Advanced Accuracy Solutions Reaper weapon support system

Found this Video of the ADF testing the Advanced Accuracy Solutions Reaper weapon support system.

to me, it looks ok on a flat range or in open flat desert, but a nightmare in urban, jungle or really any sort of closed terrain. Major snag hazard, plus a big ol "Im an MG gunner, please shoot me" flag. 

http://youtu.be/R1FspYLGokM

 

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Original Post

Thanks for posting it here 49'er.

I have some more serious analysis to add, because yesterday when I posted the vid into the Fail thread I was a bit busy (being Mothers Day here) and absolutely flabbergasted at such an abortion. 

 

Consider this a place holder for more serious analysis later tonight.

=======================
Forward!
Where we are, where we belong, where we should be.

  

Location: Back in Bris-Vegas, wondering at the bright lights of the big smoke

As a LEO and former SWAT guy, I see the negatives of this system outweighing any positives.  I've worked in enough homes, buildings, and New England woods to see that the large support arm would be a major hazard.  I see it getting caught on everything, impeding movement, and being an all around pain in the ass to use.   I would guess getting into/out of a helicopter would be difficult and I know for sure that the guy wearing it would get snagged on the door openings of a Bearcat or other armored vehicle.  And I did see the comment about it being a visual indicator to the opposition on the battlefield - maybe not a big worry in my line of work but I imagine the military gunner would be worried about this happening. 

I feel I've seen this somewhere before...

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=oYcsSDWFmdA

_______________________

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"You are here to put in work...If you know AR 670-1 better than FM 7-8, get the fuck out of my face." ~MickFury

The "Predator" ammo pack on the back, with a Y-attachment single point sling on the front attached to your armor would make a lot more sense. With our fucked up way of doing things in the AF we had some definite shortcomings in being able to fight with an MG, those two would have made us more mobile.

 

This thing is just a "getting knocked on your ass" moment waiting to happen. I can not see any way this guy would fit in a Humvee or an MRAP, much less a bird.

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So low speed, i'm in Park.

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Training is brief. Death is forever. PAY ATTENTION.

Joined: 6/14/03 1:02 PM

That thing is definitely the answer. 

I'm just not sure what the question is. 

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"One of the nice things about being around other soldiers is they will suffer your bullshit gladly, knowing sooner or later you will shut up and listen to theirs." - Jim Morris, War Story

 

"The military was strange like that. In the middle of the night you run into a major problem that requires you to put your faith in someone you never met before and probably would never see again. But that person knocks himself out to do his job and helps you get on with yours." - Harold W. Coyle, Team Yankee

Cosplay Colonial Marine (from Aliens)  based on steadicam-type rig (I believe...MrMurphy would know more about this).



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMfcEvrTSS8

Another one here...showing how it was built (different from above):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5X0L9iNmbc

Gotta say...my inner nerd wants one. Hell, my outer nerd too!  (but not the "Reaper" system seen above...that thing is hideous, snaggy and looks like something cobbled together from IKEA parts).


 

Joined: 03 OCT 2006        Meatspace Coordinates: The Smoke

Yeah, it's an early Steadicam minus the camera arm and sled (the bottom weighted part that keeps it smooth). Add an Mg3.... you're in Sci fi business. 

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So low speed, i'm in Park.

"I could stand to hear a little more.." Jayne

Training is brief. Death is forever. PAY ATTENTION.

Joined: 6/14/03 1:02 PM

I saw this posted on a local forum earlier. And surprisingly they had the same reactions (this is a forum that loves milsurps and S&W revolvers, and those new fangeled auto loading pistols plateaued in 1911 btw)   One poster even stated seems cool in urban or desert but has the designer ever been through a Deep South swamp thicket? I find it kind of weird that this is coming from the Aussies (22F no offense, first drinks are on me), but shit those dudes have fought most of their wars in the past 80 years in jungle environments.  That thing would be worse than carrying a decoy bag, bling bag and shotgun to a blind, to kill a less angry enemy any day of the week. 

Good in theory (I think), but bad in the real world.

JW104 posted:

That thing is definitely the answer. 

I'm just not sure what the question is. 

