For the first time since arriving at Dugway Proving Ground (DPG) in February 2018, the Screening Obscuration Module (SOM) is undergoing testing in a mounted configuration atop a Humvee.
“It’s exciting to see it get this far,” said lead test officer Mike Capp. “Up until now, we had only tested the SOM in a dismounted configuration—usually it was sitting on the ground. Now it’s mounted on top of a Humvee, driving along a road course marked with various targets.”
The SOM is a mobile medium-area smoke-generating unit that is designed to increase Soldier protection levels of maneuver and platform survivability by degrading an enemy’s ability to detect U.S. targets.
Testing at Dugway’s West Desert Test Center (WDTC) has helped the SOM move from concept to production, providing valuable feedback to the manufacturer, L3 Harris Technologies, and to the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense (JPEO-CBRND), who will ultimately get the capability into the hands of Warfighters.
“Based on the information gathered during testing at Dugway Proving Ground, we’ve had over 43 design changes to this year’s model,” shared Bruce Love, a test analyst that has been involved with the SOM project since early development. One of the key improvements was significantly decreasing the number of fasteners on the control panel from 23 to five. “That’s a real impact that makes the unit easier to maintain and operate for our Warfighters,” Love acknowledged.
This year, the SOM production model will undergo nearly 1,000 test trials at WDTC. Dismounted testing is nearly complete; mounted testing will continue through April. Testing often starts before sunrise when weather conditions are ideal. The dedication of the WDTC test team is not going unnoticed.
“I wanted to say thank you to all of you because it’s the work you do that makes the difference,” said LTC Alan Stephens, Joint Product Manager for Reconnaissance and Platform Integration, who visited Dugway Proving Ground to get a first-hand look at the SOM and personally applaud those who are involved in the test effort. “Your contributions are significant. Without you, the product can’t get to the Warfighter,” he said.