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World’s Largest Distributed Special Ops Magazine


SOCOM Program Management Updates

SOCOM Leader

Adm. Bill H. McRaven Commander SOCOM

Diver Gear O 3-D Training O Protective Gear Mulltinational Partnerships

May 2014

Volume 12, Issue 4

Problem. Solved.

He’s willing to give his life for our country. It’s our goal to make sure he doesn’t have to. If you’re looking to develop a modular, adaptable soldier protection system, you need a company with the history and technologies to make it happen. With 112 years of innovations, 46 technology platforms, and proven experience in the field, 3M is uniquely qualified to meet your objectives. Need enhanced protection? Let’s lock and load. Lighter? Ready when you are. User friendly? Mission accomplished. Whatever your problem, consider it solved. Learn more about how we’re ready to serve the men and women who serve our country at





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3M Defense

Special Operations Technology Features

May 2014 Volume 12, Issue 4

Cover / Q&A

48 Multinational Partnerships

15 The authoritative annual overview in which SOCOM’s acquisition executive and SOCOM Special Operations Research, Development and Acquisition Center senior staff, including program executive officers, provide the details you need on SOCOM acquisition programs.

Over the past decade, multinational partnerships and training have grown into key components of the United States’ National Security Strategy. In Iraq, military transition teams rebuilt and trained army and police forces gutted by the 2003 invasion. In Afghanistan, advise and assist brigades helped construct a national army and police force to replace brutal Taliban warlords. By Captain Sam Rosenberg

41 Admiral Bill H. McRaven


Resources and Knowledge Set Contractors Apart

Not too long ago a typical special operations mission meant two or three heavily camouflaged operatives lying in a concealed position for weeks at a time observing a target and surviving only on MREs. Present day special operations missions have evolved into larger, more complex scenarios. By Lamont Woody




We offer a sampling of wheeled vehicles available for use by special operators, featuring the latest in mobility technology from industry leaders. By Scott Nance

While some Marines and SEALs have spent the past decade or so getting dirty in desert or mountainous regions, DoD’s re-balance to the Pacific is forcing them to switch gears. By Jeff Campbell

While weaponry and body armor get most of the attention when it comes to ground combat troops’ gear, the uniforms they wear and the apparel that goes under them is just as important to doing their job. By John M. Doyle

3-D Training and Simulation


Ready, Set, Dive!

Skin in the Game

Industry Interview

2 Editor’s Perspective 3 Whispers/People 14 BLack WAtch 51 Resource Center

Mario Pantuso

Senior Program Manager Aeroscraft Corporation


Commander Special Operations Command

“We’re going to continue to be entrusted with the tremendous responsibility of safeguarding our homeland with forward, engaged, culturally attuned, agile SOF who will play a key role in a layered defense.” —Admiral Bill H. McRaven


Special Operations Technology Volume 12, Issue 4 • May 2014

World’s Largest Distributed Special Ops Magazine Editorial Editor

Chris McCoy Managing Editor

Harrison Donnelly Online Editorial Manager

Laura McNulty Copy Editor

Sean Carmichael Correspondents

Peter Buxbaum • Henry Canaday • John Doyle Scott Nance • Hank Hogan • William Murray

Art & Design Art Director

Jennifer Owers Ads and Materials Manager

Jittima Saiwongnuan Senior Graphic Designer

Scott Morris Graphic Designers

Andrea Herrera Amanda Paquette

Advertising Account Executive

Philippe Maman

KMI Media Group Publisher and Chief Financial Officer

Constance Kerrigan Chief Executive Officer

Jack Kerrigan Editor-In-Chief

Jeff McKaughan Controller

Gigi Castro

My name is Christopher P. McCoy and I recently took the lead of Special Operations Technology. Formerly, I was editor of SOTECH’s sister publication Tactical ISR Technology, and still serve as editor of Military Medical & Veterans Affairs Forum. I am going to take advantage of this introductory editor’s perspective to discuss a major point of Admiral McRaven’s GEOINT conference keynote address in Tampa, Fla. Although the majority of McRaven’s address centered on geospatial intelligence and its centrality to U.S. Special Operations Command, his answer to a question at the end of the address caught Chris McCoy Editor the most attention from the mainstream press. The question pertained to the stress of 13 years of war on special operations forces and their families and the legacy of suicide it has wrought on their ranks. McRaven responded with the following statement: “The last two years have been the highest rate of suicides we have had in the special operations community, and this year I am afraid we are on the path to break that. And although suicides alone are not an indication of the health of the force, they are a component I have to look at. There is a lot of angst. There is a lot of pressure out there. My soldiers have been fighting for 12-13 years in hard combat. Hard combat. And anybody who has spent any time in this war has been changed by it. It’s that simple.” The admiral continued, “I don’t think we know what effects are going to happen. I don’t think that will begin to manifest itself for another year or so, maybe two, three years.” McRaven explained that confronting this tragedy was his number one priority. Focusing on the resiliency of special operations forces and their families has been a cornerstone of his tenure as commander of SOCOM. As I am also the editor of M2VA I am familiar with the topic of suicide within the SOF community and will actively work to support SOF and their families as editor of SOTECH. Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments for Special Operations Technology.

