SIG Sauer Academy

USAF SF Updates DF-LCS

We’ve written about the Defensor Fortis Load Carrying System (DF-LCS) in the past. Love it or hate it, it was designed specifically for USAF Security Forces (AF SF). But, like other equipment, it has evolved to better suit the needs of the careerfield.

Beginning in late November, AF SF will begin receiving an improved version of their gear harness commonly referred to as (HGEAR) as part of the 5-Year Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract with Garrett Container Systems (GCS).

Over a year ago, the AF Security Forces Center (AFSFC), surveyed the careerfield for suggested improvements to DF-LCS. The majority of the recommendations from users included: a better fit to size, improved padding, and web management.

The latest version, dubbed GEN 3 will incorporate those major recommendations. For example, padding was added to the shoulder area and the neck yoke was altered to improve wear comfort. Remember, this is the same system being worn by our Defenders both deployed as well as at home station. When working the gate, AF SF rarely wear heavy armor, rather relying on concealable, soft armor. Consequently, the harness can chafe the neck. Additionally, Velcro straps and additional management buckles were added to the design to help police loose straps. They also changed the front height adjuster to allow the user to pull down to adjust rather than pull up. It’s a more natural movement and mimics strap adjustments on packs.

Finally, each harness in the rifleman kit will now include a tear/water resistant guide on adjustment, wear and care of the DF-LCS as well as an instructions on how to use PALS. Odd as it seems in this day and age, there are some folks that don’t know how to weave. But, better safe than sorry.

For those not allowed to buy from AFSFC’s IDIQ (and that’s a lot of folks), the GEN3 in both Air Force Digital Tigerstripe as well as Operation Enduring Freedom Camouflage Pattern (OCP) or, more popularly known as MultiCam, will soon be available at www.GCSwarrior.com or through one of their sales reps.

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42 Responses to “USAF SF Updates DF-LCS”

  1. Adam says:

    You can polish a turd, but it’s still a turd.

  2. Doc says:

    Wonder if we will have to QC on the wear and adjustment guide??
    Just Sayin…Nom..Nom…Nom..still tastes like crap, good thing no step in.

  3. Lawrence says:

    As an improved version of a basic web gear set up it doesn’t look that bad – apart from the horrible AF camo pattern…

  4. Aaron says:

    It’s a MAV without being a MAV…

  5. Craig says:

    I work with SF as a contractor and No one likes it.

  6. AJ says:

    Why not just use the US Army Fighting Load Carrier!!!! Then you don’t have to reinvent the wheel! That thing is better and that is what we wear at my base thank god we are not forced wear that DFLCS POS. Except the USAF make you carry to many weapons on your person at one time. Baton, rifle handgun etc etc not realistic

  7. I see what you mean but... says:

    What did you guys use before this?

  8. Buckaroomedic says:

    Nice to see the ability to adjust the shoulder yoke with the “pull-down” straps. That makes a lot of sense. I wonder why other rigs don’t offer the same thing?

  9. I see what you mean but... says:

    I keep hearing guys whine about how much this sucks. So I ask what you used before and NONE of you can even tell me? The best alternative that anyone has come up with on here is the Army fighting load carrier? Has this guy even used one? Sounds like a serious case of vaginitis to me.

  10. Alan says:

    Talk about “re-inventing…”.

    This is nothing more than the old “LBE/TA-50” on steroids. It seems everything old is new again, with the younger crowd-many who had never worn LBE,are going to get back into it,after the “Big Army/Air Force” ect see that hanging everything and the kitchens sink on a Troop is not effective,especially in a vehicle.

    Imagine this thing in OD, with a LBT tag on it,and you have,in essence,a 1980’s LBE kit.Why not just give that a go again…once adjusted properly,it worked well,was “relatively” comfortable,but with the addition of MOLLE,no more para-cording or zip-tying the pouches to the belt and suspenders.

    I have been in 27 years so far,and alot of my CAT team mates gave me the weirdest looks when we deployed to the Philippines a few years back,and I brought my LBE/LCE belt/suspender (We have the leeway to wear/use “whatever works”)…in the heat,I was relatively comfortable..the others…not so much.

