Picatinny Designs Latest Advancement in Gunner Protection
April 4, 2007
PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. (Army News Release, April 4, 2007) - The Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center at Picatinny has designed a new armor shield that provides much needed protection for Humvee gunners in combat situations.
The Picatinny Objective Gunner Protection Kit was a joint development by Picatinny engineers and Soldiers recently returned from active duty in Iraq. With more than 2,500 of the systems already being used in theater, the O-GPK is currently in mass production at Army depots and field-ready kits are arriving in Iraq and Afghanistan on a weekly basis.
"The O-GPK provides significant force protection and situational awareness for the Humvee gunner," said Mr. Thomas Kiel, lead designer of the O-GPK. "The system includes a combination of steel and transparent armor that are configured to protect our Soldiers against enemy rifle fire and IED blasts."
The O-GPK includes transparent armor windows and rear-view mirrors that allow Soldiers to maintain a protected posture while performing mission objectives with full visibility through the windows. The kit is modular and utilizes the existing features of Humvee design for quick installation onto the overhead turret with no special tools required.
In just six months, the system was transformed from conceptual design models to full-scale production - an effort that would historically take more than a year to complete for a program of this magnitude.
The kit consists of the turret shield, gun shield and everything needed to mount the shield to a Humvee. All the elements are shipped overseas as a kit where they are assembled in theater.
"The O-GPK is a tremendous improvement over previous shields used in theater," said Maj. Antonio Ralph, who led the user evaluation effort for the O-GPK. "Picatinny's extensive background in weapons development allowed for proper integration of the systems that our Soldiers need to fight effectively."
Early in the development cycle, four prototype systems fabricated at Picatinny were evaluated by Soldiers performing live missions in Iraq.
"The feedback from Soldiers in theater was critical in finalizing the design and kicking off production," said Maj. Ralph.
The ARDEC design enables the use of modern production equipment including laser cutting, robotic welding, automated forming and finishing operations, which results in virtually unprecedented production rates, said Kiel. ARDEC has fully documented the design and processing methods for each component to maximize production rates and minimize manufacturing and logistics costs.
"Advances in manufacturing science research at Picatinny have allowed us to develop affordable and efficient production processes for armor components," Mr. Kiel said. "Now that the O-GPK design is complete, the goal is simple - to produce large numbers of kits very quickly and send these to our Soldiers as soon as possible."
Rock Island Arsenal, located in Illinois, leads the production effort and will produce 7,500 kits by this July and 20,000 by 2008.
"The O-GPK has already saved lives in Iraq," Mr. Kiel said. "The engineers and scientists at Picatinny are very proud to be supporting the men and women that ensure our freedom at home."
Other recent developments by the Picatinny Force Protection Team include a new customized Special Forces Gunner Protection Kit for Humvees and the Picatinny Blast Shield, which is now being used by the Marine Corps on their Light Armored Vehicles.