Members of the Iowa National Guard deployed in Afghanistan were dealing with a logistics issue. Namely, the belts of ammunition for their Mk 48 machine guns were difficult to carry on foot patrols. Cutting the belts into shorter lengths and reloading frequently took too much time during firefights. Staff Sgt. Vincent Winkowski, with input from Spc. Derick Morgan and Spc. Aaron McNew, built a solution: he removed the bottom of one ammo box, welded it to another ammo box, strapped them to an old ALICE (all-purpose lightweight individual carrying equipment) frame, and mounted a CROW (common remote operating weapons station) at the top to feed the ammo over the shoulder. This pack, nicknamed The Ironman, allowed a gunner to carry and use 500 rounds of his own ammo without assistance, and the whole set-up weighed 43 pounds.
Winkowski submitted the design to Army science advisers, and within 48 days the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC) created a lighter, refined version of the pack ready for mass production. Dave Roy of NSRDEC called the pack a “game-changer”.
And the inspiration for this “game-changing” design? Predator.
Someone mentioned actor Jesse Ventura in the movie “Predator.” His character brandished an M-134 Mini-gun fed by an ammo box on his back. After the Soldiers had a good laugh over that thought, Staff Sgt. Vincent Winkowski asked why a gunner couldn’t carry a combat load of ammo. He decided to pursue the idea. [Army via Gizmodo]
Maybe this is an Iowa thing, that we see something on TV and totally try to build it. I still think my brothers and I could have built a working insect teleporter if it weren’t for those meddling adults.