    Just a old Soldiers thoughts/.02

  11. Crusty says:

    An LBE and a web belt worked in the 90s

  12. Craig says:

    @I see what you mean but….
    The Airman that I work with used to have a Rhodesian Chest rig, like the kinda from SKD tactical, but the BIg AirForce wanted things to be more standardized and took them away. Currently They are just wearing the standard IBA kitted out for LE duties. Its a SOF base so I guess thats the norm but for a short time before it went SOF, after they took the chest rigs, they wore the above mentioned and hated it. Reason being is that they were still required to wear their patrol belt and the harnes got in the way or rode on their belt. If they raised it out of the way it made it difficult to reach important gear because of the way they were required to place their pouches. Is that a good enough reason for you?

  13. Craig says:

    I would have said so ealier, but I have better things to do. Just happend to come back when looking for new posts.

    • Administrator says:

      Craig,

      I appreciate your comments bit you have to remember, there is nothing more important than SSD.

      ~Me

  14. FormerSFMedic says:

    It kills me to see stuff like this. I work in RDAT&E now and I’ve seen substantially better designs than this. I know the military well enough to know that the materials used in this setup are probably shoddy at best. So basically you get a poor design made from less than quality materials. What’s the point? Better than before…..that’s fine, but the AF has got to start thinking outside their bubble. We have made serious advancements in this specific setup, and yet the AF decides to go with something in the middle. “It works” doesn’t cut it in real world fighting. It has to work and then some for troops to have the advantage. Just like the Army, the AF has wasted precious defense budget dollars on something that is already obsolete!

  15. CJ says:

    We used to have OD green Blackhawk or Eagle Industries non-molle tac vests for security missions and black duty belts for LE. Once we went to ABUs, they gave us this stuff. It does not adjust well, and once it is adjusted, it loosens very easily – i.e., when running. Most people just wear their gear on their IBA; hardly anyone uses concealable armor anymore, at least where I am at. I used an Eagle RRV downrange (then continued to use it home station) and felt that it worked the best for me. The black duty gear looks much more professional and is more practical for LE missions. Now, we obviously haven’t gotten this new stuff yet so I can’t rate it, but I’m with Adam – looks like glitter on a turd to me.

  16. Administrator says:

    Interestingly, I am intimately familiar with the history of this piece of kit. I do happen to know what USAF SF wore before this was adopted.

    The answer is a hodge podge of Viet Nam era castoffs, commercial tac vests, excess BALCS kits and gear guys purchased for themselves.

    Always remember, DF-LCS is a system for USAF Security Forces. They are required to provide base security, access control/high value asset protection, convoy operations, local area patrol, and finally Law Enforcement duties. That’s a lot of missions and it has to adapt to all of them. Plus, it has to be worn alone or with armor.

    I would say that DF-LCS may not be optimal, however, it is my contention that it was designed for use both deployed AND at home station so it doesn’t follow the traditional vest style. It also offers a suite of pouches specifically for the SF mission. No one mentions those at all.

    Could USAF SF buy something better? Probably, but why? Does DF-LCS work? Does it meet the requirement? Is there even a written requirement for DF-LCS? I am betting the answer to that one is “No.”

    Should guys be able to use what works down range? I believe they should. However, as one Cop friend reminded me, SF eats its own. There’s always a shoeclerk out there who wants everyone in the same gear, efficiency be damned.

    As an exercise, let’s list out the things wrong with DF-LCS. Real things. Not stuff like, “it loosens up when I run.” That just means you don’t know how to properly secure your straps.

    Maybe someone will read this and when Gen IV comes out the ideas will be incorporated.

  17. AJ says:

    US Army Fighting Load Carrier (NSN 8465-01-525-0575)
    Yes I used one it is primarily what guys wear on duty on base and in theater because our SFS commander allows it. It is better because it easily conforms to fit over body armor also the army and marines wear it I often have seen many infantrymen wear same load bearing kit. I believe it is also the standard issue for the us army. They have several generations of it the newest includes a zipper on the chest. Probably wasting my time writing this because who knows if people have even worn it or they often have their own piece of kit they like which is fine.
    P.S. @Administrator you should not go around commenting about ops when you have a tag like that. That is why we have the DFLCS, chairbourne rangers who make decisions on gear worn by people who actually have to carry out the ops. Flight or Duty guys should always develop what we use and equip ourselves with because they know what works and they have to wear it not some office geek who rides a desk.

    • Administrator says:

      AJ,

      First off, the FLC isn’t bad and might serve you well deployed, but in garrison, maybe not so much considering what you do. However, neither the Army nor Marine Corps issue it any longer. They’ve moved on to the TAP.

