Preparing to fight underground, U.S. Army issues RFI for subterranean technologies

Underground tunnel
Israeli soldier crawls through tunnel built by Palestinians

The U.S. Army believes it must enhance its capabilities to operate underground in order to confront and defeat military enemies and irregular threats who more and more frequently are operating from subterranean hideouts.

“In an effort to defeat United States (US) intelligence and weapons technologies and to gain tactical and operational advantages both Military and irregular threats have begun relocating, and redeploying functions into subterranean operational environments (SbT OE),” explains a “sources sought” document recently released by the Army Contracting Command.

The Army notes that the enemy’s use of tunnels and underground facilities is growing, becoming more sophisticated and increasingly effective. “The Middle East is full of ancient and modern underground systems that can be used as assets for the enemy forces,” the notice adds.

The Army’s request for information (RFI), which was issued on January 23, is seeking material about both commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) and government-off-the-shelf (GOTS) technologies that can be used across several areas of interest. These include reconnaissance (such as the ability to map a subterranean environment without the benefit of GPS); visibility (such as portable lighting sources or “throwable devices” that create ambient or infra-red light); and situational awareness (such as passive and active tagging systems, directional indicators and blue-force/red-force tracking sensors.)

The Army is also interested in protection, communications, breaching and life support technologies that could be useful underground.

The government anticipates conducting demonstration events in several of these technology areas. For instance, in early February, the Army expects to run demonstrations in reconnaissance, visibility, situational awareness and communications. For that reason, it asks that prospective vendors interested in participating in demonstrations in those technology areas to submit their capabilities statements by January 31.

“All proposed technologies should be complete systems capable of being transported by a single soldier and shall not create a more hazardous condition within the SbT environment…,” adds the Army notice.

Further information is available from Tara Casey at 410-278-0863.