It wouldn’t be a new year without new gear, and the Army has plenty coming in 2020. New vehicles, weapons and uniforms are among the equipment soldiers could have their hands on before the year ends. Some equipment has already begun to make its way through Army units and will continue fielding in 2020. Other equipment will be brand new this year.
M17 and M18 Pistols
While the replacement for the Army’s M9 pistol isn’t exactly new, the Modular Handgun System will be new to soldiers in dozens of units in 2020. According to Army spokesperson Cathy Brown Vandermaarel, more than 55,000 M17s and M18s have been fielded since November 2017. In 2020 an additional 23,000 handguns will be issued to active, reserves and National Guard units throughout the continental U.S. The weapon is expected to be fielded Army wide by the end of fiscal year 2022.
“The M17/M18 Modular Handgun System is more capable than its predecessor, the M9 pistol, due to increased lethality, better ergonomics, and increased reliability, durability and maintainability,” Vandermaarel said in an email interview. “It also can accommodate a number of different attachments that can improve performance.”
Army Combat Fitness Test Equipment
The fielding of equipment for the Army’s new Combat Fitness Test began with the Kentucky National Guard in December 2019. Since then the Army has issued more than 1,500 of the sets which include bumper plates, barbells, medicines balls and a nylon sled with straps.
According to Vandermaarel, the Army is taking a regional approach to fielding this equipment with units in the Southeastern U.S. receiving it first. Fielding will progress to the Southwest in February, overseas in March, the Northeast in February and March, the Midwest in March and April, and finally the West in April and May. Fielding should be complete by mid-May, Vandermaarel said.
Tactical Digital Media Kits
The Tactical Digital Media Kit is specific to public affairs soldiers and includes audiovisual acquisition and editing equipment. To date, 270 kits have been fielded to priority units. An additional 327 kits will be fielded to priority units by the end of fiscal year 2020. Additionally, there are plans for a one-time purchase using National Guard and reserve equipment funds to purchase 560 kits specifically for National Guard use, Vandermaarel said.
According to Vandermaarel, the Tactical Digital Media kits are an improvement over the old video and still photo kits.
“Public Affairs teams are often dispatched with combat units to remote locations. Tactical Digital Media kits enable these teams to gather, process and deliver audio files, digital imagery and visual media,” she said. “The biggest difference between the TDM kits and legacy public affairs tools is the ability to send information through the same tactical network that operational units are leveraging in deployment locations. TDM kits also contain the latest digitally capable cameras, audio recorders and associated computers.”
Man Transportable Robotic System Increment II (MTRS Inc II)
Ordnance soldiers, engineers and special operations soldiers can look forward to a new robot in 2020 in the form of the Man Transportable Robotic System Increment II. This medium-sized, remote controlled robot has the capability to detect, identify and dispose of a range of hazards while keeping soldiers at a safe distance. The robot’s standard chassis accommodates multiple payload platforms for a variety of missions. According to Rae Higgins at the U.S. Army Program Executive Office for Combat Support and Combat Service Support Communications, the first unit to receive the MTRS Inc II will be the 55th Ordnance Company at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.
“The MTRS Inc II provides the warfighter with a standoff ability to locate, identify and clear landmines, unexploded ordnance and improvised explosive devices in the path of maneuvering Army or joint forces,” Higgins said in an email. “It also provides [Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear] soldiers with the capability to employ CBRN sensors from a distance.”
Infantry Squad Vehicle
According to an Army News Service article published in August last year, the Army has plans to field the Infantry Squad Vehicle in 2020. The first round of testing for the new nine-soldier vehicle was scheduled to take place at Aberdeen Test Center in Maryland in late 2019. A second round of testing would have taken place at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. According to the Army News Service article, after testing and selection of a vendor, there were plans for the purchase of 649 vehicles. Army Public Affairs personnel were unable to verify if the scheduled testing took place or what the results of the test were before deadline.
Army Greens Uniform
The much-anticipated World War II-era throwback uniform is still scheduled for a 2020 release, according to the Army’s official website. The uniform is described as “one of the most admired and recognizable uniforms in the Army’s history.” A testing phase was scheduled to take place between November 2018 and this month, with the uniform slated to become available for purchase through the Army and Air Force Exchange Service by April.
It is expected to be scheduled to new soldiers by July 2020. The uniform will be “cost neutral” to soldiers, meaning it will be covered by their annual clothing allowance. Army public affairs personnel were unable to provide updates on the uniform before deadline, according to the website.Read comments