Procurement officials are working to make the Corps' Shoulder-launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon lighter and more lethal, but safer for Marines.
Current versions of the SMAW rely on an archaic targeting system. Marines must fire a series of 9mm tracer rounds to walk the weapon onto target.
Zeroing in usually takes two or more shots before a Marine can fire the main rocket.
Not only does that make neutralizing a threat slow, but it means the gunner operating the SMAW spends more time exposed to enemy fire.
"The current employment method is time consuming and adds unnecessary exposure time and ranging/targeting errors," reads a notice to industry posted Oct. 15 to FedBizOpps.gov.
"Due to the large inventory of existing SMAW rockets, the USMC does not seek an alternative Infantry Assault Weapon System to replace SMAW," the notice states. "Instead, the USMC intends to modify the SMAW launcher's existing alternate targeting and ranging system components (in lieu of the spotting rifle and day optic)."
The new targeting system will use an integrated thermal weapon sight and laser range finder to make "the launcher lighter, more accurate, quicker to employ, and easier to maintain."
Ultimately, the new targeting system must mount to the SMAW using standard Picatinny rails and compute a firing solution based on range, ambient temperature and the type of rocket being fired.
The SMAW can currently fire a high explosive, dual-purpose rocket for use against bunkers, buildings and lightly armored vehicles; a high explosive anti-armor round for use against tanks; and a novel explosive rocket for use against caves and bunkers.
In an effort to refine the service's final request for proposal, set to be released in November, Marine Corps Systems Command held an industry day Sept. 16-17 at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia.
Following the request for proposal, a contract will be awarded by the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, 2015. Ultimately, a fielding decision will be made within about three years — during the first quarter of 2017.
The SMAW program has already seen other efforts to upgrade the system including the development of a round that can be fired from enclosed spaces.
A Marine could, for example, fire the rocket through a window from within an enclosed building. The immense back-blast from first-generation SMAWs would severely injure or even potentially kill an operator firing it from within an enclosed space.
While it remains to be seen who will ultimately submit proposals to produce the next-generation SMAW targeting system, attendees at the mid-September industry day included Defense industry giants like FLIR Systems, Inc.; Raytheon Systems; and L-3 Communications, among many more.