Marine Corps Lightens its Load with Office of Naval Research Technology

ARLINGTON, Va. – February 3, 2009 – At the joint meeting of the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the Marine Corps Combat Development Command (MCCDC), held 26 January 2009, ONR showcased current and future technology investments aimed at providing lighter load solutions for Marine Corps warfighters.

“The Marine Corps equipment is getting too heavy,” said LtGen George G. Flynn, Commanding General of the Quantico-based MCCDC, “Everything has to be lighter and we need to put the Marine Air Ground Task Force on a diet.”

LtGen Flynn emphasized that ONR’s S&T investments would continue to lighten the combat load currently carried by Marines. In particular, ONR’s Advanced Weapons Material technology has already reduced the weight of the Marine Corps’ 60 mm and 81 mm mortar systems by 30 percent while achieving an 80 percent reduction in fabrication costs and a 10 percent reduction in life cycle costs.

The combat gear of the future would feature improved and lighter body armor, helmets, weapons and sights, communications equipment and other man-portable devices carried by Marines. The resulting increased mobility of the individual Marine would contribute to his or her survivability. Referring to vehicles, Flynn remarked that, “future vehicles need to balance the iron triangle of payload, protection and performance.”

The annual joint meeting provides ONR and Marine Corps leaders with a dedicated forum for reviewing current programs and the opportunity to identify emerging S&T needs. During the meeting, Chief of Naval Research RADM Nevin P. Carr emphasized ONR’s commitment to working closely with MCCDC to equip the next generation of Marines.

“The fact that ONR's Vice Chief of Naval Research, BGen Thomas Murray, is a Marine Corps flag officer speaks volumes about our commitment to ensuring the Marine Corps always has the technological edge they need,” RADM Carr said.

Over the course of the event, portfolio managers from ONR’s Expeditionary Warfare and Combating Terrorism, Command, Control Communications, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR), Sea Warfare and Weapons, and Warfighter Performance departments discussed ONR’s technology investments currently underway to enhance Marine Corps warfighting capabilities.

S&T programs and initiatives funded by ONR on behalf of Marines include those in the fullowing research areas:

    • Dominating in the Distributed Battlefield
      • Lighten the Load: New technology for helmets, body armor and vehicles
      • Advanced Weapons Materials
      • On-The-Move Long Haul Command & Control (C2)
      • Long-Range, High-Accuracy Fires
    • Survive and Perform
      • Blast Consortium
      • Cognitive Performance and Mixed Reality Training
      • Physical Performance in All Environments (e.g., altitude, heat, etc.)
    • Detect, Define and Defeat Terrorist Networks
      • Improving Actionable Intelligence
      • Tagging, Tracking, Locating/Biometrics
      • Social and Cultural Behavioral Modeling
      • Operational Adaptation

“The Corps’ view of Expeditionary Warfare means being adaptable along the entire spectrum of military operations, fighting on distributed battlefields, ‘living hard’ and using its unfair advantage in leadership, mobility, firepower, connectivity, sustainment and warrior ethos to accomplish any mission. This meeting was all about delivering the needed technologies to support that view,” said George Solhan, ONR’s Director for Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare and Combating Terrorism Department.



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