      Next, my “name.” I can tell by your impassioned response that you have are completely oblivious to the concept that “Administrator” refers to the fact that I am the owner, editor, and principal writer for SSD. If I have any relevant experience, it probably goes back to before you were born. However, I will grant you that I was never a cop. But rather, I do offer something most people don’t; a long memory.

      As for who developed DF-LCS. It wasn’t developed in a vacuum by any means. A Cop on the ACC staff had served at the 820th. He wanted to fix a bunch of individual equipment issues plaguing the careerfield. One of his projects was to take the Cop of the Year winners and sit down with Matt Johnson to design and assemble a load bearing kit for AF SF. The guys who had direct input on this design ALL had lots of operational experience. And, Matt Johnson is, literally, THE best designer of nylon gear in the universe. His track record speaks for itself.

      The “back office guy” who is responsible for DF-LCS getting into the USAF went back to the 820th after that staff tour and used it operationally for several years.

      Ultimately, your post reeks of “fail” on so many levels. My advice to you is to:
      A.) Know your audience
      B.) Know what you are talking about
      C.) Consider how you phrase things so you don’t piss people off who DO know what they are talking about

      Finally, is a general statement for all USAF Security Forces guys. You need to realize that the Air Force has a duty to equip you IAW your MISCAP. If you want all kinds of high speed, cool guy gear, there is a career track for that, in fact several. If you aren’t satisfied with ensuring that Air Force personnel and equipment are safe from threat then you are in the wrong business.

      ~Me

  18. FLC says:

    1) Buckles in center means 4 inches of real estate you cant mount anything to. This pushes your gear off to the sides. If you need to wear your vest high to access pistol on your hip you will not reach critical kit on your vest. And that same critical kit is now on top of your pistol. FLC uses a zipper to maximize Real estate in front, but has back up buckles too.
    2) Those big 1 1/2 wide buckles and triglide buckles on the chest will interfere with other gear, packs etc.They should be lower, or non existant. Some buckles from manufacturers(lowest Bidder) rattle.
    My two Cents.

  19. I see what you mean but... says:

    @AJ, dude, how does that shoe leather taste? Wow, SAOFR.

  20. Terry says:

    I must admit that I have no experience with the DF-LCS, but it looks like a pretty good interpretation of a modernised ALICE set to me, of course using PALS to put it all together instead of those awful metal ALICE clips. Aside from the fact that a belt and harness can be a bit awkward for vehicle ops, there is nothing wrong with the overall design – How well it works in practise is all down to the details.

    Quality and materials appear to be on par with the rest of the standard issue gear for the US Army, Rangers and Marines, which is somewhere between “adequate” and “pretty good”. The bar tacks seem to be solid and there are box-stitched reinforcements on the stress points.

    Maybe the only changes that I would make without having used and evaluated the kit, would be:
    1) Replace the two center 1″ buckles with a single 2.5″ or so buckle. If we were being really fancy, a dual adjuster would be a nice touch but may not be worth the additional cost.
    2) Delete the buckles on the shoulder harnesses (for the same reasons as outlined by “FLC” and extend the wider section of the shoulder pads down to where the buckles once were.

  21. Administrator says:

    Anyone notice they still have canteen pouches?

  22. FLC says:

    from Admin:
    This is good input. Thanks. Any ideas for improvements?

    ~Me

    USAF: take Army FLC’s in UCP pattern. you can get them cheap from your sister Service. They will work great, and look fine especially when you mount AF specific pockets on them. UCP colors match AF colors pretty well.

  23. CJ says:

    Admin – I know you don’t know me, but I’m an E6 who’s been a cop for 10 years. I know how to set up equipment. I’m not offended by your comment, but I am capable of tying down straps. Let’s talk about the pouches for a moment. My baton pouch is too small for my baton (Monadnock). My flashlight pouch is too small for my flashlight (Surefire Z2). Indeed, we still have canteen pouches. The hydration pouch is ENORMOUS. The double M16 mag pouches are fine, but the triple M16 mag pouches are overkill. They are (once again) like an updated version of the ALICE mag pouches. There is some funky “insert” to hold NVGs. I have no idea what it is supposed to do or where it goes. I used to be a 203 gunner – the 40mm pouches are very awkward and under combat stress it would be very difficult to rapidly access the munitions. They use fastex buckles rather than the simple velcro flap construction of most 40mm pouches.