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Col. Tim Baxter


Resource Aligner Vice Adm. William A. “Andy” Brown

May 2014

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Missile Warning System Improved BAE Systems’ common missile warning system completed a critical design review for its integrated aircraft survivability equipment (IASE) software update. The successful review marks a key milestone in the advancement of integrated infrared threat detection for rotary wing, transport and tactical aircraft. “Our common missile warning system has nearly a decade of proven success, flying more than 2 million in-theater combat hours and saving countless aircraft and lives,” said Bill Staib, director of threat management solutions at BAE Systems. “The newest version builds on the success of the existing technology and delivers enhanced integration and survivability capabilities to our armed forces.” The review highlighted the system’s ease of integration with other survivability technology, including the ability to accept data from both radar and laser warning receivers. By providing the Army with its first IASE capability, BAE Systems will reduce pilot workload and improve survivability by consolidating critical mission data into a single pilot vehicle interface. The system’s open architecture also enables threat data to be integrated into multiple platforms without costly upgrades or additional equipment.

Precision Strike Off Reaper Demonstrated MBDA has successfully demonstrated its dual mode Brimstone missile on an MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft (RPA), scoring nine direct hits against a range of targets including very high speed and maneuvering vehicles. Brimstone can now provide Reaper crews with a weapon that reduces collateral damage risk and demonstrates first pass, single shot lethality against high speed maneuvering targets on land and at sea and in complex environments. Conducted at U.S. Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, the trials were undertaken on behalf of the U.K. Ministry of Defence by the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) Air Warfare Centre Unmanned Air Systems Test and Evaluation Squadron, Defence Equipment & Support Weapons Operating Centre, United States Air Force’s Big Safari Organization, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Incorporated and MBDA. All

of the RAF’s primary and secondary trials objectives were met: demonstrating the integration functionality implemented, safe carriage, safe release, system targeting and end game performance while gathering data to support optimization and clearance activities. Brimstone scored nine direct hits in a range of challenging scenarios including static, accelerating, weaving, fast and very fast remotely controlled targets. Two of the more challenging scenarios were against trucks travelling at 70 mph in a crossing target scenario. At times, the targets were manually tracked by the Reaper crews, showing how the integrated semi-active laser and active MMW radar seeker works in tandem to ensure direct hits, even while tracking and designating targets manually over SATCOM. Every operational and telemetry missile performed as designed.

Wings over Honduras U.S. and Honduran servicemembers exchanged jump wings after performing joint airborne operations training consisting of jumping from a C-130 Hercules aircraft at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras. U.S. special forces from the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) performed a 1,500-foot static line jump alongside the Honduran 2nd Combat Airborne Infantry Battalion. The joint-training allowed members from both nations to retain currency, while also strengthening the relationship between the U.S. and Honduran forces. “It is a rewarding experience jumping with the Hondurans,” said a U.S. special forces member who participated in the training. “The techniques that they use are very similar to ours, so it’s almost like looking in a mirror when I watch them.” In all, 32 Americans and 52 Hondurans made the jump to parachute safely to the Soto Cano airfield in what was deemed to be a highly successful training exercise. “It is a great honor to receive the Honduran jump wings from them but even greater to award them with a pair of ours,” he said. By Captain Steven Stubbs, Joint Task Force Bravo


Vice Adm. Sean A. Pybus

Navy Vice Admiral Sean A. Pybus has been nominated for reappointment

4 | SOTECH 12.4

Compiled by KMI Media Group staff

to the rank of vice admiral and for assignment as deputy commander, U.S. Special Operations Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. Pybus is currently serving as commander, North Atlantic Treaty Organization Special Operations Headquarters, Brussels, Belgium.

The Secretary of Defense has nominated Navy Reserve Captain Daniel B. Hendrickson for appointment to the rank of rear admiral (lower half). Hendrickson is currently serving as commanding officer, Navy Reserve U.S. Special Operations Command, Detachment 108, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.

Brigadier General Michael J. Warmack, deputy chief, operations, Office of the Defense RepresentativePakistan, Pakistan, has been assigned as deputy commanding general, U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center, Fort Bragg, N.C.

Navy Rear Admiral (lower half) Brett C. Heimbigner has been nominated for appointment to the rank of rear admiral. Heimbigner is currently serving as deputy director, National Clandestine Service for Community HUMINT, Central Intelligence Agency, Washington, D.C.


