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SOCOM identifies experimentation opportunities

02nd August 2017 - 8:54 by Scott Gourley in California

SOCOM identifies experimentation opportunities

USSOCOM released a public notice on 25 July outlining its next planned round of Technical Experimentation (TE) activities.

The semi-annual TE ‘events’ are one of the key ways that USSOCOM’s technology teams engage with external technology providers in industry, academia or as individuals. 

Speaking at the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference (SOFIC) in May of this year Lisa Sanders, USSOCOM director of science and technology, highlighted TE as ‘a great way for tech providers to put their work into the hands of SOF operators in a relevant field environment'.

USSOCOM's descriptions of the events add that TE is designed to identify ‘potential Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 3 or greater technology solutions, impacts, limitations, and unities to meet SOF technical objectives and thrust areas'.

The latest TE announcement – identified as TE 18-1 – is calling for engineering interaction across the domain identified as SOF combat swimmer/diver and human performance. The initial experimentation event, which seeks ‘nominations’ of technology solutions at TRL 6 and 9, is planned for 13-17 November at the US Army Special Forces Underwater Operations School, Naval Air Station, Key West, Florida.

‘The primary intent of this event is to highlight technologies that support SOF combat swimmers/divers while in and during the transition to the water column,’ it stated. 

‘Of specific interest are those capabilities geared towards diver’s thermal protection, manned portable diver propulsion/maneuverability, underwater navigational equipment, and underwater communications which include networking in the water and transition to and from the maritime realm.’

The announcement goes on to characterise TE 18-1 as ‘a multifaceted effort for the individual SOF combat swimmer/diver and his equipment, with expectations for a family of systems approach to reduce redundant systems and ensure interoperability to the maximal extent practical. Reduction of size and weight is a priority, as each small reduction enables greater mobility, longer endurance, and reduced diver fatigue.’

Specific areas of interest will address topics such as active heating and cooling protection in the water column, reducing drag on swimmers and propulsion equipment, among others. The announcement goes on to state that communications, physiological monitoring and the reducing cognitive deficits related to prolonged undersea exposure are also key areas for discussion.

The deadline for the nomination of potential technologies is 25 August.

Looking further ahead, USSOCOM identified a ‘tentative’ TE 18-2 that will focus on optics/biometrics/advanced sniper rifle/cognitive enhancement and will be held at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center, Indiana. A TE 18-3 focused on C4 and cyber, ISR, small UAS, and mobility will take place at a location yet to be determined.

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