The Marine Corps announced Tuesday it will hold an industry day later this month to find new armor and hearing protection capabilities as it prepares to buy equipment needed to improve battlefield situational awareness by fiscal year 2020.
Participants at the Sept. 27 industry day near Quantico will have the opportunity to meet with officials from the Marine Corps Systems Command’s (MCSC) Individual Armor Team and provide information on armor capabilities able to withstand threats from new weapons systems.
The industry day follows a new Marine Corps request for information (RFI), released on Sept. 5, to identify industry’s ability to deliver a new suite of hearing equipment devices compatible with the soon to be fielded Enhanced Combat Helmets.
MCSC’s Program Manager Infantry Combat Equipment (PM ICE) indicated it is looking to purchase between 7,000 and 65,000 hearing enhancement devices within the next three years.
“Marines have the earplugs and they do provide protection, but sometimes they choose not to wear them because they want to be aware of their surroundings at all times. The new headset we want to acquire will allow Marines to wear hearing protection, yet still provide the opportunity to communicate and understand what is going on around them,” Steven Fontenot, an MCSC project officer for PM ICE, said in a statement.
The RFI calls for information on a suite of hearing enhancement devices to increase protection that must also be compatible with Marine Corps radios and the new Enhanced Combat Helmet. The equipment can be designed as either over-the-ear or in-the-ear headphones, but must include versions that are both communications and non-communications enabled.
Officials said the new hearing equipment will be required to protect Marines from increasingly louder weapons systems to be deployed in the near future, and build on previous user testing and feedback.
“Most of the systems we’ve researched amplify the verbal and softer noises around the Marine, so they know what is going on while protecting against loud noises that could damage the ear,” Nick Pierce, Individual Armor Team lead, said in a statement. “Although we conducted an initial evaluation, the latest technologies could yield something better in 2020, and there are always things we can improve upon from the systems that were tested, such as comfort and the ability to clearly pinpoint which direction sound is coming from.”
Recon Marines have also tested similar headsets in Norway as officials aim for new systems to be ruggedized and provide hearing protection in the full range of potential combat environments, according to Fontenot.
“We want to make sure the headset we acquire is rugged and capable of operating in a wide range of environments a Marine might encounter, from cold weather to extreme heat,” Fontenot said.
The Individual ArmorTeam industry day will be held at the Get It Done Solutions facility in Triangle, Virginia, and registration to schedule a meeting will close on Sept. 21