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Reusable Alternatives for Small Arms Signature Simulation for Live Training


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Electronics 

OBJECTIVE: Reusable alternatives to blank cartridges for use with dismounted MILES systems. 

DESCRIPTION: The Army’s goal has always been to train as they fight in a realistic environment. Live training intends to provide the most realistic environment to prepare the warfighter for actual combat. The Multiple Integrated LASER Engagement System (MILES) allows soldiers, commanders and instructors to simulate real-time, direct-fire, force-on-force (FoF) combat between opposing forces. MILES equipment is responsive to MILES coded LASER fire from MILES equipment. Functionally, the equipment conforms to the same hit, kill, and near miss definitions of firing event outcomes. Different versions of MILES systems are available. The Instrumentable – Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System (I-MILES) is designed to simulate both the direct-firing capabilities and the vulnerability of dismounted troops, tactical vehicles and combat vehicles and to objectively assess weapon effects during training. This provides unit commanders an integrated training system to use at the home station local training area and instrumented training areas. Gun-mounted MILES Small Arms Transmitters (SATs) are designed to emit lasers when they detect indicators that their gun is being fired – they wait for an explosive sound (report) and simultaneous shock from recoil. To produce a small arms signature effect without endangering trainees, the military uses blank cartridges, a type of cartridge that contains powder but no bullet. Blanks provide an acceptable level of realism, forcing the trainee to deal with real-life tasks such as gun jams and ammo management. The standard infantryman is issued 210 rounds (7 30-round magazines) for an operation. Stryker Brigade Combat Teams (SBCTs) contain 3 Infantry companies, each of which can consist of as many as 250 soldiers. Using those numbers, we can assume that a SBCT training exercise at the National Training Center (NTC) in Barstow, California will include as many as 750 trainees. If each soldier expends all of the rounds issued to him, a single Army Force on Force exercise can go through 157,500 blanks. At a price of $0.25 per blank, the Army could potentially pay $39,375 for blanks alone every exercise. This figure does not account for additional logistics costs such as storage and transportation or for blanks for OPFOR forces. Purchasing blank cartridges is a major cost driver for live training. This commodity is expendable, and some must be replaced each time a new exercise is initiated. Removing the need to replace blanks for each exercise could lead to major cost savings, reduced environmental impacts, and lessening the Army’s logistics burden. The idea of reusable alternatives to blank cartridges is not new. Previous offerings included a recoil actuating bolt paired with a battery-powered magazine & muzzle-mounted “flash” device. While a novel concept, the problem with this approach is that it requires modification of the firearm, leaving it unable to perform in an operational environment. An ideal solution would not require firearm modification, allowing trainees to switch from operations-ready to training-ready (and back again) with as few intermediary steps as possible. The Army continues to transition toward a “training on demand” paradigm, where the amount of time and money required to initiate training is reduced through the use of persistent & on-demand training products. A low-impact, reusable, easy-to-use alternative for blank cartridges would give the Army the flexibility to offer live-fire training with low overhead and little impact on operational capability. Having this capability would propel live Force on Force training forward toward full “training on demand” compliance. 

PHASE I: 1. Analyze/conduct a feasibility study and identify alternatives to blank cartridges for small arms weapons chambered in 5.56mm and 7.62mm that are inexpensive, easy to use, and require no firearm modification 2. Develop a proposed design for alternatives identified in Task 1. 3. Document a set of use-cases for the device based on doctrine and possible applications. 

PHASE II: After the scientific & technical merit of such a device is measured and approved, efforts during Phase II would entail the development of prototypes of the devices designed in Phase I. 

PHASE III: The commercialization potential of the product developed in Phase II is significant given the widespread use of MILES SATs. 




William Bogler 

(407) 208-5035 

Jesse Campos 

(407) 208-5035 

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