Introducing the APEX UAS – Best-in-Class Technology, Easy Operation and Low Manpower Welcome to the next generation in UAS. While other systems call for an entire platoon of operators, L-3’s Airborne Pursuit and Exploitation (APEX) UAS only needs three – the smallest operating team in its class. Designed with special missions in mind, this complete system is fully expeditionary and includes a long-range, small-footprint ground control station with 100+ km range. Add in exclusive features like 7-hour flight endurance, inaudible electric propulsion and an accurate parachute recovery system, and you’ve got a UAS that flies far above the rest. Visit us at SOFIC 2014 in Booth 1504 or online at Unmanned Systems

Resources and Knowledge Set Contractors Apart

The SOF community is dependent on resourceful contractors to support complex missions.

By Lamont Woody

Not too long ago, a typical special operations mission meant two or three heavily camouflaged operatives lying in a concealed position for weeks at a time, observing a target and surviving only on MREs. Present-day special operations missions have evolved into larger, more complex scenarios involving sophisticated equipment, logistics, and often contractor support to get the basic life support systems and equipment in place. Although the size of modern contingencies may dwarf previous classified excursions, the basic tenets of a SOF mission have not changed, with success still being rooted in speed and agility in execution. In order for SOF to focus on increasingly more complex missions, they have turned to contractors who can respond just as quickly, and who may already be in the area, to provide base support, infrastructure and supply chain management.

importance to local or regional security, and in some cases are relevant to supporting national security objectives. • Even though SOF procures small quantities of specialized technologies and services, when contractors partner with SOF by sharing innovations and unique technologies, the application extends to conventional forces and improves our national safety envelope. • Contractors who hire local vendors overseas often increase SOF success in different ways. Contractors providing employment opportunities to indigenous personnel promote goodwill with the locals, improve the local economic base and enhance the security environment.

The More You Know

In any business, hiring the right people plays a key role in the overall success of the operation. With SOF support often occurring in undeveloped areas, ensuring that your foreign employment process is administered compliantly and that all locally-hired individuals are treated with the utmost dignity and respect can have a major impact on the current mission, as well as future endeavors in the region. Establishing clear expectations and providing proper training is essential to ensuring employees understand the requirements and will represent the company in an ethical manner. There is no “onesize-fits-all” approach to preparing for this type of work, but there are some commonalities, such as vaccinations and general training, that employees can acquire as a baseline. Project-specific details can then be quickly shared as resources are called to action. Having a cadre of trained employees available for rapid deployment can be the difference between mission success and failure.

The military depends on contractors who can mobilize quickly to solve complex problems under challenging conditions. An in-depth knowledge of each country’s geography, status of forces agreements with the United States, and laws for taxes, tariffs and hiring of local nationals are crucial elements of contractor support to SOF. Understanding the laws and customs of an area enables companies to more easily identify trustworthy sources of information. To be effective, it is imperative that contractors know who to talk to and what to say. Time wasted talking to the wrong people or confusion about regulations can leave our military without the support it needs. SOF relies on contractors with global supply chain management experience who are adept at getting materials where they need to be. Anyone with enough capital can buy equipment. But the contractors who can negotiate intricate border crossings to get supplies in position in advance of the troops are the ones who differentiate themselves from the pack and become trusted partners. SOF acquisition teams pursue best value and technically exceptional services and commodities for their theater special operations commands and SOF service component commanders. Successful contractors have earned reputations for providing seamless support in austere environments, maintaining compliance with federal regulations and offering competitive pricing. This business does not afford the luxury of a do-over, so SOF turns to contractors with the experience and resources to adapt to rapidly changing conditions with proven competence.

Going Beyond the Mission In addition to logistics and base operations support, SOF contractors also have the ability to contribute in other ways. • Developing innovative, low-cost and small-footprint approaches to meet emerging requirements. Most missions are of great 6 | SOTECH 12.4

Supporting the Best with the Best

Continuing Mission In a world where political unrest is an ongoing concern, SOF will continue to protect U.S. interests around the globe, and qualified contractors will continue to have the opportunity to quietly contribute to these victories. O Lamont Woody, director of operations for Fluor’s Government Group, is responsible for contingency operations programs and services, primarily in support of U.S. Department of State, U.S. special operations and United Nations’ requirements. Woody holds a Bachelor of Science degree in electronics from Southwestern Oklahoma State University, and master’s degrees from the Army Command and Staff College, the Naval War College and Southwestern Oklahoma State University. For more information, contact SOTECH Editor Chris McCoy at or search our online archives for related stories at

The U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard JTAC training dome system, featuring MetaVR visuals, is now in production.