Uh, how to hang mistletoe over my own head at the office party?

"Absorb what is useful.  Discard what is useless.  Add what is specifically your own." -Bruce Lee

 

 The Aliens rig would be better.

 

 I was with an M60 crew since I was a Pvt in the 82d. I went from AG, gunner & weapons squad leader before I made E5.

 I carried, or supervised men carrying MGs from the jungles of Panama , to the mountains of Italy...including the outback.

I've also carried various FN MGs with DOE.

I can tell you, that fucking Tonka crane thing is a fucking disaster, and must be the fantasy of someone who has never humped a pig.

 

And to the poster that mentioned it...the back pack ammo thing is BS too.

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 "they say if it works, it's a good tactic...I say anything can work once" 

Chameleox posted:
JW104 posted:

That thing is definitely the answer. 

I'm just not sure what the question is. 

Uh, how to hang mistletoe over my own head at the office party?

You can take a common coat hanger, bend it  and hang mistletoe over your pant's zipper.  Hey, I Was in a fraternity.  Sue me.

 

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Stupidity is not a skillset.

 

 

 

 

 Joined: 28 Nov 2004: 0037hrs        Location: The worst run state in the U.S

I'm pretty sure the guys involved in this abortion are going to guage the reaction from people, and then just to save face, they're going to say, "Bazinga!".

This kind of reminds me of the Daleks. "Exterminate, exterminate...oh, stairs." It'll be something like that. "Get the gunner up here...oh, wait, doorway, never mind."

Good luck going prone with it.

Regards.

Mark

Formerly known as ML

Gents,

I have been a long time member here and simply choose to not post much.  There are several folks on here who can vet my authenticity.

Before coming to such judgement, we owe it to ourselves to forever be a student and keep an open mind to help us progress warfighting and our survivability.  When I was first shown the initial prototype of the Reaper (by the owners, who are now friends) I was critical as well.  Constructively, but critical nonetheless.  Once I put it on and shot with it, and started testing it I immediately saw the use.  Everyone that we have shown it to has been critical and has also, like me immediately changed their mind once they put the rig on.

As I said, I know the gentlemen who adapted the original EZ rig (for cameras) and developed the Reaper.  They were both Snipers and had an idea.  The Reaper was originally designed to support shooting/sniping from a rotary winged platform, and I can tell you, having used it myself it is second to none in that arena.  Some of the pictures, due to angles make it look ungainly, and I am the first one to admit that it looks a bit strange, but when fitted properly it only sticks up over your head or helmet by about 2-3 inches.  It also completely collapses and folds away for when it is not necessary. 

The owners, which now consist of the 2 original Aussie CT snipers and a former 10th Group sniper are the first to come out and state that this is not a piece of equipment for everything.  For aerial platform shooting and urban sniping it makes a massive difference.  We have used it in every thing from an R44 up to a Blackhawk and it allows you more movement and freedom in the bird than sniper straps or bars.  It also removes a lot of the vibration you get in a helo as your body acts as a damper and much of it is not translated through the Reaper.

It is currently being sourced and tested through several other organizations (US included) and it has been in the hands of several Tier 1 folk who have immediately said after using it, that they thought it looked stupid but immediately see the application of it in the niche job sets that it was designed for.

The latest development in it, as you saw from the Australian trial is; will it work for deployment of machine guns?  Lots of comments along the lines of, "If you can't hold a machine gun then you shouldn't get one"  It's not about can or can't hold it, it's about, do you want to be more efficient with it?  Do you want to be more accurate with it?  My answers are yes.  I carried a Mk46 & 48 for quite a while.  Yes, I can shoot them without the support, but I can tell you having been involved in the T&E of the current Reaper model that I can hold it longer (covering an area or holding a corner) and I can acquire targets quicker and with better accuracy using it.

It's not the end all be all.  If you are an assaulter then the owners are the first ones to say you shouldn't be using one.  In thick brush/jungle, keep it folded away until you get to your objective.  As one of the snipers who is testing it already said, paraphrasing, 'if I had this years ago it would've given me much more versatility in urban hides.  I'll keep it folded up, but when I need it, it's there for me.'

