TECHNOLOGY: Marines Test Wearable Solar-powered, Water Purifying Gear

October 30, 2013 at 11:52 pm 1 comment

Heavy Water and Power

Marines carry heavy, energy hungry gear while patrolling in austere places like Afghanistan, where water can also be scarce. (Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. James Mast)

Marines carry heavy, energy-hungry gear while patrolling in austere places like Afghanistan, where water can also be scarce. (Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. James Mast)

In the last 10 years of war, the U.S. Marine Corps has had to go to a lot of places without water taps or electrical outlets – in fact the nearest tap or plug-in was miles and miles away.

But troops in the field always need water and today’s warriors carry a lot of gear that needs batteries — which in turn need recharging – including radios, global positioning systems (GPS) and night vision goggles.

A unit of the 5th Marine Regiment just completed field testing of a wearable, solar-powered vest that extends the battery life of electronic devices.

But wait, there’s more. It also includes an individual water purifier.

MAPS vest (U.S. Navy photo by Elliott Fabrizio)

MAPS vest
(U.S. Navy photo by Elliott Fabrizio)

Sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR), and assembled at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division, the double-duty vest is called the Marine Austere Patroling System, or MAPS. The idea is to lighten the load of Marines on patrol far from resupply points.

“MAPS provides two benefits,” says Capt. Frank Furman, logistics program manager for ONR’s Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare and Combating Terrorism Department. “First, we can lessen the risk of batteries running out completely. Second, the weight of spare batteries and extra water is eliminated.” And that, says Furman “affects our endurance and ability to move and stay alert.”

The vest includes a small, wearable solar panel developed by the Naval Research Lab.

On a 96-hour patrol, MAPS has the potential to cut the weight of batteries and water carried by a Marine from more than 60 pounds to 13 pounds. Leathernecks from the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, tested the new gear at the Marines’ Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, California.

An earlier successful test was conducted by the 3rd Battalion of the 1st Marines at Camp Pendleton, California in July.

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Entry filed under: Afghanistan, Counter Terrorism, National Security and Defense, Naval Warfare, News Developments, Skills and Training, Technology, Weaponry and Equipment. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

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