Objective Gunner Protection Kit (OGPK)

The Objective Gunners Protective Kit (OGPK) provides the capability for the gunner to view the battlefield without compromising safety. The OGPK is an integrated armor and ballistic glass turret that is mounted onto the turret ring of an up-armored HMMWV as well as other tactical and armored vehicles including MRAP. The kit consists of a turret shield, gun shield and hardware for mounting the system to the vehicle.

Handoff ceremony as the National Training Center receives an M1151A1 Up Armored HMMWV with FK5 and Objective Gunner Protection Kit (OGPK), 16 January 2008
Handoff ceremony as the National Training Center receives an M1151A1 Up-Armored HMMWV with FK5 and Objective Gunner Protection Kit (OGPK), 16 January 2008.

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Background of the Objective Gunner Protection Kit (OGPK)

Objective Gunner Protection Kit (OGPK) installed on a HMMWV in Afghanistan, 2010
Objective Gunner Protection Kit (OGPK) installed on a HMMWV in Afghanistan, 2010.

In 2005, field reports from Turret Gunners operating in up-armored Humvees in Iraq and Afghanistan called for significant force protection improvements against Improvised Explosive Devices and enemy small arms fire. Soldiers needed something to give them 360-degree protection yet still provide full visibility of their surroundings.

Classified as an urgent need, U.S. Army Armament Research Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) at Picatinny Arsenal, NJ was assigned as the lead agency for the Objective Gunner Protection Kit (OGPK). Leveraging its expertise in lethal systems, including crew served weapons and target designation systems, ARDEC was able to ensure the full performance capability of the Humvee Turret Gunner, while also enhancing survivability and confidence for battlefield mission effectiveness. Picatinny's variety of unique facilities house the people and the equipment necessary for the rapid prototyping of just about any piece of armament technology. Examples of modern production equipment include laser cutting, robotic welding, automated forming and finishing operations,

ARDEC and its team of government partners fielded a finished product in just six months - a timeline nearly unheard of in the Army's world of research, development and acquisition. Based on its outstanding performance, the Objective Gunner Protection Kit (OGPK) was named one of the Army’s top 10 Greatest Inventions for 2007, the year it was fielded. Additional innovation followed, enhancing OGPK with an Overhead Cover and an Objective Weapon Elevation Kit, two inventions named Army Greatest Inventions of 2008 and 2009 (see below).

By January 2011, more than 45,000 OGPKs were fielded.

Development of the Objective Gunner Protection Kit (OGPK)

As soon as the Operational Needs Statement came to ARDEC in 2005, a team immediately began to brainstorm. The challenge was how to balance increased armored protection and weapon maneuverability. The gunner needs rapid and sufficient weapon maneuverability to engage targets effectively, but increased range of motion of the weapon typically leads to reduced protection due to the interference between the weapon and the armor panels.

The ARDEC team relied on the experience of warfighters who had recently returned from Iraq. By working closely with Soldiers, including performing live missions in Iraq on four prototype systems to obtain feedback, the team quickly came up with an optimal design, a modular system that can quickly incorporate future enhancements.

Objective Gunner Protection Kit (OGPK) provides full wrap-around protection, while still ensuring the gunner's ability to engage targets effectively. An innovative asymmetric armor design kit was used with strategically-placed modular armor panels, including transparent areas to give the Soldier more visibility. The OGPK system incorporates the Battery Powered Motorized Traversing Unit (BPMTU), developed by the Tank and Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC), which ensures full 360-degree rotation of the turret with the use of an electronic joystick.

Objective Gunner Protection Kit (OGPK) Overhead Cover

Objective Gunner Protection Kit (OGPK) with Overhead Cover
Objective Gunner Protection Kit (OGPK) with Overhead Cover.

In March 2007, Picatinny received a request to enhance the OGPK with a turret gunners' low signature top cover. ARDEC regrouped the OGPK team and Soldiers recently returned from theatre to develop an Army-wide solution for this urgent requirement. The process required a complex systems integration effort, considering key features of the vehicle platform, including the turret ring and roof structure, to ensure the system wasn't overloaded due to the added weight.

ARDEC worked with the Program Manager for Light Tactical Vehicles (PM-LTV) and Soldiers from Company B, 173rd Airborne Brigade Support Battalion to optimize the overhead cover for mission effectiveness and maximum survivability.

In 2008, more than 30 Overhead Cover systems for the OGPK were fielded for Tactical Vehicles, including M1151 Up-Armored Humvee in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. In 2009, more than 5,000 Overhead Cover systems were fielded for Humvees. The Overhead Cover was named an Army Greatest Invention of 2008.

Objective Gunner Protection Kit (OGPK) Weapon Elevation Kit

Objective Gunner Protection Kit (OGPK) with Weapon Elevation Kit
Objective Gunner Protection Kit (OGPK) with Weapon Elevation Kit.

In January 2008, ARDEC and PM-MRAP received a request from the 401st Army Field Support Brigade in Afghanistan for a way to safely super-elevate the M2 .50 cal. machine gun up to 80 degrees, to engage elevated targets while remaining protected inside the OGPK.

Within one month, the ARCEC team prototyped a solution, received a safety release and sent it to theatre for Soldier feedback. After evaluation, Warfighters asked for immediate production and fielding of the Weapon Elevation Kit and ARCED worked with PM-MRAP and the Special Operations Command to produce and field hundreds of the systems.

The design of the elevation kit is integral with the OGPK, so it doesn't require any modifications to the weapon or mounts. The modular design has minimal dynamic components and is robust, effective, and conducive to high-rate manufacture. The weapon elevation kit was named an Army Greatest Invention of 2009. The project team was awarded a plaque at the 27th Army Science Conference in Orlando, 29 Nov 2010.

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