While speaking to a group of guys who weren't necessarily sold on it, I compared it to night vision.  Do NVGs work? Yes.  Would you rather have them on an op than not?  Yes.  Do you run around during the daylight with them lowered and on or sometimes even attached at all?  No, that's silly, they don't work in the day light.

Does anyone question that some of these 'Ironman"  suit DARPA projects and shit will ever come to fruition?  I think we can all agree that it will be a while, but it is most likely the future of modern warfare in some form or another, for some mission sets.  The same applies to the Reaper. 

One of the reasons I originally joined this forum was because for the most part it was filled with SMEs and true professionals who had an open mind and vision.  I think that is still the case here as opposed to a lot of other forums.  It is hard to go against the masses when everyone is jumping on the band wagon disregarding something they have never put their hands on. 

I'll leave you with this.  It was retrofitted and designed by shooters, SMEs in sniping.  It has been used operationally from helos and in the jungle of the Philippines and Salomon Islands ( in it's early, rudimentary form).  The product has been made better since then.  I call the owners friends and they are of the same ilk as many of us on here.  They still strive to find new and better ways to give our warriors enhanced capabilities and increase their effectiveness, thus increasing their survivability.  They're not POGs, or nerdy science types, they are warriors and some of the finest I have ever had the honor to work with.

If you read this in it's entirety, thank you for your time. 

Stay Deadly,

Lapdance

Location: Southern Louisiana, temporarily living in UAE

Lapdance

Thank you for the updated background info.  I did comment above due to the video images - yes it does look ungainly. And it appears to be several inches taller than the helmet.  If it is lower than it appears then that obviously would be better.  

My experience is domestic LEO patrol and SWAT.   That is my frame of reference and influences my opinions.  My major worry about the system would be added weight and bulk.   I always stressed to my guys to be realistic in their load out so they are more mobile, have better longevity in the field, and have less bulk on their body.  I hated seeing guys loaded down with more and more shit unless absolutely necessary.  So when I saw this I immediately thought "this is bad, more weight and bulk, snag hazard in vehicle doors, etc".    The helicopter sniper role makes sense and I can see the potential utility for that purpose.  That never crossed my mind as we do not have helos available to us in my job.  

All that being said, I'd be interested to see how this one works out in the field after in depth testing.  Don't think it would be good for minimally trained guys as deploying it and then folding it up would probably take some practice to make it fluid.  If they can make it as small and light weight as possible then that would be a plus for a sniper I think.  I did an initial sniper class and used some tripods so if this could replace those that may be good.  

Last words - glad those guys are thinking of new gear concepts and trying out their designs.  If no one did that then we would be using half century or older gear and not be as mobile or effective as our military is.   

JRB,

Thanks for the reply.  I agree with everything you said.   Like with any new piece of kit there is a learning curve.  Most guys we've put it in the hands of, within a couple hours figured out what worked best for them and were using it quite fluidly.  I don't have any stake in the company, but I have been helping them T&E it as well as develop specific training for the system.

It only weighs 1.85 kilos, so in American that's 4Lbs.  When it's folded away it is very flat and low profile.  I too came from Law Enforcement, and I'm sure you can feel me when I say that even an M4 gets heavy holding on a certain door or window for several hours during a call out!

As of late, we've been experimenting running a shield with it.  It allows the shield man to now employ heavier, rifle rated shields and still remain quite nimble.  The system comes with a quick release cut away, should the user need to detach rapidly.

Again, thanks for the reply and open mind brother.  You're right, we all have a duty to those that aren't here any more to push the boundaries and progress.  Some ideas will fail and some will save lives.  I'm not the end all be all by any stretch, but I have some experience in certain matters and I believe in the system.

Stay deadly brother,

Lapdance

Location: Southern Louisiana, temporarily living in UAE

MrMurphy posted:

Yeah, it's an early Steadicam minus the camera arm and sled (the bottom weighted part that keeps it smooth). Add an Mg3.... you're in Sci fi business. 

That early Steadicam rig is still much newer that the gen 1 I trained on/with back in the long gone days. the other rig also reminds me of the purpose of the old Tyler mounts (one of my favorite toys) 

Location Texas.