    I know they are attempting to cover all aspects of the mission with one set of equipment, but LE and Security are two different beasts requiring two sets of gear. While performing LE tasks, we should be wearing gear similar to civilian LE – duty belt with all the required items and concealable armor. While performing security or combat tasks downrange, we should be wearing the IBA and molle-based gear.

    I have several friends that have come to my duty station from the 820th, and none of them have anything good to say about the DF-LCS.

  24. Warthog says:

    I’m a DoD contractor and at my AF base, the SF guys wear molle gear… So its not everywhere.. Kinda like the ranger system….

  25. Why is it that when the country is in so much debt that each branch of service and then each AFSC has to have their “own” stuff made? What was wrong with the BDU’s that EVERYONE wore? What is wrong with going with the same pattern DoD wide? Just seems to make sense that it would save money.

  26. Administrator says:

    CJ, you bring up some interesting points and you’ve essentially grown up with war so you bring a different perspective than guys from my generation who didn’t have gear like this when we started out. Plus, HOPEFULLY, you’ve been more war focused than inspection focused although I know that can be tough in the Air Force.

    Use your Night Vision insert in your canteen pouch or a GP pouch. Just stick it in and it will protect your NODs from bumps.

    Those 40mm pouches were made that way so that guys wouldn’t lose rounds during the 99% of time they aren’t engaging the enemy. A little practice and you’ll be fine.

    Those huge 5.56 pouches are actually hold outs from the BALCS LCS. I am pretty sure that was used as a baseline. We didn’t like those in SOF either. That’s where the various SOF LCS kits came from.

    Hopefully, someone can come on board and discuss the baton and flashlight issues. Sounds like the pouch suite didn’t evolve with the equipment it was designed to carry. To me, it would seem ludicrous that you would be forced to keep using an outdated tool simple because it was the only thing that would fit on a $5.00 nylon pouch.

  27. Administrator says:

    FLC,

    They aren’t making FLCs anymore.

  28. Swat34 says:

    I would NOT want to wear that shit down range. As a former Marine we tested a couple new design LBVs in ’05 in 29 Palms and we always went back to the CIF issued MOLLE LBV because it worked, was simple, easy to adjust and comfortable with and without armor. I think they should have adopted an off-the-shelf padded MOLLE battle belt and suspenders. The SF guys could attach all the pouches and bolsters right to that thing and been good and comfortable with it. They’ve forgotten the KISS rule apparently.

  29. CJ says:

    Swat34, there is a padded molle belt with the system, although no suspenders are provided (or probably authorized). My guess is that it replaces our black duty belt for LE use, although having to rearrange pouches on a daily basis depending on your post that day seems unrealistic.

  30. Lasse says:

    Since it’s called DF-LCS, I imagine that there would be nothing wrong with having several “primary” components like some of the SF kits have? So why not go with a warbelt with suspenders, a chestrig? The chestrig could be made to be worn over armor, or attached directly to armor, as well as being able to use as a standalone component comfortably (sounds like 90% of chestrigs that came out in the last 3 years).

    Without having any special knowledge of what people who are issued DFLCS kits, it sounds like it varies a bit too much to be a 1 primary component system. A H harness has it’s place, but from what I’ve read it doesn’t sound like a good starting platform for an “all inclusive” system.

    The pouch selection seems ok to me.. Triple mag pouches aren’t anything I’d use, but in the kits you apparently get 4 doubles, which means 8 mags, if you aren’t happy with 8, a few triple pouches will save you 2 columns of space. Personally, I’d switch the canteen pouches with upright zippered pouches that fit canteens, and modify the nvg pad to fit.
    If your pouch doesn’t fit your issued equipment, then that just makes me believe even more that this system should not be issued to such a broad specter of AF personnel, but rather smaller and more specialized kits. Adjustable lids might do some good, but if your light physically doesn’t fit the pouch, an adjustable lid doesn’t do much good.

    Just a little rambling from a Norwegian with a sewing machine…

  31. AJ says:

    You are right I know nothing, thank you for setting me straight. I am only a veteran NCO of Iraq and Afghanistan, and have been halfway around the world in my ten years in the military. When I joined back in 2001 we had nothing for gear in my unit also had to buy a lot of my own kit. I also deployed to Afghanistan with no body armor and no real high speed equipment. We were going outside the wire flying into places that were by no mean safe. I went to Iraq and we finally got some gear issued along with that dflcs and no one in the unit liked it. I am not going to waste my time.

