Army seeks kits to integrate weapons with synthetic training environment 

By Ethan Sterenfeld / September 22, 2021 at 11:44 AM

The Army seeks prototype kits that can integrate current and future rifles with synthetic training environments without significantly changing the way the weapon looks or feels, according to a notice released Sept. 22.

“The [Weapon Skills Development] solution must simulate or enable the functional characteristics of the current and future family of individual and crew-served weapons,” the request for information states. “Soldiers must be able to move unencumbered (without wires and cables, i.e., tetherless), to rapidly assume different firing positions within the physical domain.”

Soldiers will use the kits while they are in synthetic training environments, and they will allow the Army to provide more immersive training scenarios, according to the RFI. Up to five soldiers with their own weapons, or up to six crew-served weapon teams, could use the system at a time.

Kits should not alter the “form, fit, and function” of weapons, although the service is interested in a capability that would prevent guns from firing real bullets with the kits installed, according to the RFI. The kits should not place “undue wear and tear” on the weapons.

During a training exercise, the kits will need to track the location, angle and orientation of the weapon, so that they can determine the trajectory of each shot, according to a list of requirements. Kits will also need to track the positions of the bolt and selector switch on each weapon.

Soldiers should be able to use their regular scopes and accessories with the kits installed, and the kits should not prevent pistols from fitting in standard issue holsters, according to the requirements list.

The system should be compatible with a range of the Army’s rifles and handguns, including the M4 carbine and its future replacement, the Next-Generation Squad Weapon, according to the list. It will also need to work with larger weapons, including grenade launchers, crew-served machine guns and shoulder-launched weapons.

Responses to the RFI are due Sept. 29.