 

"So what are you gonna do if we get hit on this trip?" "Me?, I'm going to shoot some good pics of you nuking their ass. You do your job, I'll do mine. If I have to do yours,(unless you're the medic) we're probably all screwed!" - Standard reply , from Desert Storm through Iraqi Freedom

Lapdance,

As you seem to be familiar with this device, perhaps you can answer the question I posed.

How do you go prone while wearing this device? You've marched to your objective, deployed it, and as you move forward, you come under fire. What happens when you go prone?

Also, how do you deploy it? Is it carried on your gear folded or in pieces, and then assembled when needed? One or two person task? Can it be self deployed, or does a buddy have to fit it to you?

Regards.

Mark

Formerly known as ML

Mark,

All very valid questions.  It does not impede you going prone.  Although it is not designed for the prone position, the upper sickle section rotates (spins) so you can traverse the weapon easily when attached.  As soon as you drop to the prone, and place the weapon on a bipod, monopod the magazine, etc, the system is no longer under load and it simply swings to one side of the weapon or the other.  It does not interfere with the optic.  Now, if you were availed good cover/defilade and thought you might be there a while, you would want to quick disconnect from the system and if the situation allows fold it away and stow it.

Which brings me to your next question.  The Reaper consists of two pieces.  They are attached by the zero stretch cable, so they are always together, there is no assembling required.  The lower straight piece which houses the struts (suspension if you will) and the upper 'sickle' section.  Like with anything new, there is a learning curve to build that tactile feel, but within a few practice tries, you can pull the upper section out of the lower and pass it around to the rear bungee retention strap and stow it.  When you need it, you can reach back pull it out, fold it up and the tension of the cable and struts help guide it in once it is aligned.  It is very easily one man deployable and stowable.  If folks are body builders or have trouble shoulders or injuries it may be difficult for them, but a buddy can help them.  To fold it away or re-deploy it literally takes about 1 - 2 seconds.

I hope I answered all your questions for you.  Let me know if you have any others.

Stay Deadly,

Lapdance

Location: Southern Louisiana, temporarily living in UAE

Lapdance posted:

Gents,

I have been a long time member here and simply choose to not post much.  There are several folks on here who can vet my authenticity.

Before coming to such judgement, we owe it to ourselves to forever be a student and keep an open mind to help us progress warfighting and our survivability.  When I was first shown the initial prototype of the Reaper (by the owners, who are now friends) I was critical as well.  Constructively, but critical nonetheless.  Once I put it on and shot with it, and started testing it I immediately saw the use.  Everyone that we have shown it to has been critical and has also, like me immediately changed their mind once they put the rig on.

As I said, I know the gentlemen who adapted the original EZ rig (for cameras) and developed the Reaper.  They were both Snipers and had an idea.  The Reaper was originally designed to support shooting/sniping from a rotary winged platform, and I can tell you, having used it myself it is second to none in that arena.  Some of the pictures, due to angles make it look ungainly, and I am the first one to admit that it looks a bit strange, but when fitted properly it only sticks up over your head or helmet by about 2-3 inches.  It also completely collapses and folds away for when it is not necessary. 

The owners, which now consist of the 2 original Aussie CT snipers and a former 10th Group sniper are the first to come out and state that this is not a piece of equipment for everything.  For aerial platform shooting and urban sniping it makes a massive difference.  We have used it in every thing from an R44 up to a Blackhawk and it allows you more movement and freedom in the bird than sniper straps or bars.  It also removes a lot of the vibration you get in a helo as your body acts as a damper and much of it is not translated through the Reaper.

It is currently being sourced and tested through several other organizations (US included) and it has been in the hands of several Tier 1 folk who have immediately said after using it, that they thought it looked stupid but immediately see the application of it in the niche job sets that it was designed for.

The latest development in it, as you saw from the Australian trial is; will it work for deployment of machine guns?  Lots of comments along the lines of, "If you can't hold a machine gun then you shouldn't get one"  It's not about can or can't hold it, it's about, do you want to be more efficient with it?  Do you want to be more accurate with it?  My answers are yes.  I carried a Mk46 & 48 for quite a while.  Yes, I can shoot them without the support, but I can tell you having been involved in the T&E of the current Reaper model that I can hold it longer (covering an area or holding a corner) and I can acquire targets quicker and with better accuracy using it.

