The US Navy has distributed new ammo backpacks, named ‘Avenger,’ to troops out in the field, though the Navy has refused to comment on the new system’s deployment details.
A spokeswoman for the Naval Supply Systems Command, Lisa Oswald, made it clear that they could not disclose information about troop deployment or movement, so details of where the new system is being used will not be forthcoming.
The new system has been developed by the Crane Division of the Naval Surface Warfare Center. Their expeditionary warfare engineers developed the backpack, which is now being used in the field.
Ammunition backpacks are used to store and dispense split-link belt ammunition from a storage bag, typically carried on soldiers’ backs. The benefits of these backpacks are that the number of rounds available to the gunner is dramatically increased, eliminating some or all of the usual belt changes.
Usually, gunners would have a 50-round belt on the feed tray while their assistants would prepare additional belts. With the new backpack, the gunner has access to 650 rounds rather than the traditional 50.
The new Avenger backpack gives the service personnel an additional 150 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition, over the current 500-round packs that are currently in use. The increase in the number of rounds is not the only benefit of the new system.
It is also much lighter, coming in at just nine pounds, costs $300 instead of the usual $4,000 to produce, but it is also made from a flexible, lightweight material rather than the existing ammunition can type of backpack made of aluminium or steel.
According to TechLink, the technology boffins, the new backpack utilizes an ammunition chute along with internal dividers to keep the belts from twisting and ensuring it feeds smoothly. The new flexible materials allow the pack to adjust to the pinches and crushing common with deployment in the field.
At this time, the Pentagon’s in-house innovation center, the Defense Innovation Accelerator, is working with a team from the Navy to expand and produce the Avenger system.
The Avenger is not the first ammunition backpack to come to light in US military circles in recent times. In 2011, a highly creative staff sergeant from the Iowa National Guard created a backpack fed Mk 48 machine gun system. The system was designed after a firefight on a deployment in Afghanistan.
The system was nicknamed ‘Ironman’ and was inspired by the 1987 action movie Predator. In this film, the character, Sgt. Blain Cooper uses a backpack fed M134 minigun. Viewing this, the staff sergeant decided to build his backpack-based system.
Unfortunately, this system proved extremely expensive to produce, and, after two years of experimentation, they declared that the system was ‘undesirable for broad procurement and deployment.’
The new Navy system is entirely different from the defunct ‘Ironman’ system that the Army worked on, and the Navy engineers claim that they have never heard of the Army system.
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Sadly, the Navy has not drawn inspiration from the movie Predator. While Lisa Oswald, spokesperson for the Navy, said that “the navy thought the comparison was interesting, there are no comparisons between the systems. The Navy’s focus was on meeting mission requirements and supporting the warfighter”.