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New "Ironman" Ammo Pack game-changer on the battlefield

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  • New "Ironman" Ammo Pack game-changer on the battlefield

    Inspired by ‘Predator’ Film, Troops Turn Backpack Into Massive Ammo Clip




    FORWARD OPERATING BASE MEHTAR Lam, Afghanistan, Oct. 14, 2011 -- It all began during an intense 2 1/2-hour firefight with the enemy earlier this year in Afghanistan.

    As members of the 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, Iowa National Guard, sat around later at Forward Operating Base Mehtar Lam and discussed the engagement, they talked about how three-man teams manning crew-served weapons struggled to stay together over difficult terrain in fluid battles.

    Someone mentioned actor Jesse Ventura in the movie "Predator." His character brandished an M-134 Mini-gun fed by an ammo box on his back. After the Soldiers had a good laugh over that thought, Staff Sgt. Vincent Winkowski asked why a gunner couldn't carry a combat load of ammo. He decided to pursue the idea.

    "When we first arrived in theater in late October (2010), we were issued the Mk 48 7.62 mm machine guns," Winkowski said. "This was a new piece of equipment for us, and we struggled to come up with a solution for carrying and employing ammunition for it due to our small size and the inability to have a designated ammo bearer, as is common doctrine with the M240B.

    "The ammunition sacks that came with it made it too cumbersome and heavy to carry over long, dismounted patrols and especially when climbing mountains. Initially, we came up with using 50-round belts and just reloading constantly, which led to lulls of fire and inefficiency."

    So Winkowski grabbed an old ALICE (all-purpose lightweight individual carrying equipment) frame, welded two ammunition cans together -- one atop the other after cutting the bottom out of the top can -- and strapped the fused cans to the frame. To that he added a MOLLE (modular, lightweight load-carrying equipment) pouch to carry other equipment.

    "We wondered why there wasn't some type of dismounted (Common Remote Operating Weapons Station) that fed our machine guns instead of a mini-gun as portrayed in the movie," Winkowski said. "So, I decided to try it using the feed chute assembly off of the vehicle CROWS. We glued a piece of wood from an ammo crate inside the ammo cans to create the decreased space necessary so the rounds would not fall in on each other.

    "My Mark 48 gunners, Spc. Derick Morgan and Spc. Aaron McNew, who also had input to the design and evaluation, took it to the range and tested it, and even with its initial shortcomings, it was much better than the current TTP (tactics, techniques and procedures) we employed. On Feb. 26, 2011, our prototype 'Ironman' pack even saw its first combat use by Spc. McNew when our squad was ambushed by up to 50 fighters in a river valley, and it worked great!"

    After attaching pictures of the prototype to a request for information, Winkowski gave it to forward-deployed science advisers from the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command.

    The request landed on the desk of Dave Roy, a current operations analyst in the Quick Reaction Cell of the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, or NSRDEC, military deputy's office.

    "We looked at it," Roy recalled. "My first reaction was, 'Wow, that's cool.' I thought it was great."

    In his 21 years as a Soldier, he had seen his share of ingenious solutions to problems.

    "Our doctrine encourages Soldiers to think for themselves," Roy said. "That's why we're so effective on the battlefield. One of the things that makes us so effective against our opponents throughout history is the fact that we recognize the value of the doctrine, but we are not slaves to it."

    A similar system


    And that is why our troops are the best.
    Last edited by Commodore; 10-21-2011, 05:45 PM.

  • #2
    Re: New &quot;Ironman&quot; Ammo Pack game-changer on the battlefield

    I used to lug an M-60 around from time to time and this would have been awesome! 23# of MG, spare barrel kit and ammo load was generally a two man operation and absolutely sucked. The whole concept of "tactical" went right out the window and moving firing positions was a nightmare. This rig would be roughly 100 steps up from where I was 25 years ago.

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    • #3
      Re: New &quot;Ironman&quot; Ammo Pack game-changer on the battlefield

      Innovating creative solutions to needs you never knew existed. It's kinda what we do, isn't it?