The Air National Guard Advanced Joint Terminal Attack Controller Training System (AATJS) is a combined effort of QuantaDyn, USAF Trainer Development, Battlespace Simulations, Immersive Display Solutions, and MetaVR. The AATJS is accredited by the U.S. Joint Fire Support Executive Steering Committee and the NATO Standardization Agreement (STANAG). The system meets or exceeds current STANAG standards.

Real-time screen captures are from MetaVR’s visualization system and 3D virtual terrain and are unedited except as required for printing. The real-time rendering of the 3D virtual world is generated by MetaVR Virtual Reality Scene GeneratorTM (VRSGTM). 3D models and animations are from MetaVR’s 3D content libraries. Inset photo courtesy of QuantaDyn Corporation. © 2014 MetaVR, Inc. All rights reserved. MetaVR, Virtual Reality Scene Generator, VRSG, the phrase “Geospecific simulation with game quality graphics,” and the MetaVR logo are trademarks of MetaVR, Inc.

Simulation training is a flexible alternative for constricted budgets. As it continues to evolve, 3-D technology will offer new tools and capabilities so that U.S. special forces can increasingly rely on simulation as a means of training and mission planning, according to companies developing the systems and other experts. “It’s pretty remarkable stuff, and it just keeps getting better,” said Thomas Baptiste, president of the National Center for Simulation, an Orlando, Fla.-based nonprofit trade association with government, academic and industry members. “As we make avatar technology look better, as the virtual-world technology—the images themselves, the replication of a real-world area—becomes better and more realistic, you kind of get to that point where you can suspend disbelief and make it feel more real for the trainee, if you will. That just gets better with time, and I think it will continue to get better.” In particular, U.S. special forces and others in the military will find that modeling and simulation will provide a cost-effective tool for training, given the tight budgets they will have to deal with for the foreseeable future, said Baptiste, a retired Air Force lieutenant general. “We’re going to have to find new and innovative ways to train at home station, because there simply just isn’t enough O&M [operating and maintenance] money to do as much live training as we did in the past. It just costs too much money,” he said. “When you’ve got fewer dollars in your O&M accounts and you’re looking for ways to maintain readiness, one of the things that you will have to think about is the balance between live training and simulation because simulation, of course, is a cost-effective alternative. “Now, you can’t replace all live training with simulation. But the balance between the two is going to have to be something that the service chiefs—and even special ops—have to look at because of the budget pressures that we see for the next several years.” 8 | SOTECH 12.4

By Scott Nance SOTECH Correspondent

Specifically, 3-D technology can provide an effective training environment when budget pressure means less travel than in the past, Baptiste said. “I think immersive technologies—maybe game-driven—are going to be a new way to approach things at home station, where you don’t need 10,000 acres of range to train,” he said. “If you can immerse a single soldier, or a squad of soldiers, into an immersive environment and make it look like reality of that area of the world that you’re worried about, there are options to do things differently through that immersive kind of simulation.” Simulation also has become an especially effective training tool for young special operators, whom Baptiste referred to as “digital natives.” “They want to be challenged with something in their hand, and they’re not afraid of technology because they’ve grown up playing video games,” he said.

Flexibility Is Key Special forces are among those demanding simulation tools which offer a high degree of flexibility, said Kenneth Duck, vice president of Battlespace Simulations, a provider of PC-based simulation solutions. Among these solutions is Modern Air Combat Environment, its system providing computer-generated/ semi-automated forces and threat generation for distributed simulation environments, joint terminal attack controller (JTAC) training capability, electronic warfare simulation capability, mission rehearsal and man-in-the-loop combat aircraft simulation. “I think why we’ve been successful with Special Operations Command and others is because we are able to give them a lot of different skill sets,” Duck said.

