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Cross Paths With the Lightning Pack: Your march will never be the same!

By NSWCDD Corporate Communications | Nov. 17, 2015

FORT BENNING, Ga. - Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) partnered with U.S. Army agencies at Natick Soldier Research and Development Center (NSRDEC) to conduct a 12-mile road march with an electricity generating backpack here, Aug. 31 - Sept. 3.


A six-man U.S. Army Ranger team evaluated the "Lightning Pack" component of the Joint Infantry Company Prototype (JIC-P) system throughout the march.


The program intends to increase the electrical sustainability of dismounted infantry in hard to reach austere environments. Partnering technical leads from NSWCDD and NSRDEC are integrating human worn energy harvesting devices with power management equipment so Marines and Soldiers can operate farther, longer, and lighter with less spare batteries and logistical re-supply.


JIC-P is programmatically managed by Headquarters Marine Corps Expeditionary Energy Office and sponsored by Office of Secretary Defense Operational Energy Plans and Policies.


JIC-P components include high efficiency solar panels, vest worn power managers, a "Bionic Power Knee Harvester," and the Lightning Packs.


"Today's Soldiers and Marines often carry up to 150 lbs. of gear into multi-day combat missions. Up to 30 lbs. of that can be associated with spare batteries," NSWCDD engineer, Eric South said. "JIC-P intends to evaluate the integration of "on the move" energy harvesting and power management to help get some of that weight off their back and increase the austere warfighter's sustainability."


Noel Soto of NSRDEC collected the empirical data and qualitative feedback of the Lightning Packs during the Fort Benning 12-mile road march. The data will be used to improve functional and ergonomic human factors aspects of the pack and other JIC-P components.


"This is a good example of when the technical work we are doing in support of the Army may have potential applications for the Marine Corps and Special Operations community," said Mr. Donald McCormack, Executive Director, Naval Surface and Undersea Warfare Centers.


The 12-mile road march was the first of many user evaluations to be scheduled throughout fiscal years 2016 and 2017. "We want Soldiers and Marines to have a chance to try this gear out and give us feedback while it's still in development," said South. "We really try and incorporate what they have to say in the design. Ultimately, we're working for them."