Expeditionary warfare engineers from the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division, have developed an ammunition backpack for belt-fed machine guns. Innovative businesses can license the invention for the development of new products. This technology is TRL 9, multiple units have been built, fielded, and used in combat.
Operational requirements have driven the need for storing and dispensing split-link belt ammunition from a backpack directly into an automatic weapon. This increases the amount of ammunition immediately available to the gunner, eliminating some or all belt changes. Without such packs, machine gunners typically keep a 50-round belt on the feed tray during a patrol, allowing the gunner to immediately initiate fires when in contact, while an assistant gunner prepares a longer belt.
Current backpack ammunition systems have several undesirable attributes. For example, an ammunition backpack container made out of steel or aluminum, or containing an ammo can, is heavy, weighing more than 16 pounds. And existing packs hold about 500 rounds of NATO 7.62mm ammunition. These backpack systems are also expensive, some costing $4,000 in material alone, and have a long lead time in manufacturing.
The Navy’s alternative ammunition dispensing backpack weighs significantly less, about nine pounds, almost a 50% weight reduction, has the capacity to hold a 650 round-belt of NATO 7.62mm, costs an estimated $300 in material, and is simpler to construct, which greatly reduces lead times. The Navy backpack utilizes an ammunition chute and an internal divider that keeps the belt from twisting to ensure a smooth feed. It is comprised of lightweight, flexible material that, when pinched or crushed, can adjust in ways an ammo can-based pack cannot.
- Reduces or eliminates jams or misfeeds
- High-capacity, high-speed operation
- Extremely light and ergonomic
- Businesses can license US application 20160313104 for development into new products
- Potential for collaboration with Navy inventors
- Additional photos, design information available