It's not the end all be all.  If you are an assaulter then the owners are the first ones to say you shouldn't be using one.  In thick brush/jungle, keep it folded away until you get to your objective.  As one of the snipers who is testing it already said, paraphrasing, 'if I had this years ago it would've given me much more versatility in urban hides.  I'll keep it folded up, but when I need it, it's there for me.'

While speaking to a group of guys who weren't necessarily sold on it, I compared it to night vision.  Do NVGs work? Yes.  Would you rather have them on an op than not?  Yes.  Do you run around during the daylight with them lowered and on or sometimes even attached at all?  No, that's silly, they don't work in the day light.

Does anyone question that some of these 'Ironman"  suit DARPA projects and shit will ever come to fruition?  I think we can all agree that it will be a while, but it is most likely the future of modern warfare in some form or another, for some mission sets.  The same applies to the Reaper. 

One of the reasons I originally joined this forum was because for the most part it was filled with SMEs and true professionals who had an open mind and vision.  I think that is still the case here as opposed to a lot of other forums.  It is hard to go against the masses when everyone is jumping on the band wagon disregarding something they have never put their hands on. 

I'll leave you with this.  It was retrofitted and designed by shooters, SMEs in sniping.  It has been used operationally from helos and in the jungle of the Philippines and Salomon Islands ( in it's early, rudimentary form).  The product has been made better since then.  I call the owners friends and they are of the same ilk as many of us on here.  They still strive to find new and better ways to give our warriors enhanced capabilities and increase their effectiveness, thus increasing their survivability.  They're not POGs, or nerdy science types, they are warriors and some of the finest I have ever had the honor to work with.

If you read this in it's entirety, thank you for your time. 

Stay Deadly,

Lapdance

 

G'day Lapdance, 

My apologies in advance if this reply is a little dis-jointed, I'm absolutely shattered after a long week. 

 

Thank you so much for providing some context to this. I can definitely appreciate and  understand the concept of the product for something like a sniper weapon system as you've mentioned. 

Well, to put things into context for me, I AM a science geek, who's worked in product development, quality assurance, continuous improvement and change management in a couple of industries (manufacturing and heavy engineering), as well as fervently working on his own design project (hopefully to make my first million bucks). 

 

As a science geek, I can very much appreciate the whole formulation of a concept, putting that concept into a design and develop the design into a useable format.  

I have consulting experience in load bearing equipment, and actually wrote the source material for the latest SCE (Soldier Combat Ensemble) tender was based on that the ADF has only recently completed and awarded. I'm still not sure how my document made it to the rarefied heights of DMO and the procurement organs, but it certainly tickles me pink to hear people from Diggerworks use certain keywords and catchphrases that I wrote in Airlie Beach whilst over-indulging on Long Island Iced Teas....

 

My major concerns as something of a professional in the arena, is the amount of analysis that goes into the product concept, and product development. The "Good Idea Fairy" waving her magic wand across a project as our American allies describe it. 

In mining, for the introduction of new equipment into production areas a certification process must occur to deem the item as "Fit for Purpose".  This means, safe use. It's a pretty broad term, including materials safety (eg. does it burn in extreme heat?), interactions with other current equipment (eg. EMI with control equipment) and interactions with end-users (eg. is it comfortable to wear, doesn't cause injuries) and does it introduce new problems downstream?

The mining industry is one of the most stringent I've seen personally for this, although I'm told that aerospace and pharmaceuticals are up there. Funnily enough, there is a distinct lack of this analysis and certification in load bearing equipment for the ADF. 

 

It's difficult for me to summarise my experience of 20 plus years of professional tertiary education, training and industry experience without sounding like a grumpy old fart when I see the "Good Idea Fairy" flitting about, waving her magic wand. Hence why I see this Reaper as a great concept, but flawed in the execution. Now that you mention it as a sniper accessory, and all the info I've seen of it is using LSW's (F89/M249) then I also see scope creep on this project - another concerning factor. 

