U.S. Army soldiers standing next to a helicopter

The U.S. Army’s Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) has previously been summarised as an organisation to design, develop, and build the Army.

Part of these efforts look at ways things can change within the Army to make the lives of the soldiers much easier. Their top 10 efforts of 2016 have been released, which we have looked at below:

Lighter ballistic shirt

A new, much lighter ballistic shirt was designed last year, which is said to weigh 35% less than the current interceptor body armour system components it will replace. Speaking of the design process for the shirt, team leader of the Infantry Combat Equipment Team at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, Robert DiLalla, said the following: “We set out with this science and technology effort to meet the needs of high-performance athletes, which is what soldiers are.

“The soldiers have spoken loud and clear with more than 90 percent user acceptance in multiple user evaluations.”

The shirts are expected to be ready for use by 2019.

Enhanced Tactical Multi-Purpose (ET-MP) grenade

Lefties rejoice! Engineers at Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey are developing an “ambidextrous” Enhanced Tactical Multi-Purpose (ET-MP) grenade, which can be thrown more easily with either hand. The current M67 grenades require a different arming procedure for left-handed users.

If you are a leftie, you will know that the struggle to use certain items is real, even in the world of airsoft guns and grenades, so this development will be music to the ears of many! Matthew Hall, the Grenades Tech Base development lead has stated that the transition to the new grenades is expected to take place in 2020.

New armoured vehicle

The first armoured, multi-purpose vehicle, or AMPV, was given to the Army on the 15th December to start a 52-month manufacturing and engineering development phase. The AMPVs are set to replace the M113 armoured personnel carriers.

Debut of Joint Light Tactical Vehicles

The first seven JLTVs from Oshkosh Defense were handed over to the Army and Marine Corps in September for testing at different sites around the force. The JLTV has been designed to be a tactical wheeled vehicle complete with a chassis that offers protections from underbelly explosions, whilst also having a greater fuel efficiency.

New tourniquet

A new “junctional” tourniquet began being introduced into the field during 2016, which can be used to stop haemorrhaging in the torso, rather than the limbs.

Improved helicopter engines

The Army has begun developing a new engine for their AH-64 Apache and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters to give it greater lift capability in high-altitude environments. The improved turbine engine programme, or ITEP, has been said to suit environments such as Afghanistan.

“Entangled Photons” for more secure communications

Scientists at the Army Research Laboratory are considering ways to use the photon to enhance communications, sensing and cryptography. The photon is the most elemental component of light, with the idea being to “entangle” photons, which could lead to more secure networks.

However, Michael Brodsky, a physical scientist at the Army Research Laboratory, said the following of the research: “We don’t really know what all the applications are, but our mandate, in part, is to find those applications.” Good luck chaps!

Hydrogen powered vehicle

General Motors worked together with the Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center to roll out a prototype of the ZH2, which runs on a hydrogen fuel cell rather than diesel. The prototype was unveiled in October at the Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Symposium, although there hasn’t been an official roll-out date released as of yet.

Longer range howitzers

Picatinny Arsenal engineers have been working on doubling the range of the M777A2 howitzer by developing the extended range cannon artillery, or ERCA. The weapon adds six feet to the cannon, but less than 460 kilograms to the overall system.

It has been said that the M777A2 can current shoot around 30 kilometres, but once all the upgrades are complete, it will be able to shoot around 70 kilometres.

30MM cannon for Stryker Vehicles

The first prototype of an M1126 Stryker mounted with a 30mm cannon was delivered to the Army in October. Army Vice Chief of Staff, Gen. Daniel Allyn said that the model moved to address a “capability gap” with the Stryker models which was discovered after Russia’s aggression against Ukraine in 2014.