reconstruction capability is one that we have spoken to a number For instance, a special forces team might need unmanned of people about.” aerial vehicles, tanks, humans and other assets all within a given Often 3-D technology used to build models and simulations simulation environment, he said. have to be collected specifically with that use in mind, Damush “The neat thing about simulation today is that we have the said. That’s not the case with 2d3 Sensing’s systems, he said. power to do that, and our company provides that,” he added. “Where we have focused our energies is based on the assumpFurther, a user can change which asset he’s simulating— tion that we don’t control anything to do with the capture of the quickly switching, for example, from a HMMWV to helicopter— original data, in that we’re trying to give an analyst, a training within a given scenario, Duck said. “They basically want a lot of manager, a mission planner an ability to create flexibility in their simulation to create diverse-type these kinds of assets from whatever raw data they scenarios,” he said. may have access to,” Damush said. “That might be a One area where Battlespace Simulations is purvideo clip, it might be a series of stills, it might even suing development is the ability to “meld software be a simulated piece of imagery.” with live” training, Duck said, noting the Air Force 2d3 Sensing’s technology also is capable of Research Laboratory funded the company for a twoquickly developing simulations on readily available year R&D program. commercial hardware, he said. “It would be a combination of real world [sce“Our customers don’t have much appetite to nario] and actual simulation. That’s where it’s buy an appliance from us,” he said. “They’ve already headed,” he said. “The customers definitely want it, made their investment in computing equipment, and we’re getting money thrown at us because they and they say, ‘Okay, we’ve got two Dell Xeon servers have confidence we’ll be able to deliver that.” Kenneth Duck with this kind of memory. What can you do?’” Another aspect to growing flexibility is the The technology can create simulations from willingness of simulation software providers to a variety of data, 2d3 Sensing’s system can update adhere to open standards, according to Jon Damush, simulations with new assets in a given environpresident and chief executive of 2d3 Sensing, a ment—a key benefit for special operators, Damush California-based software provider. said. “As a commercial off-the-shelf company, we “The ability to create assets in a timely manner believe heavily in the need [for], and the promotion we think is critical, because the world changes— of, standards in the community so systems can talk especially in areas where our special ops guys have to one another,” he said. “In the defense world, as to deploy,” he said. “Physical assets in those areas you probably know, not everybody thinks that way. could be tents, they could be hovels, they could be As a matter of fact, the bigger the companies get, holes in the ground—they’re not physical structhe more proprietary they try to be so they can own Jon Damush tures that stand for decades. That tactical landscape more and more of the revenue pie that’s coming out changes, sometimes daily. of a given agency.” “The ability to model that, and train to that, I think is a critical point to their success,” he added. “The technology that we’re ‘Whiz-Bang’ Capabilities trying to bring to bear is specifically focused on that kind of rapid asset-generation capability.” Another key to flexibility—and quick utility of 3-D environSpecial operators could even send back data from a small, ments—is an ability to build simulations from different types of hand-launched unmanned aerial vehicle, and the software “will data, Damush said. build the best model we can with that data,” Damush said. “We have software libraries that go all the way down to the “By taking that approach, we’re trying to solve that short root level for encoding video and metadata, and all the way up to flash-to-bang time limitation, to get them as fresh tactical data the really advanced level … which is computer vision,” Damush we can possibly get them so as they’re doing the work-ups, and said. “That is, we can do smart things with pixels. When I say training, and measurement and modeling of sniper lines-of-fire, ‘smart things,’ I mean we can take imagery from a still or a movfor example, they are working with the freshest data they possibly ing camera and derive different types of information and different can—sometimes even [after being] tactically deployed,” he said. types of assets.” A special operator even could build a 3-D simulation in the For example, special operators could fly an aircraft around a field on a laptop, Damush said. compound in a desert. If they were to send back video, 2d3 Sens“If all they have is a Toughbook, sure, instead of taking 15 ing’s system could re-construct a 3-D model of that compound, minutes to build a model it might take an hour now—because the he said. Toughbook only has so fast a processor—but there will be nothing “These are the types of whiz-bang computer vision capabilities in that computing platform that precludes us from being able to that we bring to bear. I think the connection of standards, combuild a model for them,” he said. O puter vision and media mastery kind of all combine to provide us a pretty unique position in the marketplace,” he added. “When it comes to training, simulation and specifically mission planning, the special operations community is a community that we For more information, contact SOTECH Editor Chris McCoy at or search our online archives think we have a lot of value to offer and a community that we are for related stories at chasing heavily in terms of supplying our capabilities to. The 3-D

SOTECH  12.4 | 9

Trusted standards and new tech will assist

SOF divers.

By Jeff Campbell SOTECH Correspondent

While some Marines and SEALs have spent the past decade or so getting dirty in desert or mountainous regions, DoD’s re-balance to the Pacific is forcing them to switch gears. With a headquarters near the world’s largest Navy base, Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Va.-based ADS Inc. knows a thing or two about top-of-the-line diver gear. Maritime mobility has been significantly enhanced with the recent developments of the Wing Inflatable P4.7 and P5.8 boats and the Evinrude multi-fuel engine (MFE), according to John Ennis, program capture manager at ADS. “Wing Inflatable boats are constructed from specially developed polyurethane fabric with heat welded seams (vice being glued) for extended service life, and two to three times the puncture resistance compared to Hypalon or PVC fabrics,” he said. Of special note about the engine recommended to power those boats, the Evinrude MFE is the first lightweight 30HP production engine that meets the U.S. military shipboard use gasoline requirements mandated by DoD’s common fuels initiative. “These platforms will significantly increase the operational effectiveness of maritime 10 | SOTECH 12.4

units while reducing the dangers associated with ‘gasoline-only’ engines onboard U.S. Navy ships,” Ennis said.

