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SOFIC 2017: SOCOM seeks asymmetric advantage

15th May 2017 - 13:30 by Andrew White in London

SOFIC 2017: SOCOM seeks asymmetric advantage

US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has updated its requirements for lethality, protection and human performance as it seeks to further extend the operational effectiveness of force elements.

Published on 5th May 2017, the Special Operations Forces Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Directorate of Science and Technology (SOF ATL) is pursuing multiple technologies to provide ‘an asymmetric advantage for Special Operations Forces’, with industry given until June 5 to respond.

The Command is seeking a next-generation capability in regards to fragmentation weapons such as the 40mm x 46mm grenade with SOF ATL calling for an Enhanced Fragmentation Grenade (EFG) capable of supporting heavier payloads at longer ranges within existing pressure and recoil limits.

‘USSOCOM is interested in increasing the lethal area of a 40mm x 46mm fragmentation projectile with enhanced energetics and optimised controlled fragmentation. USSOCOM defines lethal area as having a minimum of 2 fragments per square meter and 90% of those fragments penetrating 12 inches of 10% tissue simulant,’ an updated Broad Agency Announcement revealed. 
Additionally, maritime force elements from the command are seeking payloads capable of being launched from Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs) and disabling 50m long or smaller vessels as part of maritime counter-terrorism operations. 

Elsewhere, USSOCOM has published requirements for next-generation human performance technology, designed to improve physiological, physical, psychological, and intellectual performance as well as reduce vulnerability to disease, stress and injury caused by ‘the demands of sustained operations in extreme environments’.  

The updated BAA stipulated interest in synthetic biology, pharmaceuticals, oxygen delivery to muscle groups, musculoskeletal injury prevention, increased pain tolerance and cognitive enhancement. 

The news follows similar sentiments from the French Special Operations Command at SOFINS in March, where defence sources described ongoing consideration of ‘hybrid intelligence’, consisting of virtual and non virtual reality, biology and deep machine learning.

Meanwhile, USSOCOM is also considering future technologies in the area of personal protective equipment,including ballistic body armour; combat helmets and eye protection. Specifically, the command is seeking lighter weight solutions with improved protection levels, with the BAA outlining the consideration of new ceramic armour materials; optimisation of fibre-based products; and lighweight polymer, glass and ceramic based solutions.

USSOCOM has demanded protection against small arms ammunition up to 7.62x51mm in calibre with a ballistic insert plate measuring no more than a single inch in thickness.

Finally, the Command continues to seek upgrades in the area of Optical Electronics with the latest updated BAA calling for optics, lasers, sensors and radar technology capable of enhancing ground-to-ground and air-to-ground targeting. Consideration is being given to man-portable equipment as well as long range enemy identification based on laser vibrometry technology.

‘Specific distances have yet to be determined, but should work outside the signature ranges of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance platforms to ensure surreptitious collection,’ official documents described.

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