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Archive for the ‘FR’ Category

US Army Develops Wool-Centric FR Fabric

Monday, November 28th, 2016

Last week, the US Army released a story about a new FR fabric they’ve developed. This is great news. I love to see new materials developed. I also share Army Textile Technologist Carole Winterhalter’s and others’ enthusiasm for the reintroduction of wool into US military uniforms. There are only good things to say about wool, particularly the wool sourced from Rambouillet sheep, which rivals New Zealand’s famed Merino wool. I think it’s going to happen eventually, as well. However, there are a couple of things I want to point out about the article.

First off, the article states that the goal of the development of this new fabric blend is to create a flame-resistant combat uniform made wholly from domestic material, but that’s already been done, by multiple vendors. Although, US Army and Marine Corps FR combat uniforms are made of Tencate’s Defender M, which is milled from a blend of materials that incorporates Austrian Lenzig FR Rayon fibers, a fiber requiring a Berry waiver, there are many domestic FR fabrics. Rather, the goal here, seems to be to figure out ways to use wool, and in particular, wool blends.

Additionally, the US herd of sheep is currently insufficient to support a major DoD procurement. Currently, SOF is way out front of the services on this, and the industry is working hard to support their limited requirements while continuing to sustain its existing commercial business.

Finally, the article seems to overstate the Army’s role in the introduction of our domestic Superwash facility. To be sure, they supported the effort, but it has not sat fallow, awaiting an Army requirement. To the contrary; it is a fully viable commercial entity, currently supporting such brands as Duckworth, Farm to Feet, Point6, XGO and others.

Having said all of that, I urge them to keep up the good work. Wool is awesome and it’s unfortunate the domestic wool industry is currently so limited. Show the ranchers there’s a viable requirement, and they’ll grow to meet it.


Photo: Pvt. Antwan Williams, an Infantryman serving as a Human Research Volunteer Soldier at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, models a prototype uniform developed by NSRDEC’s textile technologists. He is also wearing a MOLLE Medium Pack System and a conceptual load carriage vest system called the Airborne Tactical Assault Panel that is designed specifically for Airborne operations but will also be evaluated for non-Airborne operations, including jungle environments. (Photo Credit: Jeff Sisto, NSRDEC Public Affairs)

Some of you are going to ask about the chest rig in the photo, called the Airborne Tactical Assault Panel. Yes, that’s Tubes which FirstSpear provided to the Army Experimental Load Carrying Facility. I’ve seen prototypes of this design going back several years and Tubes makes a great, low profile, front closure. Hopefully, we’ll see this adopted.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — U.S. Army researchers who are developing a wool-based fabric blend are aiming to improve combat uniforms while also boosting U.S. manufacturing jobs.

The Army has developed a fabric composed of 50 percent wool, 42 percent Nomex, 5 percent Kevlar and 3 percent P140 antistatic fiber. The goal is to create a flame-resistant combat uniform made wholly from domestic materials, said Carole Winterhalter, a textile technologist with the Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center.

“We have a lightweight fabric that is inherently flame resistant. No topical treatments are added to provide [flame resistance],” Winterhalter said. “We are introducing a very environmentally friendly and sustainable fiber to the combat uniform system.

To test prototype uniforms made with the fabric, three Army researchers traveled to Germany in August for Exercise Combined Resolve VII, where they worked with about 100 Soldiers. The exercise drew about 3,500 participants from NATO allies to the region.

There, the researchers joined John Riedener, the field assistance in science and technology advisor assigned to 7th Army Training Command. FAST advisors are a component of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command.

“We were in the heat of summer here, and it was very warm during the exercise,” Riedener remembered. “The uniforms were lighter weight and breathed better. Soldiers were very happy with the material.”

Soldiers from 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division participated in the 21-day testing and completed surveys before and after the exercise, said Brian Scott, NSRDEC equipment specialist, Soldier and Squad Optimization and Integration Team. The R&D team selected Hohenfels, Germany, because the evaluation of a fire-resistant wool undergarment also took place there. 

During testing, each Soldier received three prototype uniforms. Each was made from the same wool-based blend. One was “garment treated” with permethrin, an insecticide, and another was “fabric treated” with permethrin. The third was untreated. 

