MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. -- By Bill Johnson-Miles, MCSC Corporate Communications
Assault Marines and combat engineers from The Basic School on Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., tested a new model of the shoulder-launched multipurpose assault weapon, or SMAW Mod 2 on Quantico’s Range 15 in late November. They were the first Marines to fire the weapon upgraded with a new modular ballistic sight.
The Marines’ feedback will be provided to the SMAW project office under Infantry Weapons Systems at Marine Corps Systems Command after it is evaluated by the Marine Corps Operational Test and Evaluation Activity who coordinated and administered the operational assessment. The assessment lasted eight days, including new equipment training the first day, followed by two-day pilot testing, four-day record testing and a special test event on the last day. Overall, Marines fired 146 SMAW common practice rockets at targets ranging from 100 to 300-plus meters.
“Getting the user involved not only adds realism to the testing, but it also exposes any shortcomings in the system the designers might have missed,” said Lt. Col. Luis Lara, MCSC’s product manager for Anti-Armor Systems. “Testing in the laboratory environment, or even in a controlled outdoor environment, doesn't fully demonstrate the intended use of the system. Testing the weapon in a relevant environment helps us determine its operational suitability and operational effectiveness.”
The SMAW weapon system, with its launcher and family of rockets, gives an assault team the ability to defeat bunkers and fortified positions, light armored vehicles and other targets at ranges between 15 and 500 meters.
MCSC, the Department of the Navy's systems command for Marine Corps ground weapon and information technology systems and the Marine Corps commandant's agent for acquisition and sustainment of warfighting systems and equipment, is making changes to the SMAW based on the Follow-On To SMAW Capabilities Development Document. The changes include a new aiming system.
The Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren, Va., designed the SMAW’s new aiming system, a modular ballistic sight, or MBS, which is lightweight, detachable and reliable. It features a laser range finder and thermal weapon sight that provide the user a firing solution using crosshairs adjusted for distance and environmental factors, which is called displaced reticle. The SMAW Mod 2 also has increased pad size on the forward grip and foldable backup sights on the launcher to replace the rigid iron sights. With the MBS attached, the SMAW Mod 2 weighs about 13 pounds, which is 3.5 pounds lighter than the current model.
“The introduction of the SMAW Mod 2 reduces the overall weight our Marines have to carry, which increases their maneuverability,” Lara said. “The new MBS helps gunners quickly acquire their targets. This reduces target engagement time and exposure to enemy fire, and it increases their probability of a hit.”
According to the SMAW project office, the SMAW Mod 2 program is completing the engineering and manufacturing development phase. The production and deployment phase is scheduled for the third and fourth quarters of fiscal year 2014. Depending on solicitation feedback and production readiness, the project office anticipates receiving a fielding decision by end of 2015.
“As acquisition professionals, it is our job to develop, test, procure and field weapon systems which enable our warfighters to be more efficient and capable in the battlefield,” Lara said. “So are we proud? The answer is absolutely.”