New Tech Above and Below Among some of her top choices for 2014, Melissa Sikorski, ADS maritime and diving category manager, listed the Argonaut titanium dive knife, sphere combat mask and the Rocket II fins as the go-to for the foreseeable future. “Having the right gear for the job is critical as we increase focus on the Pacific and develop skill sets that have been shelved for many years,” Sikorski said. “Equipping our maritime forces with cutting-edge technology for operations in littoral environments will be a top priority for operational commanders, and it is imperative that this equipment be issued at the beginning of the training cycle.” Before leaping into dangerous waters, divers need to check the fit of their suit for both maneuverability and maintenance reasons; Sikorski has a couple of recommendations there as well. “The wet suits and dry suits available today from companies like Xcel and White’s Manufacturing are designed with fewer panels and seams

to maximize durability while incorporating unique sizing variants to ensure a proper fit,” she said. “Xcel incorporates an ergonomic design into their wetsuits with contoured knee panels, quick dry technology, and maximizing stretch for a superior fit and increased durability.” Is technology taking over now rather than standard diving equipment? There’s no doubt, according to Shark Marine CEO Jim Garrington. “I think the biggest thing in what we’re doing is giving divers the safety and the ability to navigate underwater, and to be able to image things—that’s a really valuable tool,” he said. Our SEALs get added advantage when new tools are easy to use. “These guys have got enough other things to worry about, so when they’re coming in with other equipment, it needs to be simple for them to operate.” Among Shark Marine’s specialties are handheld underwater sonars and navigation systems, which give divers security through awareness of what’s around them. “Sonar allows them to do things with a lot smaller overhead than what they’re used to; now they can get away with small boats as opposed to bringing in large mine hunters,” Garrington said, noting that advances

in this area allow them to get in the water for less money while getting the same mission accomplished. “And in a lot of cases, now that we’re doing autonomous systems, we’re able to keep man out of danger with the sonar systems, allowing them to see what’s ahead of them before they get to it, as opposed to the braille method of looking at mines, and at the same point being able to avoid other hazardous situations.” Not only does sonar give the diver a tremendous amount of self-awareness and protection, but maritime machinery is aiding man in evolving humanitarian missions like the search for a missing Malaysian airliner. SOTECH spoke with Bluefin Robotics COO Jeff Smith at this year’s Sea-Air-Space Exhibition, while the Bluefin 21 vehicle was standing by about 1,000 miles off the coast of Australia. Not long after, possible pings from the aircraft were detected, and the Bluefin 21 got to work. “The Bluefin 21 was the first vehicle we ever really created, it’s how Bluefin got its start 17 years ago, initially under the Office of Naval Research,” Smith said. “We built that heavyweight class of vehicle

to get sonars out there autonomously, be able to go deeper, get better imagery.” While it’s not the happiest of circumstances, tragedy gave Bluefin an opportunity to show the world how it can collect clean, crisp images and determine whether what it sees is engine, ship or fuselage parts, for example. “The vehicle that’s there has a side-scan sonar, it operates to about 400-500 meters per side, so about a kilometer swath width as the vehicle’s doing its clearance of an area, that doesn’t matter how dark the water is, that’ll get good imagery to that full range,” Smith said. “Malaysia Air is getting a lot of attention for getting those vehicles out there and showing some use and showing how quickly we can fly [the sonar] to the other side of the world, deploy it on a ship of opportunity and start collecting data.” The Bluefin 21 can operate in shallow waters, but is intended for deeper dives. The company has a full range of systems that can also do ship hull inspections. That way, rather than sending a team of divers in to look for attachments on the ship’s hull, it can be done autonomously with sonars or

a video camera if the water in port isn’t too murky. One sailor with first-hand experience in this type of work is retired Captain Jon Tobias, defense and international markets business director at Bluefin, who said the vehicle is a great shipmate for the classic underwater detect, classify, identify and engage scenario. “Right now, we can detect, classify and identify, and we’re working on putting manipulators on it to do the engagement,” Tobias said. “It’s got a lot of other applications too, like ship maintenance and infrastructure inspection, and it can actually do bottom search too.” One incoming call EOD divers know well is that for a limpet mine, a naval mine attached to a target by magnets. “Literally, you’ve got to go down, make sure the ship is tagged out, make sure it’s safe to dive, then you get the divers ready, you put the divers in the water,” Tobias said. “It takes a lot of time, and time is your biggest enemy.” Now with a hovering vehicle, almost anyone can employ it with near immediate response. “You program it, it takes a few minutes, get it in the water and right to

SOTECH  12.4 | 11

work on doing the hull inspection,” Tobias said. He pointed out that the vehicle assist is much more accurate. “In a dirty water environment, you’re really working by how good your visibility is, whereas with the sonar imagery that you get, you’re not really worried about the turbidity in the water, you can go to work no matter what the conditions are.” If a SOF team wanted to get really creative, a rather large vehicle named Proteus is ready to get underway. Battelle’s Bob Geoghegan told SOTECH at Sea-Air-Space that the sub with 350 hours on it had done some work for the Navy Research Lab and was set to go with demos for the Naval Surface Warfare Center. The Proteus is a possible test vehicle for the large displacement UUV under development. “A SOF team normally operates a manned SEAL delivery vehicle,” Geoghegan said. “With a vehicle like Proteus, they could drive it ashore and then send it on its way, and then tell it when to come back and where and it could operate in that mode.” Or, a bit more realistically, it could be the unmanned truck for the SEALs. “They could have it carry supplies and gear and follow them—that’s probably a little more in tune with the way SEALs operate,” he said.

