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Marine Corps Explores Future Route Reconnaissance and Clearance (R2C) Capabilities

The United States Marine Corps is exploring a range of future route reconnaissance and road clearance capabilities under a business case analysis being conducted by service representatives. The effort to explore the best materiel solutions for a future Route Reconnaissance and Clearance (R2C) Capability Set (CapSet) – in order to determine the best materiel solutions to meet future Marine Corps R2C requirements – was outlined in a recent announcement by the Marine Corps Product Manager Engineer Systems (PdM ES).

German Route Clearance Package (GRCP)

The German Route Clearance Package (GRCP), which contains a remote-controlled Wiesel (Weasel), a ground-penetrating radar, and a metal detector could be a model for a future U.S. Marine Corps Route Reconnaissance and Clearance (R2C) Capability Set. Bundeswehr photo by Michael Mandt

According to the announcement, the business case analysis will “consider technologies and material product solutions that satisfy R2C CapSet requirements and will represent those solutions quantitatively in terms of cost, schedule, and performance.”

As part of the process PdM ES requested industry input both to “identify vendors that are currently providing materiel solutions for use in R2C CapSet; and identify additional vendors and/or technologies which are available or are in the developmental stages that will enhance R2C capability and Marine Corps survivability in the full range of military operations (ROMO) and from irregular forces employing asymmetric capabilities.”

Outlining the anticipated future threat environment and resulting capability requirements, the request noted that “The Marine Corps anticipates that explosive hazards, especially mines and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), will continue to pose a serious threat to U.S. forces beyond the current conflict. The enduring requirement for a R2C CapSet was established in response to this threat. The R2C CapSet combines blast hardened vehicles, communications and support equipment and specialized detection, interrogation, marking, neutralization and clearing systems to support mounted maneuver and sustainment logistics. R2C is developed and fielded in increments. Each increment’s capabilities will be determined by operational need and the maturity and availability of technology at that time.”

Representative examples of specific R2C “future increment” capability requirements identified included:

  • An unmanned semi-autonomous vehicle with an explosive obstacle detect capability through visual, ground penetrating radar, chemical, electromagnetic or other means while traveling at a minimum of 7 mph;
  • A vehicle travel speed of 45 mph and travel distance of 50 miles before requiring recharge or refuel;
  • Ability to detect metallic and low/non-metallic surface and subsurface explosive obstacles (EO) from standoff distances outside the effects of the explosive hazard while on the move (OTM) in all conditions day or night, on improved/unimproved roads or trails and road sides;
  • Ability to detect metallic and low/non-metallic surface and subsurface EO from standoff distances outside the effects of the explosive hazard while dismounted in all conditions day or night, on improved/unimproved roads or trails and road sides;
  • Ability to perform electrical, chemical, or electromagnetic detection of the suspected threat for operator classification;
  • Ability to neutralize undetected surface and subsurface EO at distances outside the effects of an EO while OTM;
  • Organic real-time ISR to conduct standoff route recon, collection, and detection; and
  • Ability to mechanically mark hazards and cleared routes visible to the naked eye from 328 feet (100 meters) on a clear day and from 164 feet (50 meters) through night vision devices during times of darkness, poor weather and battlefield obscuration.

The announcement noted that industry responders “may be contacted to continue discussion of capabilities and potentially demonstrate their capabilities/solutions as part of continuing market research.”

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Scott Gourley is a former U.S. Army officer and the author of more than 1,500...