Soldiers shape the battlefield with next generation of terrain-shaping munitions

By Marc Krauss, PM CCSAugust 12, 2019

Soldiers shape the battlefield with next generation of terrain-shaping munitions
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. -- Shaping the battlefield, and thus shaping the terrain, has been doctrine for how to execute large-scale ground operations. Obstacles play a vital role in this process, providing friendly forces the freedom of maneuver while limiting the enemy's ability to do the same.

The Product Manager for Terrain Shaping Obstacles (PdM TSO), based at Picatinny Arsenal, completed a Close Terrain Shaping Obstacle (CTSO) on July 24-25 at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, as part of its ongoing mission to develop the revolutionary next generation of terrain-shaping munitions.

The ability to shape terrain is a key enabler for maneuver and needed capabilities across the Army Modernization Priorities of Long Range Precision Fires, Next Generation Combat Vehicles, Future Vertical Lift and Soldier Lethality.

The Picatinny-based PM-TSO, formerly the Product Manager for Gator Landmine Replacement, is part of the Project Manager for Close Combat Systems (PM CCS), which is an element of the Joint Program Executive Office for Armaments and Ammunition (JPEO A&A).

The Soldier Touch Point was completed with the 595th Sapper Company, 5th Engineer Battalion. The event brought together Soldiers, along with government and industry partners to evaluate two, terrain-shaping obstacle prototypes.

CTSO will be developed in accordance with U.S. landmine policy and will begin the modernization of the Army's terrain shaping capabilities. Eventually, newer capabilities will replace the fielded Family of Scatterable Mines (FASCAM) systems, which were developed in the mid-1980s through the late 1990s, and provided obstacle capability for the close-in, mid- and far-ranges.

The 12 Soldiers from 595th Sapper Company were given a CTSO system capabilities overview brief, followed by the opportunity to use CTSO Remote Control Station (RCS) software, manually palletized, transported, and emplaced near net weight, and shape Top Attack munition Dispenser Launcher Module (DLM) inert devices.

The Soldiers were then split into two groups. Each group met with industry representatives to review their proposed CTSO designs and features.

"This was a great event to see what is getting developed and produced for future Engineer Soldiers," said Staff Sgt. Shane Sargent, 595th Sapper Company. "The industry representatives really appreciated our feedback and continually asked questions about what features were liked and disliked."

Candid Soldier feedback was captured throughout the event in the form of impromptu questions and answers, written surveys, and after-action reviews. The Soldier feedback identified many readily adaptable changes that would provide improvements to system performance and reduced Soldier burden.

The future TSOs will feature Top Attack and Bottom Attack munitions with Command and Control features, along with an RCS integrated tablet to activate and deactivate the munition systems on demand.

Lt. Col. Phillip B. Poteet, the Product Manager for Terrain Shaping Obstacles, provided 14 model DLMs from each industry partner to simulate handling, palletization and transportation of the two designs. Transport of the DLMs was accomplished with an M113 and PLS vehicles.

"Direct Soldier involvement is an essential key element to developing the next generation of terrain-shaping obstacles," Poteet said. "Our industry partners had nothing but praise for the Soldiers depth of knowledge and expertise."

The vendors' RCS software, to be used as an obstacle planning and resourcing tool, was of particular interest to the company grade officers from the Engineer Captain's Career Course.

The six officers expressed interest in obtaining the software as a standalone capability now. The ability to conduct a detailed terrain analysis, obstacle planning, and logistical planning would greatly reduce the time it usually takes, plus reduce the current number of systems in the command post.

The information gathered in this event will positively impact the PM CCS fielding of the future CTSO Top Attack Munition within the Army Terrain Shaping Modernization Plan, as well as planned future CTSO increments, Poteet said.