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TO BOOST FIREPOWER IN EUROPE, SOLDIERS TEST STRYKER CANNON, JAVELIN SYSTEM
Thursday, August 17, 2017
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Stryker fires 30 mm rounds

Source: US Army


Stryker fires 30 mm rounds

Source: US Army


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ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - As one of the first Soldiers to shoot a powerful 30 mm cannon from a new Stryker combat vehicle, Staff Sgt. Randall Engler was excited about what the weapon could do for his infantry squad.

"It's empowering," said Engler, of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, which has asked the Army to give its Stryker fleet more lethality to deter Russia and other near-peer threats. "You're laying that hate [on a target] with a bigger round. It's doing a lot more damage and you're getting better effects."

Engler and 14 others from the regiment recently traveled from Germany to Aberdeen Proving Ground as part of a six-week test and training event on the new Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle, which is nicknamed "Dragoon" after the unit.

The Soldiers also tested the new CROWS-J system, a common remote-operated weapons station that allows troops to fire Javelin anti-tank guided missiles from the safety inside existing Stryker models.

"We try to get users on the platform early on, that's why there are crews from [2nd Cavalry] here now," said Col. Glenn Dean, the Army's Stryker program manager, during a media event Tuesday at Aberdeen.

Six Stryker vehicles from each 30 mm cannon and Javelin variant are slated to head to Germany this January, where more 2nd Cavalry Soldiers will be able to share their input. The Army hopes to field the combat vehicles in a forward location next summer when the regiment's 1st Squadron is expected to go to Poland, Dean added.

NEAR-PEER THREATS

The regiment requested more firepower for its 81 Stryker ICVs due to the recent military operations of Russia, which has shown hostility in parts of Eastern Europe.

"This capability coming to [2nd Cavalry] is directly attributable to Russian aggression and we are actively working with our foreign partners in how to help shape our formation," said Lt. Col. Troy Meissel, the regiment's deputy commanding officer.

The limited number of American forces stationed in Europe also led to the request. Back in the Cold War, there were roughly 300,000 U.S. Soldiers in Europe. Now, there are only about 30,000, he said.

"How do we, as an Army, make 30,000 Soldiers feel like 300,000?" he asked. "This new ICV-D [Infantry Carrier Vehicle-Dragoon] is one of the ways that can help us do that."

While the weapon upgrades are not meant to change the Stryker into a fighting vehicle, the new vehicles can help infantrymen be more effective in battle. "It allows us to get to the right place at the right time to close in and destroy the enemy," Meissel said.

QUICK ACQUISITION

The acquisition of the 30 mm cannon-equipped Stryker, which began in the fall of 2015, was a relatively quick process. It took about 15 months from the receipt of funds to the delivery of ICV-D prototypes, said Maj. Gen. David Bassett, program executive officer for the Army's ground combat systems.

"You're seeing an acquisition timeline that was not driven by bureaucracy, but was driven by the actual activities and underlying tasks that we needed both our contractors and the Army team to do together," Bassett said.

The Dragoon vehicles also incorporated equipment from other Stryker variants, such as a mature turret that didn't require much software development and a mature chassis with a suspension that was already proven by the Stryker double-v hull program.

"One of the ways you make acquisition go faster is by picking things that don't require as much as those activities," he said. "It's not too long before you're hit with a very low probability of success if you're bringing in too many new things that are unproven."

The process, he added, demonstrated his office's commitment to get systems to Soldiers in a timely manner. "I'm not interested in developing [systems], I'm interested in delivering [them]," he said.

While additional resources have already been asked to equip a second brigade with the new vehicles, the general expects there could be modifications to the vehicle as more 2nd Cavalry Soldiers give their feedback.

"It would be more efficient in terms of resources to wait but our adversaries aren't waiting," he said, "so we're looking to lean forward to provide capabilities sooner rather than later."

Cost savings in hardware, though, as well as novel approaches to business operations and leveraging partner investments in the Dragoon vehicle program, have freed up money for the regiment to add another weapon system to its arsenal -- the remote Javelin system.

Stryker vehicles with the CROWS-J system will roll out to the regiment at the same time as the ICV-D vehicles, according to Dean, the program manager. "I didn't have to go back to the Army or Congress and ask for another dollar to execute this," he said.

TIGHT SHOT GROUP

During the recent 30 mm cannon testing at Aberdeen, Soldiers saw a vast improvement in accuracy compared to the .50-caliber machine gun, which is mounted on many Stryker vehicles.

"With this, we're seeing a shot group about the size of a basketball," Sgt. 1st Class Nicholas Young, senior NCO of the Army's Stryker program, said of the remote-operated cannon hitting a target at 1,800 meters away. "If I aim at something, I know I'm going to hit it and I'm going to do damage to it."

Soldiers do lose some situational awareness after designers had to accommodate the large cannon on the unmanned turret. Vision blocks in the front of the Stryker have been added and there's the possibility of putting cameras on future vehicles, depending how 2nd Cavalry formations react to the vehicles in testing.

"It will take some getting used to," Young said of the loss of situational awareness, "but eventually we'll be able to find some solutions to integrate into the vehicle to assist with that."

If given the choice between a hatch to look out of and a 30 mm cannon capable of shooting 200 rounds per minute, many Soldiers may prefer the extra lethality.

"I know it makes me feel more comfortable out there because it's a bigger round," Engler said, adding it could force enemies to think twice before attacking. "It'll make them second guess [because] now it's going to be a substantially different fight."

