As the military is undergoing probably the largest modernization in the infantry squad in the last 25 years, verything from optics to the weapons themselves are getting revamped.
The overhaul will significantly change how the Marine Corps fights and manoeuvres on the battlefield, as well as increase the lethality of infantrymen.
For example, the service is currently seeking a new rocket motor.. It is decreasing the number of tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided anti-tank missiles in the infantry battalion from eight to four and increasing the number of Javelins from eight to 12.
With that increase in the number of Javelins we need reliable motors that are low cost.”
Another area of interest is a new suppressor for rifles. “The intent is to suppress every M4, M4A1 and M27 in the infantry community. Our intent there is to move quickly and find the best possible suppressor we can that is good enough in order to move out in a quick enough fashion.”
Another top priority for the infantry weapon program office is the dual-tube, white phosphorus squad binocular night-vision goggle.
The service is also working on a new squad common optic that will be outfitted on the M27 to give Marines greater fidelity. The Marine Corps plans to field the optic to every infantry rifle platoon in order to give them an automatic capability.
The Service is also looking for a slew of new gear that Marines can wear.
“Part of our business in infantry combat equipment is outfitting Marines for battle with everything from uniforms to body armor to load-bearing equipment. making them look good, but also allowing them to operate safely and effectively” in any environment.
“Like everyone, we want it cheaper, better, faster. We also want something that’s scalable.” The service doesn’t want to have different sets of gear or armor for different missions, but rather modular pieces.
The current uniform is performing well, but the service wants to combine some capabilities. For example, the Marine Corps’ fire-resistant organizational gear, or FROG suits, work well in vehicles but are not well suited for walking through woods because they can give off short-wave infrared signatures that the enemy can spot.
“We stand out a lot and that’s kind of bad when you’re trying to camouflage someone. “We’re looking at bringing all of those things together — a lightweight, durable uniform that has FR and SWIR” concealment,
The service is also looking for a new lightweight tropical uniform that can be worn in hot and humid conditions. On the other side of the coin, the program office also wants new cold weather gear.
“If you look at where we’ve been for, say, the last 20 years, it’s kind of been hot and dry, but the service is now preparing for potential operations in environments that will have a very different climate.
A new intense cold weather boot is required.
“The seabag-issue boot works well down to 20 degrees” Fahrenheit. “The ‘Mickey Mouse’ boot — the big, rubber black one — works well, minus 20 or below. But it makes your foot really hot and sweaty in between so that’s not so good.”
To fill that gap, the service is looking for a boot that can be worn in temperatures between minus 20 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. The Marine Corps recently conducted testing with new boots and found some that worked well. However, challenges still remain.
Because of suede material on the footwear, “once they get wet on the outside they stay wet, and that just transmits the cold to the Marine’s feet, so they don’t like it so much. “In the dry cold it works great, stays well insulated — so we’re looking for something that works a little bit better in those wet, slushy conditions.”
The service is also mulling over new general purpose boots. “We have some good boots, … but we’re always looking for better.”
Additionally, the Corps is considering a “grunt boot” that would be specifically crafted for Marines working in infantry operations.
“What we keep running into is, we’ll find a boot that works well in one circumstance, but maybe not so in another or the durability sufferers.”
Many of the Marine Corps requirements are still undefined.