  32. I see what you mean but... says:

    AJ, you got exactly what you deserved. You came in here and talked smack. You can man up or play “victim”

  33. CJ says:

    AJ, thanks for keeping the standard for our career field low. If you’re a veteran NCO, act like one.

    Lasse – in terms of this being issued to a broad spectrum of personnel, it is only issued to Security Forces, the Air Force equivalent of Military Police. There are some subsets to the system, i.e. M203, M249, M240 and squad leader add-on kits.

    What are other services’ MP/MA units issued in terms of duty gear? We essentially have similar jobs – should we not have similar equipment?

  34. T8R says:

    Adminstator,
    I feel your post to AJ was spot on. You were exactly correct with the development of the DF-LCS, but I would like to take it one step further. The AFSFC took the ACC design and refined it based on Sr NCO & Officer feedback, and set up a contract vehicle for units to purchase it. This was after evaluating the several other systems including the FLC and finding out they didn’t meet the SF needs plus the US Army had a significant back order on FLC at the time. Plus a board of Sr. NCOs and Officers representing all MAJCOMs SF voted for the adopting the DF-LCS vs the FLC, because of it lack of capabilies for the SF unique mission. AF SF don’t just have one mission like an US Army 11B or USMC 0311, they are required to perform several other missions per their doctrine. At the time leadership was not happy seeing SF Airman looking like mismatch renegades. So they tasked the board to come up with a system that met the needs of SF career field. You’re exacted right the DF-LCS was not designed in a vacuum nor was anyone at the MAJCOM level unaware of what was coming down the pike. In my opinion, I feel the system was not presented down the chain of command properly, nor were the Airmen properly educated on how to set it up and the rationale for it. I also feel Airmen don’t like it because several units purchased the wrong equipment before a contract award. Thus the reason it doesn’t fit, uncomfortable, too bulky or as Airmen say “sucks”. I feel that with training and tailoring it per the mission e.g. Not wearing every pouch that comes with the kit, SF AMN would appreciate the work to get them the best kit possible.

    To those of you SF folks out their, that have something negative to say. Think hard and write about possible solutions vs bitching in this forum. If you troops have comments like “it sucks”. Ask them why and have them come up with a solution and push it up the chain to get it fixed. Its called NCO work for a reason, so if you’re an NCO or future NCO, do your damn job! T8R out

  35. Crusty says:

    Well said T8R

  36. […] patterns: Woodland, 3-Color Desert, UCP, and OCP. Associated systems such as the USMC’s ILBE, USAF DF-LCS, and SOCOM’s SOF-LCS as well as individual components have been produced in even more styles […]

  37. Pete says:

    You guys make no sense this piece of gear has been around for years as the Blackhawk or Eagle Molle H Harness. All the AF did was change the color and give it a snazzy name. I bet you guys love the ABU also…. Sheep Bah bah bah!

  38. Made up name says:

    Wow, the USAF took a Blackhawk H-harness and put a grey camo pattern on it. I’m glad the air force is making an effort to equip their cops. Really, I am happy about that. The H-Harness is a heck of alot better than the old LCE or ITLBV. I have worn all of the above and I have to say the FLC is the best I have worn. It is more comfortable, adjustable and has the most amount of pals space on it. Also, not having padded shoulder straps it makes it easier to shoulder a rifle/carbine. And just a note, I only add 3, m4 mags and maybe hydration bladder to my carrier when deployed OCONUS. The FLC balances uneven loads alot better than DF-LCS. Unfortunately in this career field we often aren’t carrying loads in a symmetric fashion. Anyways, not trying to start any problems but I just am not quite ready to give up my FLC for anything. Also, AJ May rub you guys the wrong way but I know where he is coming from.

  39. Made up name says:

    Oh yeah, also, did they use an 800 pound dude to model the DF-LCS?
    It’s friggin huge! You have to take that back panel off losing more real estate. But you can’t mount pouches to the rear and comfortably sit in a truck all day or night. The molle battle belt idea is cool but most SFS units dual arm and have to carry 3 M4 mags. That chews up 4-6 PALS spots which is alot when your dealing with those belts. And then with that kind of weight you have a tendency to want to add suspenders. And then you might as well wear a harness. It’s not as easy to figure out which carrier is best than you might think. Just food for thought. Choi.