Members of the 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, discussed a 2.5 hour firefight engagement and how three-man teams manning crew-served weapons struggled to stay together over difficult terrain in fluid battles. Someone mentioned actor Jesse Ventura in the movie “Predator.” His character brandished an M-134 Mini-gun fed by an ammo box on his back. After the Soldiers had a good laugh over that thought, Staff Sgt. Vincent Winkowski asked why a gunner couldn’t carry a combat load (500 rounds) of ammo.
The new system is being refined and modularized so that gunners of all types of machine guns will each be able to carry 500 rounds.
“The ammunition sacks that came with new MK48 made it too cumbersome and heavy to carry over long, dismounted patrols and especially when climbing mountains. Initially, we came up with using 50-round belts and just reloading constantly, which led to lulls of fire and inefficiency.”
So Winkowski grabbed an old ALICE (all-purpose lightweight individual carrying equipment) frame, welded two ammunition cans together–one atop the other after cutting the bottom out of the top can–and strapped the fused cans to the frame. To that he added a MOLLE (modular, lightweight load-carrying equipment) pouch to carry other equipment.
The Mk 48 Mod 0 is a gas-operated, air-cooled, fully automatic, belt-fed machine gun. The Mk 48 Mod 1 is an update of the Mk 48 Mod 0. Like the Mod 0, it is essentially an M249 scaled up to fire the 7.62×51mm NATO round. The Mod 1 utilizes a 19.75″ barrel, weighs in at 18.37 lb unloaded, and has a rate of fire of 500–625 rpm
On Feb. 26, 2011, our prototype ‘Ironman’ pack even saw its first combat use by Spc. McNew when our squad was ambushed by up to 50 fighters in a river valley, and it worked great!”
After attaching pictures of the prototype to a request for information, Winkowski gave it to forward-deployed science advisers from the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command. Forty-eight days after the request was received, and after inspecting and measuring the Soldier’s original, QRC had a prototype of the “High-Capacity Ammunition Carriage System” back in theater.
The folks at NSRDEC substituted a MOLLE medium frame for the ALICE frame. The ammo compartment now uses polycarbonate plastic instead of the original tin. Until NSRDEC can come up with a simpler, more cost-effective substitute, the ammo will continue to move through a 27-inch-long, $1,710 feed chute designed for the CROWS, which the Guardsmen had employed.
“I knew in order for this to work, it needed to be as modular as possible,” Roy said. “It needed to be based off of a current technology. We were able to put everything together very quickly … and were able to prove that with a combat load–that’s 43 pounds with 500 rounds, inclusive of the weight of the kit itself–that still gives the Soldier 17 pounds worth of cargo weight to attach to the frame and still be within the design specifications for the MOLLE medium.”