It’s a Wrap When the special operations maritime mission set was put up in the closet, gear like dry and wet suits was shelved as well. Now with an increased focus on waterborne operations in the Pacific, those same suits can’t just come back out and get right back in the water. “Even though it [may seem] new, 10 years old is not new stuff,” said Kim Johns, president at St. Helens, Oregonbased Under Sea Industrial Apparel (USIA). “They’re not purchasing anything that’s 10 years old or ’70s technology.” With assistance provided through the Small Business Administration’s small business innovation research program (SBIR), USIA has teamed with Virginia-based NanoSonic to fuse next-generation dry and wet suit ensembles. The new suits being developed leverage NanoSonic’s HybridSil technology, a silicon-based copolymer molecularly cross-linked with fabric that tests have shown to be 40 percent stronger than Kevlar and 15 times stronger than steel. NanoSonic Chief Technical Officer Vince Baranauskas, Ph.D., who co-invented 12 | SOTECH 12.4

HybridSil, set out to provide the special forces community with a disruptive technology that offers a previously unavailable combination of protection, durability and comfort. “There have been really marginal increases in durability over the years, so what we’ve done through this program is provide the material that is a real game changer that provides higher levels of threat protection,” Baranauskas said. “In fact, a whole wet suit or dry suit can be structured with this technology and still have long term marine environmental durability.” The term “game changer” may seem to be thrown about loosely at times, but since the diving industry has been incorporating the same dry and wet suit materials for more than three decades, this is kind of a big deal. “Having puncture proof/laceration proof/ abrasion proof fabrics that far exceed what’s out there now that still have form fit and function is pretty special,” Johns said. In SBIR phase one, NanoSonic established the feasibility and commercial potential of this new line of next gen suits. The government assistance is appreciated, because the dive industry cannot afford to invent a new fabric on its own, let alone a next-gen fire resistant infused liquid ceramic. “Anything in the dive industry, from regulators to suits to pretty much any gadget you use, is some form of a morphed military project that got commercialized,” Johns said. In the program’s second phase, SBIR funding enabled further R&D efforts. “Durability depends on the nature of the threat,” Baranauskas noted. “Our primary threats that we’ve designed this material around for dealing with the marine environment include laceration, abrasion and puncture.” NanoSonic’s research showed that the average SOF diver’s suit incurred the most damage from barnacle impact. “We set up a customized board with glass shards on it and did a drop impact test from a given height and compared several materials,” Baranauskas said. At the beginning of the third and final SBIR phase, NanoSonic chose USIA as its transition partner, and now the team is set to supply an experimental dive unit with about 15 suits for form, fit and function testing. “We have produced working prototypes that we are confident will not have operational issues,” Johns said. The most challenging aspect of creating these new suits is sealing the raw fabric materials with the HybridSil product. In

phase one, scientists at the NanoSonic lab coated diving suits of woven Spectra fabric with HybridSil to see if the suit would remain waterproof at pressure. Squirting the suits down in a paint booth isn’t costeffective, so follow-on trials moved to infusing the fabric via silicone-based glues, as traditional glues wouldn’t stick. Getting it right long before the suit hits the water will give the end user added protection that can potentially save them precious seconds. “During an operation if you punch a hole in something, the ability to repair that in the field is not really something you want to have to deal with,” Johns said. In addition to eliminating field repairs, the suits will likely be maintenance-free because they’re not made from traditional materials that have experienced maintenance issues. “Anything that has a rubber or an elastomer base to it is subject to degradation from ozone depletion, sunlight/UV rays, chlorine, any of those things you find in waterborne environments,” Johns said. “When you have a suit now that’s not elastomer or plastometer, but is silicon-based and infused liquid ceramic, you take all of those environmental factors that used to make it not last a long time off the table.” Once all the testing’s complete and the suits are ready to be put to work, the end product will potentially have a couple hundred percent increase in puncture resistance—or the magnitude increase in abrasion resistance verses currently employed commodity materials within the dive community. “This is all while maintaining flexibility,” Baranauskas pointed out. “Usually, these types of properties are mutually exclusive. Softer materials, generally speaking, lack puncture/laceration/abrasion testing, whereas harder materials perform better.” Through combining innovations and polymer science, native technology and high-performance fabric technology, and with SBA assistance, industry teams are combining conventionally dissimilar material properties into something that may be available to the special forces dive community as early as the spring of this year. O

For more information, contact SOTECH Editor Chris McCoy at or search our online archives for related stories at

AC-235 ... Innovation Delivered.

