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Special Operations Command targets vehicle upgrades


Special Operations Command targets vehicle upgrades


By Yasmine Tadjdeh

MRZR Alpha

Photo Polaris

NORFOLK, Virginia – New vehicle upgrade opportunities are available for industry to work with Special Operations Command.

“We have a pretty unique fleet here at SOCOM that touches on different programs,” said Marine Corps Lt. Col. Alfredo Romero, program manager for Special Operations Command’s family of special operations vehicles.

The command’s inventory includes Joint Light Tactical Vehicles, purpose-built non-standard commercial platforms, light tactical all-terrain systems, land mobility vehicles and more. There are currently platforms in the design, production and sustainment stages, Romero said at the National Defense Industrial Association’s annual Tactical Wheeled Vehicle Conference in Norfolk, Va.

One of the design-stage vehicles includes the non-standard purpose-built utility vehicle, which is being pursued as part of another Transaction Authority prototyping effort, Romero said.

“The idea for this vehicle platform was to build a vehicle from scratch on the chassis, with the ability to change skins,” he said.

The command designs the platform to have an extended life with the ability to travel longer distances.

Special Operations Command recently conducted tests with the vehicle and is currently awaiting the results before moving on to the next action, Romero said.

Meanwhile, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, or JLTV – which is being developed by a Joint Program Office for the Army and Marine Corps – is another project in the design stage. The platform is a common service vehicle provided to SOCOM components, Romero said. In fiscal year 2023, the command will begin applying modifications specific to special operations forces.

Part of Special Operations Command’s acquisition strategy is to leverage the services’ platforms, he said.

Anything the Army and Marine Corps provide is “good enough for SOF,” Romero said.

The command then applies SOF-specific changes to platforms, giving users greater flexibility, he added.

Next steps include a Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber ​​and Intelligence, or C5I, SOF Integration Kit, which will be tested in fiscal year 2022, according to slides presented during Romero’s presentation.

The JLTV will be one of SOCOM’s newest vehicles and will be a workhorse in the fleet, he said.

The command is also pursuing a Hybrid-Electric Land Mobility Vehicle System 1.1. A prototype platform is expected to be completed by July and the command will then begin testing, Romero said.

Meanwhile, platforms in production include the Light Tactical All-Terrain Vehicle, which is a SOF-modified off-the-shelf commercial system that can be airlifted internally via V-22, H-53 and H -47. The platform includes two- and four-seat variants. It can perform missions such as staggered infiltration, reconnaissance, and medical evacuation.

The command uses Polaris’ MRZR Alpha for the vehicle, Romero said. The program is a collaborative effort between Special Operations Command and the Marine Corps.

“We share the same common vehicle baseline,” he said. The platform is known as the ultra-light tactical vehicle within the Corps, he added.

“It’s a good vehicle overall,” Romero said. “The user community here really likes this platform.”

Going forward, areas of focus for the vehicle include integrating autonomy packages, signature management systems and inserting a communications suite, he said. There is also interest in electrifying the platform.

The LTATV was expected to complete performance testing in March, according to Romero’s slides.

Meanwhile, the service is maintaining its fleet of mine-resistant and ambush-protected vehicles as well as its Land Mobility Vehicle Platforms 1.0 and 1.1, he said.

In general, as SOCOM looks to the future, it is looking for lightweight armor for its fleet of vehicles, he said. Current armor solutions are heavy and limit the payload available to users, while decreasing the durability of the platform.

The command is also researching new signature management technologies, he said.

“It’s an important topic for us,” Romero said. “How do you manage signatures on the go? »

Hybrid-electric technology is another area of ​​interest, he said. “Anything we can do to create this extended range and also this silent watch…we’re all in on it.”

Autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicle technology — as well as augmented reality maintenance capabilities — are also areas SOCOM is considering, Romero said.

Topics: Special operations