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American Systems to School Marines in Survival

By Doug Beizer
Special to The Washington Post
Monday, January 10, 2005; Page E04

The Marine Corps awarded a $35.8 million, five-year contract to a Chantilly company to train pilots to escape from aircraft and amphibious vehicles that crash into the ocean.

American Systems Corp. will continue its work with simulators called "dunkers," said Daniel Deschnow, vice president of the company's Orlando operations, where the contract will be managed.

American Systems Corp. of Chantilly was awarded a contract to use dunking devices to train Marines to escape from vehicles that crash into the sea. (Business Wire)

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Under the previous contract, the company developed training for the dunking devices, which plunge trainees into a swimming pool to simulate the sinking of CH-46 and CH-53 helicopters.

The training leads up to a simulation in which Marines, wearing full combat gear, are dunked in the water and flipped over in a random direction and orientation. Underwater divers and instructors in the dunker stand by to ensure everyone gets out safely.

The new contract has options for the Marines to modify the trainer to simulate other vehicles, Deschnow said. The dunker can be adjusted to simulate the interior of an amphibious vehicle or an M-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.

"The dunker is pretty much an off-the-shelf solution. We had more of an integrator role," Deschnow said. "What we did was identify the Marine Corps' requirement for the program. So we have taken that dunker and actually developed the training materials that we teach the Marines."

ASC installed dunkers at Camp Lejeune, N.C.; Camp Pendleton, Calif.; Marine Corps Base Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii; and Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan. Survival Systems of Nova Scotia, Canada, built the dunkers as ASC's partner on the project.

The need for this kind of training became apparent in the late 1990s when accidents showed that Marines were not prepared to escape from a helicopter when it ditched at sea.

ASC also offers services that include software development, infrastructure design and installation, and systems and network integration.

Doug Beizer is a staff writer with Washington Technology. For more details on this and other technology contracts, go to www.washingtontechnology.com.

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