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      • #4
        Re: New &quot;Ironman&quot; Ammo Pack game-changer on the battlefield

        Man, that MK48 is sweet! I just watched the video and it's even got a rail for optics. Damn. Sure would have made life easier. I once took out a pop-up at 1100 yards with open sights. The only thing I could see was a little glint of light when the target came up.

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        • #5
          Re: New &quot;Ironman&quot; Ammo Pack game-changer on the battlefield

          Ugh...I wish they would use more real, active, soldiers for designing almost all of the Army equipment. The POS stuff they build us for my job is always horrible and crazy expensive to boot. The funny thing is that some random SSG made this using materials that probably cost only a little over $200-$300 (with the medium ruck being the most expensive part [that's the new ruck they just came out with and I love that thing and can't believe it took the Army this long to figure something like that out]). If the contractors start mass producing this it will cost almost $1,000.

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          • #6
            Re: New &quot;Ironman&quot; Ammo Pack game-changer on the battlefield

            Originally posted by fishjoel View Post
            Ugh...I wish they would use more real, active, soldiers for designing almost all of the Army equipment. The POS stuff they build us for my job is always horrible and crazy expensive to boot. The funny thing is that some random SSG made this using materials that probably cost only a little over $200-$300 (with the medium ruck being the most expensive part [that's the new ruck they just came out with and I love that thing and can't believe it took the Army this long to figure something like that out]). If the contractors start mass producing this it will cost almost $1,000.
            Oddly enough, I used to own a ruck very similar to that one but frameless....it was WWI issue! We certainly had the ALICE frames but the flexible feed tray wasn't happening and nobody ever thought of cutting the bottom out of an ammo can. They were (are) highly prized for storing stuff and were "confiscated" as soon as they were empty.

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            • #7
              Re: New &quot;Ironman&quot; Ammo Pack game-changer on the battlefield

              It's all very well and organized, but what about all the other stuff they have carry? Water, food, God forbid a side arm.

              The folks at NSRDEC substituted a MOLLE medium frame for the ALICE frame. The ammo compartment now uses polycarbonate plastic instead of the original tin. Until NSRDEC can come up with a simpler, more cost-effective substitute, the ammo will continue to move through a 27-inch-long, $1,710 feed chute designed for the CROWS, which the Guardsmen had employed.

              "I knew in order for this to work, it needed to be as modular as possible," Roy said. "It needed to be based off of a current technology. We were able to put everything together very quickly and were able to prove that with a combat load -- that's 43 pounds with 500 rounds, inclusive of the weight of the kit itself -- that still gives the Soldier 17 pounds worth of cargo weight to attach to the frame and still be within the design specifications for the MOLLE medium."
              By that description, they have a fair amount of leeway, and can strap it to the outside, as it looks fairly compact. So I guess the question is, how many more rounds are they taking, and what are they sacrificing to do it?

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              • #8
                Re: New &quot;Ironman&quot; Ammo Pack game-changer on the battlefield

                Originally posted by Commodore View Post
                It's all very well and organized, but what about all the other stuff they have carry? Water, food, God forbid a side arm.



                By that description, they have a fair amount of leeway, and can strap it to the outside, as it looks fairly compact. So I guess the question is, how many more rounds are they taking, and what are they sacrificing to do it?
                From the looks of the rig and the size of an ammo can they're carrying 400 rounds....more if they pre-feed a belt. A canteen could still be carried belt high and a sidearm could go in a hip holster but if you're a machine gunner and end up having need of a sidearm it's been a very bad day. As far as carrying anything else this kind of loadout is for an ambush patrol and you're probably not going to be carrying too much else.

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                • #9
                  Re: New &quot;Ironman&quot; Ammo Pack game-changer on the battlefield

                  I do really hope the soldier(s) who thought this up get a goodly share of the money out of it if it should it become standard equipment.

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