 

I'll start my analysis by saying that the concept of a rig to carry a load like that is a sound one, it's only the execution of the concept that I have issues with. 

Primary concern is the interface between the rig and human end-user. Spinal injuries are no joke. I've seen pictures of two of our blokes wearing this rig, it's a rear view. 

The rig is attached by two points at shoulder blade and belt.

Australian soldiers with the Reaper weapon carriage system at Majura training area 1

Now, basic physics suggests that a load suspended from a cantilever increases the amount of force (a moment of force) imparted on the anchor point. This is proven in the real world by the basic packing maxim with backpacks that dense, heavy loads should be packed as close to the body as possible, in line with the shoulder blades. To do otherwise, means increased forces imparted upon he fulcrum - ie. the spine of the wearer. I've also seen this principle applied to people like dog handlers. The large land shark throwing itself at the end of the leash can lead to similar spinal injuries. Funnily enough, I've only recently met three dog handlers from the same unit with similar injuries.

I have serious concerns about the interaction of that rig with the wearer, especially for trips and stumbles. 

I won't even start on what would happen if the end-user should land square on that big square column. 

 

Snagging is another major concern. Although now that you've mentioned that it was originally designed for snipers sitting in helo's, that's a compromise I can see being acceptable. Scope creep into use of LSW's makes this a real hazard. 

 

The weight rating on the load bearing arm is another concern. A rifle will be significantly lighter than a belt-fed LSW, making me wonder how the load arm is sprung, and will it handle being bounced at several G's from running, fire and movement and the usual activities from shooting our fellow man. 

On a related issue, I wonder if the Reaper is properly designed for helo ops and crash certified? 

 

At this stage, I see this product as really unfinished and undeveloped for anything more than the original very narrow usage of helo-borne sniper. 

 

I truly understand the fun and appreciate the thought behind the concept. But as a professional lab coat wearer who has some experience shitting into plastic bags in dug-in OP's, I can see that this project needs a great deal of product development and maybe even a re-assessment in scope of use, if they continue to go down this path of using LSW's in dismounted usage. Which from what I've seen in the latest video, is ongoing with 7RAR at the moment. 

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Forward!
Where we are, where we belong, where we should be.

  

Location: Back in Bris-Vegas, wondering at the bright lights of the big smoke

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22F,

Firstly, congrats on your stuff getting submitted.

All valid concerns and much of which is way over my intellect and probably more suited for the owners and designers to answer.  I'll take a stab at a couple of the items.

Firstly, one of the owners, who has 14 years of operational sniper experience also has his engineering degree and he was the main force into this current design. 

The weapon is supported by an internal dual stabilizer system which is strung by 260 Lbs break strength, non-stretch cable.  The stabilizers come in different weight ratings depending on the weapon system that is used, so it properly and safely supports the appropriate firearm.

A main part of this trial is that the system will be tested and rated by Digger works to ensure safety and suitability.  I'm sure they will bend it, break it, light it on fire, blow it up, and maybe even run around pissed up on Bundy and coke!! (which I was introduced to a couple weeks ago in Canberra).

The upper 'sickle' section does have a break away feature in which if too much force is placed on the upper section,(ie. a 90 Kg male with kit hung up in an air frame) it will sleeve out of the lower section and automatically fold down.  I know it's hard to envision and I'm certainly not articulate enough to properly explain it.

As far as wearing it along the spine, it is designed to go on the outside of your body armor and thus rifle plate.  The stand alone system that you see on the gentleman to the right is also reinforced with a thick plastic insert to make it rigid and keep the system directly off the user.

Again, all valid concerns and I'm sure if you emailed the owner he could speak much more intelligently about the technical aspects of it.

Stay Deadly,

Lapdance

Location: Southern Louisiana, temporarily living in UAE

Outstanding discussion gentlemen. 

Lapdance, thank you for the background and context behind the system. Makes more sense knowing the why behind an idea or product. 

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-We are the sheepdogs, bad people looking out for the good people by killing worse people
-Don't get PTSD, Give PTSD. Make the taliban wake up screaming in the night because he fears Canadians are coming to Kill him.