The Soldiers, who came from a variety of military occupational specialties, wore each of the three uniforms for about seven days in a field environment for a total of 21 days. The testing and survey instructions asked Soldiers not to compare the prototypes with existing uniforms or camouflage patterns.

Their feedback regarding comfort, durability, laundering and shrinkage, insect resistance, and overall performance will help determine whether researchers will continue the development effort, Winterhalter said.

Initial results suggest the majority of the Soldiers liked the fabric because it was lightweight and breathable; however, analysis of the survey data has yet to be completed, said Shalli Sherman, NSRDEC program manager for the Office of Synchronization and Integration.

Winterhalter is optimistic about the prospect of a wool blend being incorporated into combat uniforms because of its environmental, manufacturing and economic benefits. She said the United States has about 80,000 wool growers, and the Army would like to include the material in the clothing system.

“Wool is 100 percent biodegradable. It’s easy to dye and absorbs moisture,” said Winterhalter, who also serves as the federal government’s chief technology officer for the Advanced Functional Fabrics of America Manufacturing Innovation Institute.

“The Army has spent quite a bit of time and money to reintroduce a manufacturing process in this country called Super Wash that allows us to shrink-resist treat the wool. … When blended with other fibers, the fabric does not shrink excessively when washed.”

The new Super Wash process makes wool viable for combat clothing in nearly any application, including jackets, pants, underwear, headwear, gloves and socks, Winterhalter said.

NSRDEC researchers are planning for a larger field study with more users over a longer time period of time, possibly 30 days. More data on comfort and durability will be needed for the Army to move forward, Winterhalter said.

DRIFIRE- US Navy Coveralls

Friday, July 29th, 2016

During Warrior East, DRIFIRE showed me these FR utility coveralls in the NWU Type III pattern they developed for a US Navy customer.

Arc’teryx LEAF – Assault FR Shirt and Pant

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

Arc’teryx LEAF offers an FR version of their Assault Shirt and Pant in Tencate Defender-M fabric printed in MultiCam. These incorprate the same features as their NYCO counterparts.

Assault Shirt FR


FEATURES:
-Low profile hybrid collar with button and Velcro® closure shields neck or can be worn open
-Mesh vents under arms allow air flow under personal protective equipment
-Removable, articulated, soft elbow pads fit into integrated pockets
-Cuff button closures allow for rolled up sleeves in warm conditions
-Two secure upper arm pockets with daisy chain hard points
-4×4.5 Velcro® upper arm identification patches with V-Lite™ retention ring

Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL

Assault Pant FR

FEATURES:
-Adjustable waist adds sizing flexibility of 2.5”/6cm
-Belt loops fit H-150 Rigger’s Belt or E-220 Rigger’s Harness
-Internal knee cap sleeve fits removable soft knee pads or LEAF knee caps
-Two hand pockets with internal knife pocket; two seat pockets; two thigh dump cargo pockets with daisy chain hard points
-Velcro® ankle cuff closure seals over boots

Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL

The entire Arc’teryx LEAF line will be on display during SOFIC in the Campbell Private Room at the Embassy Suites, across from the convention center (above the Starbucks).

Warrior Expo – DRIFIRE Search and Rescue Board Short

Friday, May 6th, 2016

I know we’ve talked about these FR Board Shorts from Drifire in the past but they’ve finally received NAVAIR approval.

I imagine you’re scratching your head over FR shorts but there’s a good reason. They were designed as a short that Rescue Swimmers coukd wear under their Drysuits and that’s why they are FR.

They are made from a 7 oz fabric with drirelease moisture wicking and odor control treatment. The shorts have a Velcro closure at the waist with adjustable waistband. There are also two bellowed cargo pockets with drainage holes.

www.drifire.com

Marine South – Massif ELEMENTS Jacket

Sunday, April 10th, 2016

The ELEMENTS Jacket is made from Massif® Battleshield X™ FR fabric which incorprates Gore® membrane technology. This makes it very wind resistant. Versions have been certified by all four services for flight use.

Features:
Designed for wear over a flight suit or uniform and under armor
Full front zipper with protective wind flap
Low-profile shoulder pockets for easy access to gear
Large zippered hand pockets
IR tabs on both shoulders
Flapped pen pockets on shoulders
Flapped pocket on left forearm for pens or flashlights
Right forearm zippered storage pocket
Easy grip zipper pulls
Waist drawcord cinches jacket closed

Above is a Desert variant of the jacket but it is also offered in OD, Coyote, USAF Tigerstripe, Black and MultiCam.

www.massif.com/flame-resistant/jackets

Hexonia – Ballistic Garments

Friday, March 18th, 2016

One of the brands I encountered at Enforce Tac and IWA earlier this month was Hexonia. They have been working on Gladius, the German Army’s Future Soldier System and produce some very interesting knit garments.

