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SOCOM Undersea and Land Efforts Seek Industry Collaboration

United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) representatives have recently announced opportunities for enhanced industry collaboration to help develop and identify future capabilities for both U.S. and allied sea and land special operators.

The first announcement, released in early July, identified Naval Special Warfare Command sponsorship of an “unclassified International Diver Workshop to identify potential business sources with the resources, capabilities, and experience to exhibit existing and future dive related equipment that has application to foreign Special Operations Combat Diver missions.”

Interest was also expressed in diver propulsion systems “either worn by the diver or sled style that can be man carried and propel the diver up to speeds of 4 knots.”

The event was slated for July 16, 2013 at the Naval Amphibious Base in Coronado, Calif.

“Several countries are interested in specific equipment to enhance their underwater capabilities,” the announcement noted, identifying specific interest areas within the functional areas of underwater breathing apparatus, life jacket/buoyancy compensator, diver propulsion systems and underwater navigation.

SEAL Combat Swimmers

A pair of U.S. Navy SEAL combat swimmers wear rebreathers and use compasses fitted to swim boards to navigate through murky waters. The SEALs are wearing LAR V Draeger rebreathers, closed-circuit breathing systems suitable for clandestine operations in shallow waters. The Naval Special Warfare Command sponsored unclassified International Diver Workshop took place on July 16, 2013. U.S. Navy photo by Senior Chief Photographer’s Mate Andrew McKaskle

In the case of underwater breathing apparatus, for example, interest was identified in the availability of “100 percent oxygen closed circuit re-breather with the capacity to switch to mechanical mixed gas semi-closed circuit. UBA must be capable of being front or back mounted and have operational depths of 20 feet sea water (fsw) for closed circuit and 75 fsw semi-closed circuit.” In addition, the announcement identified interest in a “100 percent oxygen closed circuit re-breather light weight and short duration. UBA must be capable of being front or back mounted and have capacity for micro pore scrubber cartridge.”

In the field of underwater navigation, Naval Special Warfare Command noted international partner interest in diver handheld navigation systems “capable of displaying nautical chart with tethered or through-water GPS update.”

Life jacket interest focused on a system that can “facilitate diving in closed and semi closed circuit configuration and meet Navy Experimental Diving Unit floatation standards. Life jacket must be able to be folded away and stored in a low profile container while diving and not in use.”

Interest was also expressed in diver propulsion systems “either worn by the diver or sled style that can be man carried and propel the diver up to speeds of 4knts.”

In the field of underwater navigation, Naval Special Warfare Command noted international partner interest in diver handheld navigation systems “capable of displaying nautical chart with tethered or through water GPS update.”

SEAL Delivery Vehicle

A SEAL assigned to a SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team pilots a Swimmer Delivery Vehicle – a Mk VIII minisub – back to a MK V Special Operations Craft (MK V SOC) during training in the Arabian Gulf. The SOCOM announcement also included interest in personal diver propulsion systems to complement the crewed SDV. U.S. Navy photo

Two weeks after the Naval Special Warfare Command announcement, the USSOCOM Special Operations Research, Development, and Acquisition Center’s Science and Technology Directorate announced its planned hosting of government, industry and academia representatives for the 2013 USSOCOM S&T Collaborative Planning Session – Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS).

The event is planned for  Aug. 6-7, 2013, at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.

The primary objective of the event “is to provide a forum for industry and academia to collaborate with the TALOS Management Team and other government organizations to discuss innovative approaches to achieving the technology objectives and challenges of USSOCOM’s TALOS.”

TALOS is a USSOCOM S&T thrust to advance the state of the art in warfighter protection and augmentation in order to maximize the kinetic potential and minimize the risk to our direct assaulters,” it explained, adding that the primary objective of the event “is to provide a forum for industry and academia to collaborate with the TALOS Management Team and other government organizations to discuss innovative approaches to achieving the technology objectives and challenges of USSOCOM’s TALOS.”

The “notional agenda” includes first day updates on: TALOS purpose/status; TALOS vision; and specific sessions on the TALOS focus areas of mobility and agility, advanced armor, C4, combat ready displays/thermal management/light-noise discipline/medical, situational awareness and power generation/management. Notional second day sessions include breakout sessions for industry, academia, and government, as well as a “What’s next” wrap-up briefing.

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