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SOCOM Seeks New Wall Breaching System

United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) elements are exploring the possibilities of procuring a new shoulder-fired, disposable wall breaching system. Acquisition of the new system capability surfaced in a recent “sources sought” announcement released on behalf of USSOCOM by the U.S. Army Contracting Command at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J.

The market survey included a number of characteristic and performance features for the potential acquisition, listed at both “required” and “desired” levels.

For example, the system would have a required weight of 29 pounds and a desired weight of 20 pounds. In terms of weight comparisons, the 84mm Carl Gustaf weapon system utilized by some USSOCOM elements weighs just over 21 pounds, with USSOCOM currently exploring 3-5 pounds of weight reductions on that weapon.

Other required (and desired) design features for the new wall breaching system include an overall length of 3.5 feet or less (3 feet or less desired), incorporation of a “Picatinny Rail” mounting system, and an effective range of at least 100 meters (200 meters desired).

Wall Breaching Capability

An United States Special Forces soldier watches as a wall is breached to fit their vehicles in a compound that was seized in Hyderbad, Helmand province, Afghanistan, Oct. 11, 2010. SOCOM is seeking a new wall breaching capability that would be able to create at minimum a 40 inch x 20 inch breach hole. DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Rasheen A. Douglas

The announcement also identifies several aspects of a performance envelope for the system, ranging from a required deflection/obliquity angle measured perpendicular to the centerline aim point of the target of 15 degrees required (30 degrees desired) to the ability to create a minimum of a 40 inch x 20 inch breach hole at the specified deflection angles with one shot (maximum two shots allowed) in triple brick walls, 32-inch adobe walls, and 8-10-inch concrete reinforced walls (does not include taking out rebar) at the effective range noted above.

Desired traits expand those terminal performance descriptions to the ability to create a larger 42-inch x 28-inch single shot breach in a range of similar wall designs.

While a fire from enclosure (FFE) capability for the new weapon is desired, it is not required. And, reflective of the special operations environment, the requirements include the need for the weapon system to be “sufficiently rugged to remain safe, operational and effective following exposure to the rigors normally associated with military operations, including air delivery and salt water submersion.”

While the market survey is for planning purposes only, the announcement seeks production status information from interested vendors, adding “A fully developed weapon system is required, and delivery is not to exceed 4-6 months from when the order is placed.”

Industry responses to the announcement must be submitted no later than May 1, 2013.

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