Source:  US Army
Associated URL: army.mil
Source Date: August 17, 2017
Author: Sean Kimmons, Army News Service 
Posted: 08/17/2017

 
 
TYPHOON-VDV WITH RWS TO ENTER SERVICE
Thursday, August 17, 2017
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Source: Uralvagonzavod


Source: Uralvagonzavod


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MOSCOW - Russia aims to put the Typhoon-VDV armored vehicle into service later this year.

A report released by UralVagonZavod indicates that the Typhoon-VDV, which features a remote-weapon station (RWS), will enter service with the military before the end of 2017.

Referencing the RWS, the report said, "Now it is undergoing state tests and is to become operational within the Typhoon armored vehicle at the end of 2017."

As Tass News Agency reported, the RWS is designed by Burevestnik Central Research Institute. The turret features a 30mm 2A42 automatic cannon as well as a 7.62mm machine gun.

Among its displays at Army-2017, a military exhibition running later this month, UralVagonZavod will show off the Typhoon-VDV.

Source:  Tass News Agency
Associated URL: http://tass.com/defense/960733
Source Date: August 17, 2017
Posted: 08/17/2017

 
 
AUGMENTED REALITY SOON POSSIBLE FOR MK-19 TRAINING
Thursday, August 17, 2017
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Source: C.Todd Lopez


Source: C.Todd Lopez


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WASHINGTON - Setting up a range day for training on the MK-19 grenade launcher is no easy task.

Researchers at the Army Research Laboratory-Orlando have an idea about how to change that, however, through the use of augmented reality.

To train on the MK-19 with real grenades "range cadre have to be available," said Dean Reed, a software developer and team lead at ARL. "And it requires a very long training range. You need that long distance."

Not so at ARL Orlando. There, they demonstrated that one might need only 25 meters to get Soldiers the practice they need on the MK-19.

"We use augmented reality. We're just firing out into the parking lot," he said. "It takes us under 30 minutes to set up the system."

Instead of going to a range, getting range time and range cadre, as well as expensive rounds, the researchers at ARL Orlando have the MK-19 -- augmented with computer hardware and a head-mounted display or HMD -- pointed out into the employee parking lot out of a garage door at the rear of their facility.

The HMD is equipped with video cameras that stand in for a Soldier's eyes. The goggles put LCD modules in front of the Soldier's eyes, so they see what is coming in through the cameras. And with the augmented reality turned on, the computer system inserts synthetic elements, like enemy soldiers, into the vision.

Using a tablet computer, which the system runs on, operators can create a custom scenario for the Soldier to train on.

Putting on the headset that's attached to the MK-19, Soldiers can look out into the parking lot behind the ARL facility and see the employee cars parked there. They see exactly what they'd see without the head-mounted display. When they turn their head, the image turns with them.

But then, a pickup truck rolls onto the scene. The truck is synthetic -- generated by the tablet computer. The synthetic truck image is merged with what's coming in from the cameras mounted on the HMD, before it's put in front of the Soldier's eyes. The truck appears to have actually driven into the lot. If the Soldier takes the HMD off, the truck is gone.

"These things will actually drive around appropriately on the trails that you give them," Reed said of the synthetic elements the software can add as part of a training scenario.

The scenario also includes a truck driver and another individual standing outside the truck and milling about.

Wearing the HMD, A Soldier can look down at the MK-19 and see the weapon and the triggers. Looking up into the parking lot, he can also see an indicator projected into his vision, showing him where the grenade will likely land. The indicator moves when he moves the MK-19.

Firing the weapon, the Soldier can hear the computer-generated sounds of a round being fired. And if he's on target, he can also see the enemy combatant fall, and the truck collapse to the ground and go up in flames and smoke.

ARL didn't invent the MK-19, or the concept of augmented reality. But they did, at ARL Orlando, merge existing hardware together with software algorithms they wrote to create the MK-19 trainer.

Getting the computer to accurately merge the direction of the weapon, and the trajectory of the grenade into a simulation, and to create the correct visuals to project into a Soldier's eyes to make it all seem real -- that's the big challenge for the researchers at ARL Orlando.

"It's really the computer vision algorithms that merge the real world with the virtual world," Reed said. "It's kind of a mixed-reality system. That's the hard bit, getting that orientation and realistic projection of those models, in the real world."

Taken together, Reed says, he thinks the concepts proven by the MK-19 trainer at ARL Orlando are the future of training for Soldiers.

"The accessibility this gives you is dramatic," he said. "You don't have to go sign out the expensive equipment and have a whole organized day. Usually there are range officers involved and safety officers. Here, you can literally just go to the motor pool, open the high bay door and get tracking."

In a real training environment, getting repetitions means getting more expensive rounds and reloading, and taking the range cold and then hot again in between. With the trainer, a reset can be done much more quickly.

"To reload this, it's basically click on the tablet," Reed said. "It clears the scenario, reloads it and you're ready to go again. Normally you could rerun the same scenario within a minute."

That short reset time means Soldiers can get as many repetitions on the weapon as needed before going out to the real range and firing the weapon for real. That means Soldiers get the confidence and skill they need for less money.

The MK-19 trainer is not quite ready for the field just yet. For now, Reed said, the HMD on the system needs to be improved. Indoors it's good, he said. But outdoors, where it's extremely bright and hot outside, it might not work.

"The HMD are not really bright enough to handle all the timing conditions that we are going to see," he said.

But still, the MK-19 trainer demonstrates what's possible with augmented reality training for the Army -- and that's the goal of ARL Orlando: to conceptualize what can be done and to prove it's possible to achieve.

Source:  US Army
Associated URL: army.mil
Source Date: August 17, 2017
Posted: 08/17/2017

 

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