-Location - Canada - Joined - 2006MAR19

And... the ADF hates it. 

http://www.thedrive.com/the-wa...-it-did-the-opposite

This Crazy Contraption Was Supposed To Help Aussie Troops Carry Their Guns. It Did The Opposite.

The test results were not positive.

 

A little less than three years ago, the Australian Army said it would evaluate an unusual backpack-mounted pole-and-sling combination called the Reaper that could make it easier for machine gunners and snipers to carry their weapons on patrol. Now, The War Zone have obtained trials reports that make it clear the Australians weren’t impressed and found the system to be far more of a burden than a benefit.

In December 2016, the Australian Army officially rejected the Reaper Small Arms Carriage System, or RSACS, and informed the manufacturer, Advanced Accuracy Solutions, of its decision. The Idaho-based company had first demonstrated their piece of kit at an Army Innovation Day showcase in October 2015.

“The Australian Army units involved in the trial of ‘The Reaper’ all indicated that although it may have utility in specific situations, these advantages were outweighed by a number of disadvantages,” an unknown officer wrote in a letter to Advanced Accuracy Solutions. “These disadvantages included compromised camouflage and concealment, integration with night fighting equipment and user safety in airframe and vehicle platforms.”

The War Zone obtained this partially redacted document and other records related to the Reaper trails via Australia’s Freedom of Information (FOI) law.

AUSTRALIAN ARMY VIA FOI

A copy of the Australian Army's December 2016 letter to Advanced Accuracy Solutions.

Reaper consists of a two-piece aluminum pole attached to a frame a shooter wears like a backpack. This assembly extends up over the user’s shoulder. A cord extends from the curved end of the pole and attaches to their gun.

The basic idea is that this arrangement offers additional stability to improve accuracy and reduce the physical strain of carrying a rifle or machine-gun around at the ready for hours on end. “Personnel patrolling for long periods of time can become combat ineffective, or at the very least have a diminished response to a threat,” Advanced Accuracy Solutions’ Jason Semple told me in an Email when I initially reported on the Australian Army’s trial in 2016.

He wasn’t wrong. Soldiers in any major military today are increasingly burdened with all sorts of weapons and equipment, especially if they’re conducting extended dismounted patrols. Machine guns and large sniper and anti-materiel rifles, which can weigh more than 20 pounds on their own, only add to the strain on soldiers assigned to carry those types of weapons.

“It’s a funny-looking contraption,” Australian Army warrant officer Nicolas Crosbie, who took part in the trials, said in an official video. “I’m interested to see … when we trial it with the soldiers, what they think of it and that sort of thing.”

The Australian Army trialed the system in combination with three machine guns, its version of the FN Minimi, known as the F89, the 7.62mm FN Maximi, similar to the U.S. Mk 48, and the FN MAG-58. Snipers also tested it together with their KAC Mk 11Accuracy International SR-98Blaser Tactical, and Accuracy International AW50 rifles. The evaluations also involved using various Reaper and weapon combinations together with the Bushmaster wheeled armored vehicle, the M113AS4 tracked armored vehicle, and the CH-47 Chinook and MRH-90 helicopters.

The response from soldiers was not positive.

“The Reaper trial sought to prove or disprove the hypothesis that the utilization of the Reaper by a Rifleman will provide greater lethality by reducing the effects of muscle fatigue and weapon instability in a mounted and dismounted role,” the final report concluded. “As a result of the evidence collected over the trial period, the hypothesis has been disproven.”

For one, the Reaper did reduce strain on a soldier’s arms when carrying a weapon. But it also increased fatigue from the awkwardness of firing and moving with the system on their back.

“The soldier’s breathing motion was exaggerated by the RSACS,” one report says. “This forced the soldier to tense his entire torso in order to effectively release each burst, thus significantly increasing the soldier’s overall fatigue.”

The change in high-mounted weight distribution also made it harder for troops to run and the pole made it impossible to get into a prone firing position. Advanced Accuracy Solutions has said that the Reaper can work when the shooter is prone, but the Australians vehemently disagreed in their trials. Troops also just found it difficult to put it on at all, usually requiring the aid of a second person.

