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Gear + Tech

The High-Tech Kit

A snapshot of state-of-the-art gear that will give Soldiers an extra edge
District of Columbia National Guard SSG Jackee Hutton Jr. models the new OCP uniform. Photos by Willis Bretz
District of Columbia National Guard SSG Jackee Hutton Jr. models the new OCP uniform. Photos by Willis Bretz

Everybody loves new. Whether it’s bigger, smaller, brighter, faster, sharper, sturdier or just plain nastier, newer is better. Recently we asked Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier, the Army acquisition agency responsible for nearly everything a Soldier wears or carries, to give us a glimpse of some of the newest and upcoming gear and weaponry that Soldiers will be fielded, either now or at some point in the future.

Whether they’re advanced models of equipment you’re familiar with, or they take technology to a whole new level, these items will enable troops to see farther, shoot straighter, improve safety, maintain better situational awareness and be more comfortable while fighting the good fight. And keep in mind that PEO Soldier is working on even more developments to equipment and weaponry that are too sophisticated to divulge at this time. Bottom line: Soldiers who stay in will be armed, girded and equipped like never before.

 

M26 12-GAUGE MODULAR ACCESSORY SHOTGUN SYSTEM (MASS)

Manufacturer: C-More Competition

The things that make a big gun great haven’t changed in forever: more power, less weight and WGLLT (works good, lasts long time). The M26 MASS qualifies. It can be used as an under-barrel attachment for the M4 with lethal, nonlethal and door-breaching capabilities. With a three- or five-round magazine, you’re not going to get a lot of play out of it in a firefight, but if you’re the door kicker, you’re going to save at least a couple critical seconds not having to switch back to your M4, and you’re going to save the weight and inconvenience of carrying an extra shotgun.

The M26 MASS featured here includes a pistol grip, which is not currently being fielded to Army units. To date, the M26 MASS is being fielded to Army military police and engineers, including the National Guard, and can be configured either as a stand-alone weapon or an under-barrel attachment to the M4.

 

(LEFT) LIGHT WEAPON THERMAL SIGHT (LWTS 17UM)

Manufacturer: Multiple companies

The Light Weapon Thermal Sight has been used in the field to great effect for a few years, but the latest 17 micron versions give increased performance with a longer battery life and a lower overall weight. Thermal sights are perfect for seeing through obscurations like haze and fog even during the day, or operating in zero or near-zero illumination levels.

 

(RIGHT) SMALL TACTICAL OPTICAL RIFLE-MOUNTED MICRO-LASER RANGEFINDER (STORM MLRF)

Manufacturer: L-3 Insight Technology Inc. 

The STORM MLRF is a portable laser system that operates either as a sighting system for small arms or as a handheld laser rangefinder. It’s compact enough to be convenient (1.4 pounds), technologically advanced enough to be effective (GPS integration-capable) and feature-heavy enough to be top-of-the-line (infrared illumination, visible point/targeting laser, onboard digital magnetic compass).

 

LIGHTWEIGHT LASER DESIGNATOR RANGEFINDER (LLDR 2H) 

Manufacturer: Northrup Grumman Guidance and Electronics, Laser Systems

The LLDR 2H is an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink laser imaging sight and targeting system. It has thermal and day sight capability, laser rangefinding, GPS positioning and a brand-new integrated celestial navigation system. It also is a laser designator, capable of sending out pulsed signals to designate targets for precision munitions. And clocking in at 31.5 pounds, it’s not a drag for the forward observers and scouts who use it. Best of all, it can be plugged straight into targeting systems to transfer data directly, removing the chance of human error.

 

ENHANCED NIGHT VISION GOGGLE (ENVG)

Manufacturer: ITT Exelis and L-3 Insight Technology Inc. 

Thermal sights have a wide range of benefits, including daytime target identification, vision through minor obscurations and use in no-light situations. The ENVG features enhanced visual acuity, combining image intensification and thermal sensor capabilities, giving Soldiers the best of both worlds.

 

TARGET RECONNAISSANCE INFRARED GEOLOCATING RANGEFINDER (TRIGR)

Manufacturer: BAE Systems

TRIGR combines a rangefinder and a thermal scope with a GPS unit, allowing forward observers, scouts, snipers and platoon leaders to find and transmit targeting data to weapons systems with indirect-fire capability. The handheld unit is lighter than any of its predecessors and has an upgraded battery life.

 

TACTICAL COMMUNICATION AND PROTECTIVE SYSTEM (TCAPS)

Manufacturer: Invisio

On the surface, this may not look as sleek as other pieces of gear. But the TCAPS has the potential to be hugely impactful for Soldiers. In FY 2010, the Department of Veterans Affairs spent an estimated $1.39 billion addressing service members with hearing loss. TCAPS technology enables Soldiers to hear what they need for situational awareness, but blocks out unneeded high-decibel sounds, such as gunfire or explosions. This keeps Soldiers from having to choose between hearing protection and force protection.