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New Technologies Sought for Special Operations

The Joint and Special Operations Program (JSOP), which is managed at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC, Crane), has issued a “sources sought” announcement requesting technical white papers that address a range of capability requirements derived from a recent 2011 United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) Roadmap Summit between various government users, operators, and program representatives.

According to the announcement, the JSOP “conducts research and development (R&D) directed toward ordnance and electronics, processes, systems, subsystems and components in support of our nation’s war fighters. JSOP programs primary technical areas include individual and crew served weapons, ordnance, fire control systems, ground vehicle visual augmentation systems, displays & peripherals, and night vision/electro-optics for handheld, vehicle mounted and weapon mounted applications.”

“Submitted whitepapers are discouraged from being marketing in nature, product focused, or previously submitted ideas,” it notes. “The JSOP program management office is looking for true innovative, out of the box thinking, conceptual approaches, and ideas on how industry can help address the extensive list of capability requirements so that fielded solutions can be realized within two to five (2-5) years.”

In the overarching weapons area, for example, JSOP has identified capability requirements for sniper systems, assault systems, and crew served weapons.

Within that arena, sniper system interest includes:

  • Flatter trajectory rounds for 7.62 mm, 300 Win Mag, .338-caliber and .50-caliber sniper systems that will provide increased energy and accuracy at extreme ranges;
  • Lightweight ammunition; and
  • A clandestine breakdown sniper system.

Assault system requirements include:

  • An integrated barrel suppressor “with no reduction in barrel/suppressor life;”
  • Lightweight ammunition;
  • A personal defense weapon;
  • An extended range 40 mm capability for M320 and/or MK 13 grenade launchers;
  • Weapons signature reduction (IR/thermal) “that is adaptable to transitional environments;”
  • Reductions in barrel temperature (IR Signature), vibration (accuracy and recoil) and weight;
  • Increased barrel life (without weight increase); and
  • A sustainable sound suppressor.

As with the other two sub-arenas, crew-served weapons interest includes lightweight ammunition.

Desired munitions capabilities fall into subsets of electronic initiators, grenades, breaching, demolition, and pyrotechnics.

JSOP interest in electronic initiators, for example, includes:

  • A “simple, reliable, inexpensive time delay timer” (mechanical or electrical);
  • A short range command detonated breaching initiator; and
  • A “pursuit deterrent device” that meets both rules of engagement and treaty requirements.

Examples of desired grenade capabilities include:

  • Flash bang grenades with multiple (2 – 6) bang capabilities;
  • A concussion grenade, and
  • An air-burst fragmentation grenade.

Other identified requirements categories range from visual augmentation systems (head mounted, hand held, and weapon mounted) to a range of enhanced fire support capabilities, including an organic precision strike system.

Companies responding to the sources sought announcement are encouraged to submit an initial 3-page synopsis on their technology by Nov. 4, 2011. Those who submit “acceptable white papers” may then be given a follow-on opportunity to brief their submittals at the Joint and Special Operations Program (JSOP) R&D conference, which is scheduled to be held immediately prior to the SHOT [Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade] Show 2012 in Las Vegas, Nev.

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