 
 

These factors also contributed to a lack of any meaningful improvements in shooter accuracy. When troops firing their weapons unsupported while kneeling, they were able to achieve better effects without the Reaper at four of the six tested distances. The Australian Army said that the RSACS performed better during standing unsupported fire drills, but the improvements were still negligible.

Some of these results can certainly be blamed on a lack of experience with the Reaper and further practice using the system may have led to better performance. However, this would have meant the Australian Army might have been looking at increased training requirements had it adopted the system for widespread use.

In addition, ignoring the issues of accuracy and fatigue, the Reaper presented other serious problems. The pole made it difficult for soldiers to stay concealed on the open battlefield, maneuver through more constrained environments, such as buildings, and get in and out of aircraft and vehicles. The Australian Army determined that the system presented such a serious safety risk for personnel in helicopters, especially if they had to ditch over water, that it would preclude any soldier from wearing it during airmobile operations.  

AUSTRALIAN ARMY VIA FOI

A table describing the various issues Australian troops uncovered in their trial of the Reaper.

In an apparent attempt to be charitable, the Australian Army noted that the system could help soldiers stabilize heavy guns while standing in turrets on vehicles such as the Bushmaster wheeled armored vehicle. However, the report pointed out that these vehicles already had fixed mounts in those positions specifically for this purpose. In addition, Australia's Bushmasters feature a remote weapons station that reduces the need for individuals inside to expose themselves to enemy fire at all during a firefight.

Advanced Accuracy Solutions says that the system can be folded away when users are riding in vehicles, something that is not mentioned in the Australian reports. However, this would mean that troops would have had to go through the motions of extending and collapsing the Reaper every time they mounted or dismounted a vehicle, which could have made the process more cumbersome, especially under fire.

AUSTRALIAN DOD

An Australian Bushmaster armored wheeled vehicle with a remote weapons station. A fixed weapon mount is visible at the back where an individual could use it to support their weapon when standing in the right rear hatch.

Not surprisingly, the pole and cord also had a habit of getting caught on both foliage and other objects, as well as the user’s other gear. The system notably interfered with troops using helmets with night vision googles attached to them. It also made it difficult for machine guns with the F89 machine gun to open the top cover to reload or clear jams.

“The live fire trials identified that the Reaper, overall, created a decrease in accuracy and transferred muscle fatigue to the remainder of the torso,” the Australian Army concluded. “The Reaper is not suitable for dismounted operations. The Reaper for utilization in all mounted in all mobility platforms trialed.”

These potential issues had been obvious well before the Reaper trials began. But it’s not necessarily surprising that the Australians were still willing to consider the system.

Large armed forces, including the United States, have expended considerable time and resources to try and reduce the weight of things troops need to carry and mitigate the fatigue they experience lugging their individual loads around. This has included programs to develop everything from lightweight ammunition to powered exoskeletons.

Ammunition-filled backpacks, more commonly associated with action movies such as Predator, have been another option. “Third arm” systems such the Reaper, another Hollywood staple, most notably the M-56 Smart Gun in Aliens– a prop made from a Steadicam video camera stabilization system and an MG-42 machine gun – have offered the potential for a less risky and lower cost interim solution.

ALIENS

The U.S. Army is in the process of testing its own “third arm,” which clearly tries to mitigate many of the problems with the Reaper by placing the support under the shooter’s arm, rather than over the shoulder. It still remains to be seen whether the added bulk of this system offers more benefits than hindrances.

U.S. Special Operations Command recently put their “Iron Man” exoskeleton program, officially known as the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS), on ice, admitting that the initial prototypes had not met expectations. But SOCOM does intend to continue developing certain specific portions of the overall system that do show promise, including “a small arms stabilization system,” according to Task and Purpose.

So, while the Australian experience with the Reaper might have been poor, there’s still a possibility that troops in major militaries around the world might end up some similarly unusual contraption strapped to their backs in the future.

The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first, the love of soft living and the get rich quick theory of life. – Theodore Roosevelt

 

Joined: 19NOV2004   Location: Mission, Kansas

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