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SOFIC 2018: Global SOF Programmes Update

SOF community continues to set standard for conventional & unconventional forces

The Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service’s (CTS) ISOF brigades, following a lengthy campaign focused on more traditional light infantry skillsets designed to eradicate self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) from the northern parts of the country, have triggered a study period to consider a series of equipment upgrades.

According to officials in the US-led Special Operations Joint Task Force – Operation “Inherent Resolve,” addressing a news conference on 18 January, ISOF components have initiated a, “very deliberate plan [in 2018] to get themselves refit and refurbished and ready for any emerging threats.”

This includes the consideration of programmes to further enhance counter-terrorism (CT) capabilities beyond the more traditional COIN concepts of operation (CONOPS) that have been relied on to clear IS elements from Mosul and elsewhere.

For full article, please see MT #5/2018 available at SOFIC 2018, or order here.


Similarly, US Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) is also considering evolutionary change in its current and future operating environments within the confines of the Thunderstorm Technology Demonstration and Evaluation Programme. 

Published on 22 November 2017, Thunderstorm is being coordinated by the Rapid Reaction Technology Office with a remit to run a series of demonstration and experimentation events featuring Technology Readiness Level 4-9 solutions capable of supporting small unit special operations.
Describing a shifting operating environment, Thunderstorm’s solicitation, published on the Federal Business Opportunities website, explained: “The notional scenario is a small team is deployed for an operation in a potentially hostile region. The team is lightly equipped and required to be highly mobile to support the mission requirements. The operational area may have a variety of physical and electromagnetic environmental constraints.”


USSOCOM continues to build up its mobility capabilities with a variety of procurements covering light, medium and heavy special operations vehicles (SOVs). Key progrmames include a 2013 $562 million contract with General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems (GDOTS) for the initial supply of more than 500 GMV 1.1 SOVs, including options to deliver a total of up to 1,300 vehicles in the future. A company spokesperson confirmed the programme was currently in its third year of full rate production, with a total of approximately 260 SOVs already delivered and, “deployed operationally worldwide,” adding, “we expect to deliver around 990 vehicles to USSOCOM by 2023.”

However, …For full article, please see MT #5/2018 available at SOFIC 2018, or order here.

Airborne Options

Rotary wing platforms remain critical to the operational reach of international SOF components, with a number of nations around the world implementing programmes to upgrade current capabilities to next-generation solutions. 

In his presentation to the French government regarding procurement initiatives between 2019 and 2025, R.Adm. Isnard demanded the further modification of NH90 helicopters to ‘fourth generation’ standards in order to replace CARACAL helicopters currently used to support French SOF units. 

Maritime Options

Mobility also remains a critical requirement for SOF in the maritime environment, with multiple force components around the world currently pursuing procurement programmes aimed at enhancing underwater warfare capabilities.


Small arms lethality and modularity also remains a key requirement for the global SOF community, with multiple commands across Europe positioning themselves over the course of 2017 and 2018 to satisfy carbine and precision weapon requirements.

Elsewhere, USSOCOM has confirmed the selection of SIG Sauer’s MCX RATTLER to fulfil its Personal Defense Weapon (PDW) programme requirement, pending successful field trials. Announced on 1 February on the Federal Business Opportunities website, NSW Crane has taken delivery of 10 PDW conversion kits, allowing the in-service 5.56x45mm M4A1 carbine to be upgraded into a short-barreled 300LK weapon. This, the solicitation explained, is achieved through the replacement of upper receiver and stock within, “a few minutes.”


In the area of communications, international SOF organisations continue to build up capabilities as they seek to overcome capability gaps associated with current and future operating environments.

For full article, please see MT #5/2018 available at SOFIC 2018, or order here.

Andrew White


SOFIC is showcasing the future of innovation across the Special Forces community and MONCh (Moench Online News Channel at www.monch.com) brings together key developments from the show. For more information please see MILITARY TECHNOLOGY #05/2018, available at the show; and frequently check back for more NEWS FROM THE FLOOR.


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