The Marine Corps has released a solicitation for a new military ski system for use at the Corps' Mountain Warfare Training Center Bridgeport, California, reaffirming the service's commitment to improving troops' ability to fight and operate in the cold.
In a six-page sources sought solicitation published March 9, the service laid out detailed requirements for a new standard-issue ski system, including a multi-functional ski boot that can function on its own as well.
Bridgeport, with its mountainous terrain, is the Marines' stateside location for cold-weather training.
Ultimately, the solicitation calls for 863 sets of skis in different sizes. It comes following a broader Corpswide effort to purchase more than 2,600 NATO ski systems to replace aging and ineffective legacy gear.
During a trip to Norway in December, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller revealed the plan to outfit troops deployed there, as well as scout snipers, reconnaissance Marines, and select infantry companies, with the new skis.
"If we are who we say we are, which is the nation's force in readiness, we have to be ready," Neller told the Marines at the time.
The Marine Corps ultimately plans to spend $12.75 million on new skis as the service transitions from nearly two decades of desert combat to operations in a more diverse array of climates.
According to the most recent solicitation, the skis for use at Bridgeport will weigh no more than six pounds, and preferably four. The skis will be able to bear at least 250 pounds of weight, and the system should "maximize comfort wherever possible" to keep fatigue at bay.
The Marines want the skis in white snow camouflage, with non-reflective surfaces, to enable troops to blend into their surroundings day and night.
Manufacturers have until April 9 to respond to the solicitation; it's not clear when the training center expects to receive the new skis.
Fielding of the NATO ski system to special communities and infantry Marines is set to begin at the end of this year.
-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck