General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) was awarded a U.S. Army contract, worth around $162.4 million, to supply robotic vehicles under the Small Multipurpose Equipment Transport (SMET) program.
According to a contract announcement released by Pentagon, GDLS will provide small multipurpose equipment transport systems; support hardware including authorized stockage list kits and prescribed load list kits; and services for refurbishment, user training, field service representative, system technical support, program management support for pre-production meetings, and storage.
The contract is to produce 624 S-METs with the delivery to begin in the second quarter of Fiscal Year 2021.
The work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of Oct. 29, 2024. The U.S. Army Contracting Command (ACC) located in Warren, Michigan is the contracting activity.
“With the S-MET (pronounced “Ess-Met”) program, a phased, quicker acquisition plan allowed the Army to make informed program decisions based on direct Soldier feedback on commercially available technology — fielding equipment faster than typical processes allow”, said an Army statement.
U.S. Army Small Multipurpose Equipment Transport (SMET) program
With the Small Multipurpose Equipment Transport (SMET, S-MET) program, the U.S. Army seeks to procure a small unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) that can follow foot soldiers, can transport their equipment and supplies, and charge batteries for their electronic gear. The program was earlier called Squad Multipurpose Equipment Transport.
The SMET program aims to lighten Soldiers’ loads by providing infantry brigade combat teams (IBCTs) a robotic “mule” capability. By unburdening Soldiers of some of their physical load, the SMET improves their physical and cognitive capabilities.
S-MET’s basic operational capabilities include:
• Unmanned/optionally manned system
• Carries 1,000 lbs., reducing Soldier weight burden by 100-plus pounds each when in support of a rifle squad;
• Operate for 60 miles within 72 hours;
• Have a silent run-capability generating 3 kilowatts of power when stationary and 1 kilowatt while moving.
The vehicle will be also able to recharge batteries of Soldier’s night vision goggles (NVGs), radios, and other electronics by using onboard power.
Future capability will feature modular mission payloads tailoring the SMET to specific mission needs, such as dismounted engineer mobility systems; remote weapon stations; casualty evacuation; and unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and reconnaissance.
The initial candidate platforms participated in the S-MET Phase I Assessment held in September 2017 at Fort Benning, Georgia. The evaluation enabled the Army to learn about each of the candidate platforms’ capabilities and obtain operational feedback based on Soldiers’ interactions with the candidate S-MET systems. Based on the results in November 2017, the Army narrowed to four contractors to evaluate their respective platforms during a 12-month (later reduced to seven-month) S-MET Phase II Technology Demonstration.
These four vehicles are MRZR-X system from Polaris Industries Inc., Applied Research Associates Inc. (ARA) and Neya Systems LLC; the Multi-Utility Tactical Transport (MUTT) from General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS); the Hunter Wolf from HDT Global; and the Grizzly RS2-H1 from Textron Systems/Howe and Howe Technologies.
These vehicles was then again evaluated by the Army during a 12-month (later reduced to seven-month) S-MET Phase II Technology Demonstration.
Phase II called for each of the four selected contractors to produce 20 platforms. Four of the produced S-METs supported safety testing, Commercial-Off-the-Shelf operator manual verification, Instructor and Key Personnel Training, and Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTPs) development.
Upon completion of safety testing, the Product Management Office for Applique and Large Unmanned Systems issued eight of each respective prototype S-METs to IBCTs within the 10th Mountain and the 101st Airborne Divisions in the first quarter of the Fiscal Year 2019 for the seven-month Phase II Technology Demonstration. Results from the Technology Demonstration informed program decisions and further solidified S-MET TTPs.