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Munitions ricochet during live-fire training can endanger the warfighters. In order to better protect them during training, a new Google Maps-style software tool has been sponsored by the US Office of Naval Research’s (ONR) TechSolutions program. This “geospatial-awareness” tool is designed to map out training areas in great detail and to plug into the U.S. Marine Corps’ KILSWITCH—the Kinetic Integrated Lightweight Software Individual Tactical Combat Handheld for Android. Usable on Android tablets or smartphones, the KILSWITCH application gives Marines real-time situational awareness via graphic displays similar to Google Maps, but without having to be connected to a server.

According to onr.navy.mil, the application’s existing mapping capability will be enhanced by the new software plug-in tool—called KILSWITCH SDZ. The tool can map the surface danger zone (SDZ) of any live-fire exercise. The SDZ is the designated ground, sea or airspace where munitions like bullets or mortar rounds might ricochet, bounce, skip or splash before or after hitting their intended targets.

This new plug-in creates a two-dimensional rendering of a surface danger zone by overlaying the anticipated exercise area with current satellite imagery of the surrounding landscape. This enables planners to know the locations of weapons and other dangers and keep warfighters out of the line of fire.

“Because the KILSWITCH SDZ tool is handheld and portable, warfighters can plan live-fire training while in the field versus from inside of a command center,” said ONR Command Master Chief Matt Matteson. “They’re able to walk the ground and see graphic representations of weaponry, which improves planning efficiency—especially when plans change suddenly.”

Marines can use the plug-in to not only create and save surface danger zone maps but also share them with other linked-in participants—building a real-time database of warfighter movement and weaponry placement.

KILSWITCH SDZ originated in 2015 when a Marine Corps infantry officer contacted TechSolutions—ONR’s rapid-response science and technology program that develops prototype technologies to address problems voiced by Sailors and Marines, usually within 12-18 months.  TechSolutions then partnered with the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, Digital Precision Strike Suite, to develop the tool, and with NSWC IHEODTD, to conduct training and engage operational forces.