Picatinny Engineers ‘Squeeze in’ Solution for Safer Ammunition Stowage

By March 16, 2011August 13th, 2014Acquisition, Science and Technology
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An invention developed at Picatinny Arsenal, NJ, and now being shipped to Afghanistan will make ammunition stowage safer and more effective for Soldiers onboard combat vehicles. The Modular Ammunition Restraint System, or more simply MARS, was created and a prototype developed about a year ago. Since then, more than 700 have been fielded to combat zones.

MARS’ inventors are Picatinny packaging engineers Mike Ivankoe, with 31 years of service at the arsenal, Peggy Wilson, with seven years at the arsenal, and former Picatinny employee LTC Glenn Dean, who has since relocated to Warren, MI.

As members of the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development, and Engineering Center, Ivankoe, Wilson, and Dean responded to an urgent request from Soldiers for a safer way to store ammunition containers on Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles.

For years, Soldiers have been relying on their own makeshift methods (such as straps, bungee cords, or duct tape) to secure ammunition containers inside MRAPs. Virtually every cubic inch within an MRAP is occupied with mission-essential equipment, making ammunition stowage a challenge.

The makeshift methods posed several problems. Once Soldiers cut the straps or removed the bungee cords, it was difficult—and sometimes impossible—to re-secure the ammunition, especially with the rapid pace of a combat mission. In the event of a roadside bomb or an improvised explosive device, loose ammunition containers could trigger a disaster.

MARS is a custom-engineered bag, similar to a camera bag or backpack, that holds standard metal ammunition containers. Inside is a steel L-shaped bracket that supports the weight of a full ammunition box (about 50 pounds) and provides a strong surface for mounting the bag to the system’s custom interface rail. The adjustable hook-and-loop closures and specially designed buckle allow Soldiers to tailor MARS for smaller ammunition containers.

MARS was made possible through partnership with Joint Project Office (JPO) MRAP, which provided funding and production support. The JPO arranged for General Dynamics Land Systems, the original manufacturer of the RG-31 MRAP, to study optimal placement of MARS, including the repositioning of some equipment.

General Dynamics Land Systems also designed the interface rail specific to the RG-31. With these modifications, the team incorporated the MARS interface rail, which holds three MARS, into the current production of RG-31 vehicles.

Further updates include the development of a jumbo-size MARS that can hold larger ammunition containers, including those used to store 40mm grenades. The team is constantly looking for ways to expand, retrofit, and integrate the invention to maximize Soldier benefit.

“MARS is a perfect example of how teamwork, motivation, and a drive to achieve results can bring a much-needed technology to our Soldiers in record-breaking time,” Ivankoe said. The Army estimates that several thousand MARS will be sent to Iraq and Afghanistan within the next year.

  • Article courtesy of the Picatinny Arsenal Public Affairs Office.