ATK in collaboration with King Abdullah II Design and Development Bureau (KADDB) of the Kingdom of Jordan, developed and provided the system integration and aircraft modifications to modify two of the country’s CASA235 transport aircraft into highly-capable and cost-effective special mission aircraft. The AC-235 is the first gunship of its kind outside of the U.S.A. This is ATK. ATK.International@

ATK is a registered trademark of Alliant Techsystems Inc.


Compiled by KMI Media Group staff

Soldier Radio Waveform Appliqué Exelis Exelis has been awarded a five-year indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract by the U.S. Army Contracting Command to provide radio appliqués capable of running the Army Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW). The contract has a potential ceiling of $988 million and also includes five one-year options that can be exercised at the Army’s discretion. The appliqué will host SRW, a waveform developed by Exelis that operates in the UHF and L-Band frequency ranges and provides an affordable second channel solution to Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio Systems (SINCGARS) vehicular radio installations. The initial Exelis offering on this contract is the SideHat, a radio specifically developed for the vehicular electromagnetic and physical environment experienced on the battlefield.

Exelis, a leader in extending critical networks, designed SideHat to easily integrate with SINCGARS, the primary tactical communications backbone for the U.S. Army with nearly 600,000 fielded. SINCGARS with SideHat and SRW provides a system solution with up to four channels (2 SRW and 2 VHF). It provides dismounted soldiers the ability to communicate both voice and data to mounted soldiers in vehicles within a larger network. “The SRW Appliqué will provide the U.S. Army with a cost effective means to add a robust waveform for battlefield communications,” said Nick Bobay, president of the Exelis Night Vision and

Communications Solutions division. “As the developer of SRW and the manufacturer of an installed base of nearly 600,000 Army radios, we have the capability to deliver both the performance and value expected from fielding the SRW Appliqué.”

Ground Mobility Vehicle 1.1 Armor

Miniature Pressure Sensor

TenCate Advanced Armor

Measurement Specialties

TenCate Advanced Armor in Newark, Ohio, has been selected by General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems (GD-OTS), the prime contractor for the U.S. Army Special Operations Command (SOCOM) ground mobility vehicle (GMV), to provide the GMV 1.1 armor solution. This order has a value of about $30 million. Revenues will be generated in the next three to four years. Initial production will start during the second half of 2014. The Pentagon awarded General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems a $562 million contract for GMV 1.1. SOCOM plans to purchase up to 1,300 GMVs over the next six years to replace SOCOM’s current fleet of specialized HMMWVs. TenCate Advanced Armor offers complete vehicle armor and occupant survivability solutions for tactical and combat vehicles.

14 | SOTECH 12.4

Utilizing a wide range of armor materials and technologies, survivability products of TenCate include lightweight passive armor as well as advanced active underbody IED protection. “We are extremely excited to be a part of the GD-OTS team. The GMV platform is a perfect platform for our lightweight armor solutions,” said Mark Edwards, president of TenCate Advanced Armor USA. “The GMV program is certainly an important part of the future enabling technologies for the United States Army Special Forces and we are proud to be able to participate on such an important program.” The TenCate GMV armor solution consists of the primary vehicle armoring solution including transparent armor. TenCate will design and manufacture the armor and provide it to GD-OTS as a complete kit ready for installation.

Measurement Specialties offers the XPC10, a miniature pressure sensor that accurately measures both static and dynamic pressures across a wide operating temperature range of -40 degrees Celsius to 220 degrees Celsius. The new XPC10 uses a rugged, stainless steel housing to protect the sensor from corrosive liquids, chemicals and gases found in many industrial, military and aerospace applications. Combined with its compact profile, as small as 12 mm, the XPC10 is easily installed in a number of harsh environments including test benches, oven monitoring equipment and cooling regulation systems. Measurement Specialties’ SanShift technology, incorporated into the new sensor, ensures long-term performance by eliminating zero shifts caused by installation torque. A foil strain gage wired in a fundamental Wheatstone bridge circuit is at the core of the sensor to provide excellent temperature stability. The XPC10 is available in absolute, sealed and gauge ranges from 10 bar to 500 bar, with an onboard amplifier available for all ranges, as well as in M10x1 or 3/8-24 Unified Coarse Thread threaded designs. Standard output impendence is less than 1,000 ohm, with less than 100 ohm available upon request. Custom sensors can incorporate an optional temperature probe and titanium construction in addition to IP67 ingress protection and a lower pressure range down to 5 bar.

Sotech 12 4 part1