Marines Want New Skis, Not New Ski Boots

Marines and sailors with Marine Rotational Force-Europe 18.1 ski toward their next objective during a winter warfare training exercise at Haltdalen Training Center, Norway, on April 12, 2018. The Marine Corps is searching for a new ski system with universal bindings. Gunnery Sgt. Clinton Firstbrook/Marine Corps
Marines and sailors with Marine Rotational Force-Europe 18.1 ski toward their next objective during a winter warfare training exercise at Haltdalen Training Center, Norway, on April 12, 2018. The Marine Corps is searching for a new ski system with universal bindings. Gunnery Sgt. Clinton Firstbrook/Marine Corps

The Marine Corps recently announced it will soon search the market for a new ski system that does not require a new ski boot.

Marine Corps Systems Command intends to release a request for information as part of a plan to deliver an "over the snow" capability by the end of fiscal 2019, according to a May 18 press release.

"The goal is to acquire a system with ski sets that are compatible with the Corps' Extreme Cold Weather Vapor Barrier Boots and the Intermediate Cold Weather Boots, eliminating the need to purchase new specific ski boots," the release states.

The plan is different from the March 9 sources sought solicitation the Corps issued for a new military ski system for use at its Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, California.

In that solicitation, the Marine Corps described detailed requirements for a new ski system featuring a multi-functional ski boot that can function on its own.

Military.com reached out to Marine Corps Systems Command to ask about the change but did not receive a response by press time.

However, the command "gathered feedback from Marines at the Mountain Warfare Training Center to ensure the future ski system chosen will meet mission requirements and improve existing cold weather equipment," the release states.

The Corps wants a lighter, low-maintenance ski systems that is easy to train both new and intermediate skiers how to use, the release states.

The service planned to adopt the ASNES Combat NATO ski system, which was designed for the Norwegian military, but procurement proved challenging, Christopher Woodburn, Capabilities Development director of the Deputy Maneuver Branch at Combat Development and Integration, said in the release.

The Marine Corps is now encouraged by the Army's efforts to develop a new ski system, Wooburn said. Program Executive Office Soldier is evaluating skis with universal bindings, and the Army's 10th Mountain Division has procured and used similar systems with favorable results, according to the release.

"When we went to contract the NATO ski system last year, there were delays in procurement," Woodburn said. "Because of the Army's exploration with cold weather equipment, we know there are other sources for a ski system that will satisfy the Marine Corps requirement and offer the capability more rapidly."

The Corps plans to "establish a 5-year indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract with an initial order of 1,500 military ski systems with universal bindings," the release states.

The RFI will help Systems Command assess possibilities and find a solution to field the ski system to scout snipers, reconnaissance Marines and select infantrymen, according to the release.

"We are trying to do our due diligence with taxpayers' money to make sure we get the best value, while also pushing out capabilities as quickly as we can to Marines," Woodburn said.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

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