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The U.S. Marine Corps wants new skis, but it’s all set as far as ski boots are concerned.

Marine Corps System Command has issued a RFI for a ski system designed to work with its Extreme Cold Weather Vapor Barrier Boots and the Intermediate Cold Weather Boots. The goal is to find a setup able to withstand harsh conditions in training and cold weather missions, the service says.

The new Marine ski systems will consist of skis, poles and universal bindings. The RFI will award a five-year IDIQ (Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity) contract, with an initial order of 1,500 Marine Corps ski systems. Ideally, MCSC wants “over-the-snow capability before” the end of FY 2019.

As Military.com notes, the service had previously planned to adopt the ASNES Combat NATO ski system—boots included—last year, but there were issues with procurement. Now it appears that the plan is to keep the existing boots, but get new skis with universal bindings. MCSC also noted that the Army’s PEO Soldier is also looking at skis with universal bindings; its 10th Mountain Division has used similar systems with positive results.

“When we went to contract the NATO ski system last year, there were delays in procurement,” said Christopher Woodburn, Capabilities Development director of the Deputy Maneuver Branch at Combat Development and Integration. “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.”

MCSC gathered feedback from Marines at the Mountain Warfare Training Center to ensure the future ski system meets mission requirements and improves upon existing cold weather equipment. Based on that feedback, Marines want a lighter, low-maintenance system that can easily be mastered by new and intermediate skiers.

This new RFI will assist MCSC in finding a way to field the ski system to scout snipers; reconnaissance Marines; and select infantrymen, the service says.

“We are trying to do our due diligence with tax payers’ money to make sure we get the best value, while also pushing out capabilities as quickly as we can to Marines,” Woodburn stated.

In the RFI, MARCORSYSCOM lists out its requirements for the skis and universal bindings. See them below:

Marine Corps Military Ski Binding Requirements

  • Shall accommodate/adjust to all sizes and types of boots within the USMC inventory (e.g. Vaper Barrier Boot, Cold Weather/Intense Cold Weather Boot, and Marine Corps Combat Boot – Temperate Weather).
  • Ski binding heel shall provide an elevated heel position, which is able to resist breakage when transferring the heel from downhill to uphill/touring mode.
  • Ski binding heel shall provide a locked and unlocked position to allow for use in downhill and uphill/touring movements.
  • Shall allow Marines to utilize free heel diagonal stride movement technique.
  • Enable the wearer to operate in conditions between 40 and -25 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Shall be able to withstand USMC storage in all weather conditions (hot, dry, humid and cold).
  • Should be able to fit a ski with a minimum width of 90mm or a maximum width of 105mm.

Marine Corps Ski Requirements

  • Shall provide adequate flotation for an individual Marine with a full combat load, totaling up to 350 pounds.
  • Top and sidewall color of the ski shall be white.
  • Shall have a non-reflective surface.
  • Weight shall not exceed 7 pounds.
  • Shall have medal edges and a single camber in order to facilitate control in differing snow conditions.
  • Be between 165cm and 185cm in length.
  • Shall accept a universal binding to allow for multiple boot use.
  • Tip and tail of the skis may have connectors/notches to allow for the use of skins.
  • Tail and tip shall each have a ½” hole to allow use with winter medevac stretchers.
  • Shall be able to withstand USMC storage in all weather conditions (hot, dry, humid and cold).
  • Shall enable the wearer to operate in conditions between 40 and -25 degrees Fahrenheit.

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