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99--Technologies to enhance warfighter capabilities in subterranean environments

Solicitation Number: W91CRB14SBTREF
Agency: Department of the Army
Office: Army Contracting Command
Location: ACC-APG - Aberdeen Division D
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Sources Sought
Added: Dec 11, 2013 11:37 am
Request for Information (RFI) Synopsis: This synopsis constitutes neither a Request for Proposal nor an Invitation for Bid. It does not restrict the Government to an ultimate acquisition approach. This RFI should not be construed as a commitment by the Government for any purpose. THIS IS NOT A SOLICITATION: No award will be made as a result of this request. This request is for informational purposes only and possible vendor demonstration on mature technologies and systems (Technology Readiness Level 7, 8, or 9 as defined at:, pages 2-13 through 2-14).
Interested parties are encouraged to respond to this RFI. The Government will not pay for information, materials, and/or demonstrations received in response to this RFI and is in no way obligated by any information received.
1. Background and Scope:
The United States (US) Army Rapid Equipping Force (REF) was established in 2003 to combine and integrate functions that cross several Army staff elements and Army Component Commands (ACC) with the purpose of accelerating material solutions and technology insertion to forces committed in the Global War on Terror. In 2005, the Chief of Staff, Army (CSA) further refined REF's mission to include the following three broad functions.
Provide the Army's rapid response capability to develop, prototype, acquire, and integrate commercial and government off-the-shelf solutions to meet urgent combat requirements for deployed forces.
Develop and insert selected future force technologies, capabilities and surrogate material solutions into committed, deploying, and transformational forces for operational evaluation, assessment, and spiral development.
Plan and execute assessments and studies of Army practices and issues concerning operational needs, desired future force capabilities, and relevant Army business practices to provide feedback to Senior Army Leaders.
In an effort to defeat United States (US) intelligence and weapons technologies and to gain tactical and operational advantages both Military and irregular threats have begun relocating, and redeploying functions into subterranean operational environments (SbT OE). The growing use of tunnels and underground facilities (UGF) by military and irregular forces to gain a tactical advantage is becoming more sophisticated and increasingly effective, making the likelihood of US Forces encountering military-purposed subterranean structures on future battlefields high. The Middle East is full of ancient and modern underground systems that can be used as assets for the enemy forces. In the US, both the northern and southern borders of the nation have had tunnels discovered connecting the US to Canada and Mexico being used by criminal elements for human smuggling, drug running, and other illegal activities.
Besides specialized tools and equipment, US Forces need to have specialized personnel available for subterranean (SbT) combat operations, or at least incorporate a rigorous and realistic SbT warfare curriculum into the US Force's education system. With proper training and equipment, US Forces can achieve greater success and lower the risk of death or injury occurring during operations within SbT environments.
The purpose of this RFI is to determine existing and emerging Commercial-off-the Shelf (COTS) or Government-off -the-shelf (GOTS) technologies across several areas of interest that can be used to enhance warfighter capabilities in subterranean environments worldwide. The technology must not require any safety precautions or pose any safety or health hazards (i.e. toxic components, toxic waste, gases, fumes, burning residue, noise, etc.) against which user personnel cannot be protected.

2. Capability Requirements:
The Government is interested in receiving information on a broad array of technologies that have the potential to enhance warfighter capabilities in the subterranean operating environment. All proposed technologies should be capable of being transported by a single soldier and shall not create a more hazardous condition within the SbT environment without mitigation techniques, tactics, procedures (TTPs), and/or technologies. Lighter weight systems are preferred. The Government is interested in receiving white papers focused on the following technology areas (TA):
TA: Mobility - Soldiers must gain and maintain the tactical advantage in SbT environments. This requires Soldiers to have the ability to maintain freedom of movement through all types of terrain and obstacles. Examples of potential solutions may include, but are not limited to, mountaineering equipment used to climb vertical shafts and systems, both manned and robotic equipment (not bound by the single soldier portability requirement) that can assist in carrying the combat load of a soldier in a SbT environment.
TA: Protection - SbT environments limit the cover and protection available to a Soldier, highlighting the need for protection from the effects enemy weapons up to 7.62 mm machine gun weapons and hand-grenades. The enclosed nature of SbT environments may expose Soldiers to hazardous noise levels. Examples of potential solutions may include, but are not limited to ballistic shields and hearing protection.
TA: Reconnaissance - Soldiers need reconnaissance technologies that can increase Soldier capability to understand and map the layout of the subterranean environment and to understand the threats the Soldier may encounter, including Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and/or high-explosive (CBRNE) threats. Examples of potential solutions may include, but are not limited to, unmanned systems to map the SbT environment in a denied Global Position System (GPS) environment or GPS aided environment; systems that can assess air quality and structural integrity; systems that can detect effluents escaping ventilation shafts and systems that can identify enemy threats such as improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
TA: Communications - The SbT OE hampers Soldier communications using standard radio frequency (RF)-based radios currently carried by the Soldier, making mission command and control difficult. Specialized technology and/or TTPs are required to enable data, video, and voice communication between Soldiers and unmanned systems/sensors operating inside and outside the subterranean environment. Examples of potential solutions may include, but are not limited to, iridium satellite, meshed networks, non-RF communications, optical/infra-red relays, and automated communications relays.
TA: Breaching - Breaching technologies are needed to open secure entryways or to create new entryways in deliberately constructed SbT environments. These technologies are varied in nature and can be mechanical, explosive, ballistic, or thermal. Breaching technologies should also include any personal protective equipment required or recommended to be used by operators of the technology. Examples of potential solutions may include, but are not limited to, rescue style cutting tools, mechanical/hydraulic pry tools, and flame/hydraulic cutting tools. Note: breaching technologies shall not create a more hazardous condition within the SbT environment against which user personnel cannot be protected.
TA: Life Support - Soldiers require life support systems when air quality and oxygen levels in a SbT environment are unknown or assessed to be poor. Soldiers require the capability to sustain themselves in low quality air environments due to pollutants, obscurants, chemicals, and low airflow. Soldiers must also be prepared to conduct causality evacuation (CASEVAC) in confined spaces. Examples of potential solutions may include, but are not limited to, portable breathing devices, smoke hoods, hand held air quality sensors, and CASEVAC support enablers.
TA: Visibility - Soldiers require the ability to operate in a SbT OE where there may be no direct, indirect, or ambient light. Examples of technologies may include, but are not limited to, portable lighting sources capable of penetrating into a long tunnel or passage, light sources capable of penetrating obscurants, thermal imaging devices, throwable devices that create ambient and/or infra-red light that can be amplified by currently fielded night vision devices, or other devices capable of enhancing vision in a low/no light SbT environments.
TA: Situational Awareness - Soldiers require the ability to operate in a SbT OE knowing the locations of entrance and exit routes as well as knowing the locations of other friendly force units and enemy forces. Examples of potential solutions may include, but are not limited to, passive and active tagging systems, directional indicators, and blue-force/red-force tracking sensors.

3. Instructions to Potential Respondents
This is NOT a Request for Proposal. Interested vendors who desire to participate in this market survey and demonstration event are encouraged to submit white papers that demonstrate they presently have the technology and qualifications to satisfy the capability requirement of one or more of the TA's described above. White papers should be prepared in Microsoft Word format using standard margins and font size not less than 11. An example white paper format is attached. White papers for each technology should be no more than 5 pages in length and should address at a minimum the following topics:
How the technology addresses the capability requirement and would be used in the subterranean environment by general purpose US Army Soldiers?
What limitations does the vendor foresee with the uses of their technology in a subterranean environment?
How easy would it be to understand, deploy, and employ by general purpose US Army Soldiers in a SbT environment?
To what testing specifications has the technology been tested?

White papers should discuss the ability to provide existing technologies (Technology Readiness Levels 7, 8, or 9) to improve soldier performance in a subterranean environment and include a rough order magnitude (ROM) unit cost. White papers should indicate if the proposed equipment has been sold to the US Government and /or any other organization; if it has been tested by a DoD Agency or independent third party; and, should include relevant points of contact for each organization.
White papers should be submitted electronically to Tara Casey via email at
Please only submit information on products that are currently available through procurement or products that are in final stages of development and are available for vendor demonstration and Government test and evaluation.
Interested parties shall be responsible for any costs associated with preparing responses to this market research and demonstrating their technologies.
Vendors that submit white papers that demonstrate viable capabilities to enable or enhance Soldiers' subterranean operations may be invited to participate in one or more events to demonstrate their technologies in the subterranean environment. The Government anticipates conducting technology demonstration events as scheduled below, but is subject to change:
Early-February 2014 focused on TA Communications, TA Reconnaissance, TA Visibility, and TA Situation Awareness
Early-April 2014 focused on TA Mobility and TA Life Support
Early-June 2014 focused on TA Breaching, and TA Protection
Specific information regarding the locations and dates of the events will be based on the number of white papers received and equipment selected for demonstration.
RESPONSES TO TA's IN COMMUNICATION, RECONNAISSANCE, VISIBILITY, AND SITUATION AWARENESS ARE DUE NO LATER THAN 30 DECEMBER 2013 at 4:00 PM EST in order to support the early February 2014 vendor demonstration event.
Note that the Government's schedule is subject to change: This RFI will remain open until 31 MAY 2014. Responses are requested as soon as possible, but at least one-month prior to the other schedule vendor demonstrations events in April and June 2014 to support the Government's market evaluation and vendor demonstration processes.
All requests for further information must be made in writing or via email. Telephone requests for additional information will not be honored. The Government will review RFI submissions as they are received. The Government reserves the right to close this Sources RFI once it has received adequate responses.
For contracting questions, please contact the Contract Specialist, Tara Casey,

Attachment: Whitepaper Response Template

Technology Area: __________________________

1.0 Introduction
2.0 System Description
3.0 Technical Maturity (based on descriptions in pages 2-13 through 2-14)
4.0 Application to Subterranean Operational Environment (SbT OE)
4.1 Description of System use in the SbT OE
4.2 Limitations of the System in the SbT OE
4.3 Anticipated ease of understanding, deployment and employment in a SbT OE
4.4 Testing and Environmental Specifications through which the System has gone
5.0 Procurement Details
5.1 Process and delivery time for system from vendor receipt of purchase order
5.2 What existing Government Contracts exist to procure the System
5.3 Item Unit Cost
6.0 Summary
ACC-APG - Aberdeen Division D, ATTN: AMSSB-ACC-A, 4118 Susquehanna Avenue, Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD 21005-3013
ACC-APG - Aberdeen Division D 4310 Botthbys Hill Ave Aberdeen Proving Ground MD
Tara Casey, 410-278-0863

ACC-APG - Aberdeen Division D