To better protect warfighters during live-fire training,
the Office of Naval Research’s (ONR) TechSolutions program
has sponsored the development of a new Google Maps-style
software tool to map out training areas in great detail.
August 10, 2017 - Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jeff Wright
uses the Office of Naval Research TechSolutions-sponsored KILSWITCH
Surface Danger Zone tool to plan live-fire training for next year’s
Cobra Gold military exercise at Ban Chan Khrem Royal Thai Naval Base
in Thailand. (U.S. Navy photo by Moraima Johnston, Office of Naval
This “geospatial-awareness” tool is designed to plug
into the U.S. Marine Corps’ KILSWITCH—the Kinetic Integrated
Lightweight Software Individual Tactical Combat Handheld for
Android. Usable on Android tablets or smartphones, the
KILSWITCH application gives Marines real-time situational
awareness via graphic displays similar to Google Maps, but
without having to be connected to a server.
KILSWITCH’s existing mapping capability will be enhanced by
the TechSolutions-sponsored software plug-in tool—called
KILSWITCH SDZ. The tool can map the surface danger zone
(SDZ) of any live-fire exercise. The SDZ is the designated
ground, sea or air space where munitions like bullets or
mortar rounds might ricochet, bounce, skip or splash before
or after hitting their intended targets.
KILSWITCH SDZ plug-in creates a two-dimensional rendering of
a surface danger zone by overlaying the anticipated exercise
area with current satellite imagery of the surrounding
landscape. This enables planners to know the locations of
weapons and other dangers, and keep warfighters out of the
line of fire.
“Because the KILSWITCH SDZ tool is
handheld and portable, warfighters can plan live-fire
training while in the field versus from inside of a command
center,” said ONR Command Master Chief Matt Matteson.
“They’re able to walk the ground and see graphic
representations of weaponry, which improves planning
efficiency—especially when plans change suddenly.”
Marines can use the KILSWITCH SDZ plug-in to not only create
and save surface danger zone maps, but also share them with
other linked-in participants—building a real-time database
of warfighter movement and weaponry placement.
“KILSWITCH SDZ is valuable during actual live-fire
exercises, but it also can be implemented during the early
planning stages beforehand,” said Rick Sams, who manages the
project for the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology
Division at Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head (NSWC
“The KILSWITCH SDZ system allows
the user a much more efficient means to develop training and
certify surface danger zones, saving time and resources,” he
KILSWITCH SDZ originated in 2015 when a
Marine Corps infantry officer contacted TechSolutions—ONR’s
rapid-response science and technology program that develops
prototype technologies to address problems voiced by Sailors
and Marines, usually within 12-18 months.
TechSolutions then partnered with the Naval Air Warfare
Center Weapons Division, Digital Precision Strike Suite, to
develop the tool, and with NSWC IHEODTD, to conduct training
and engage operational forces.
Rick Sams hopes to see the tool
distributed widely throughout the Navy and Marine Corps in
By U.S. Navy Warren Duffie, Office of Naval Research, Corporate Strategic Communications
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