PEO Soldier is responsible for everything that goes on that aviator, including night-vision devices and body armor, inflatable rafts, communications systems and wireless communications in and around the helicopter," said Moran. "We also put cockpit airbags in the helicopter. We also do the cooling systems for the aviators."

The Land Warrior program, after years of development problems and delays, recently was turned over to General Dynamics, which received a contract to integrate the technologies for Land Warrior Stryker Interoperable. "This is the latest name for this program, it has gone through five name changes in the last 10 years," said Moran. "Hopefully, we will field this thing."

"The individual soldier is really our most deployed weapon system," he told the conference. Moran's office accelerated the fielding of a number of systems that the Army needed for recent operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Among them is a lightweight laser designator range-finder, or LLDR. "Those laser designators and illuminators allow a guy on the ground to talk to a B-52 to drop a JDAM from 30,000 feet," said Moran.

PEO Soldier also sent a lightweight video reconnaissance system to Afghanistan.

The program manager for clothing and equipment is working on about 200 items--from boots to parachutes and handcuffs for the military police, to the individual body armor, which lately has received stellar reports from the soldiers. The Interceptor body armor, said Moran, is "a success story that saved a lot of Army lives."

PEG Soldier also provided new ammunition and weapons, said Moran. Thermobaric ammo, for example, went from an idea to actual shipping into combat zone in three to four months, said Moran. "We have 11,000 of a low-velocity 40 mm round in Afghanistan," he said. "We get great feedback on them."

Another successful development is a crew-served weapon often known as the XM 307 or XM 312, depending on the kit.

"We have one weapon that does two things: it fires the 25 mm family of ammo and the same weapon, with changing fire parts will fire a .50 cal," said Moran. "So, we are going to have a weapon that is going to replace the M2 and the Mk 19." The 25 mm version "shoots and handles like a machine gun," he added.

The XM 307 does not need any sandbags when it is fired. It can also fire out of the snow without requiring any sandbags.

PEO Soldier is also fielding a new sniper rifle--a semi-automatic, .50 cal weapon, said Moran. "The recoil on these things are 100 foot pounds, compared to a .50 cal with 1,000 foot pounds," Moran said. "It fires out of battery and that is how you get the recoil down."

A new rifle, called the objective individual combat weapons (or XM-29), also is in development, explained Moran. The XM-29 is technically a spiral development that is made out of the XM-25, which is the 25 mm air bursting portion; the XM-8, the kinetic energy portion, and the XM-320 the 40mm grenade launcher developed by the Special Operations Command. "Put all those together and you have the XM-29," Moran explained. The XM-29 will fire 20 mm, said Moran. It also will be able to fire 5.56 ammunition, according to Army documents.

The Army is going to have a prototype of the XM-25 by Christmas and another one by spring, he said. Moran said he hopes to have a family of ammo for the XM-25. "We made a decision that the XM 307 crew- served and the XM-25 individual weapons use the same caliber," said Moran. The project will cost $125 million.

The XM-307 also will receive new thermal weapon sight, which is called the "one mil mini pixel," which weighs one and a half pounds, said Moran. Both the XM-8 and the XM-25 will be outfitted with the weapon sight.

The XM-8 is based on the Future Combat Rifle ORD. "There is also an ORD in SOCOM, which we hope can be fielded with this weapon," said Moran. "It is a revolutionary design-we have a weapon that can fire 6.4, 7.62 and has interchangeable barrels. It has a magazine made out of hardened plastic that is translucent."

The XM-8 also has an accessory shotgun, which has been fielded to the 101st Airborne Division, the 10th Mountain Division and the 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers. "We have to see how we can improve them," said Moran. The shotgun has a C-magazine, but with design changes on it. Moran said that the Army is going to have 280 of them ready for testing before Christmas.
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Author:Tiron, Roxana
Publication:National Defense
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2003
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