160317_Baluw Combatshirt

They’ve done a lot of work on the clothing subsystem of Gladius which includes ballistic undergarments as well as Combat Shirt. Hexonia’s approach to ballistic underwear, called BALUW is the combination of three dimensional production techniques utilizing specialty yarns. As you can see, they offer body mapped knits for the torso of the garment. Their production offers ergonomically shaped products with significantly reduced number of seams, or in some cases, no seams at all. BALUW is worn as a first layer directly on the skin. The tight fit is to ensure that it can’t be blown away from the skin by a blast wave. Even the elastic zones are made of ballistic material and increase comfort without reducing the level of protection.

160317_Baluw Short

Their material combination also has excellent physiological properties. It has a very smooth hand against the skin and doesn’t lead to any abrasions. Additionally, thanks to the hydrophobic materials, sweat is absorbed readily and wicked away from the body. What’s more, the material is flame retardant with no burn, melt or drip. Finally, BALUW can be washed at 60 °C.

www.hexonia.de

US SOF Seeking New Maritime Assault Suit Systems

Monday, March 14th, 2016

Earlier this month a solicitation closed for new Commercial Off The Shelf, Maritime Assault Suit Systems for use by US Naval Special Warfare. Seen below is the current version of the FR dry suit for surface swimmer ops. Interestingly, the new version may not be in the traditional Sepia color that has long been a hallmark of the MASS. The requirement has opened the design up to other subdued colors or even a camouflage print. Here’s an idea so what they’ll be buying.

img_1777.jpgUSSOCOM’s Directorate of Procurement, on behalf of the US Natick Soldier Research and Development Center (US Army – NSRDEC) and Program Manager – SOF Survival, Support and Equipment Systems (PM-SOF SSES), Natick MA, has a requirement for a Maritime Assault Suit System (MASS).

This program is seeking surface dry suit variants: (1) MASS and (2) Lightweight MASS (L-MASS), each consisting of an over-garment with neck relief/ring, repair kit and user manual, which can be used as a combat suit in maritime, land, airborne, shipboard, and transitional environments of the US Navy. To keep the user comfortable, the MASS and L-MASS shall provide the greatest degree of water vapor management and must be durable enough for rugged field use. The MASS and L-MASS shall keep the operator dry in maritime and terrestrial extremes and all weather conditions without interfering with typical mission movements or compromising range of motion for activities including swimming, running, assault movements and weapons manipulation. Both versions must be lightweight, fit comfortably, and must be able to keep the operator dry while immersed in water without significant weight gain.

The neck ring, neck, and wrist gaskets shall be comfortable, shall not interfere with individual clothing or equipment, and shall be adequately protected from weather conditions and physical damage. The MASS and L-MASS must have front entry and relief zipper, integrated socks, non-fixed optional use internal suspender design, be easily accessible, and have shoulder, thigh, and calf pockets. The suits must be designed in a manner that reduces the effects of abrasion on key garment stress areas, be adequately quiet during typical mission movements with ease in donning and doffing. Face fabric must be capable of being dyed with a subdued color if specified by the government.

The MASS shall have a standard operational life of at least three (3) years. The L-MASS shall have a standard operational life of at least one (1) year. Both must be repairable and the contractor shall be capable of providing repair services for components typically damaged by routine wear and tear.

Full performance characteristics can be seen here.

Dutch SF Wearing Fibrotex Fightex Uniforms for Mali Deployment

Friday, March 11th, 2016

During Enforce Tac we shared a few photos of signature management products by Fibrotex. The uniform used in conjunction with the ghillie suit is an FR garment issued to Dutch SF in their new digital pattern.

Offered in the Netherlands by Profile Equipment, these garments are intended for wear in hot weather and the proprietary fabric is treated with Permethrin as well as being FR.

 

The ripstop weave fabric is a blend of four different fibers. Additionally, stress points and slotted buttons are bartacked and they’ve incorporated wide belt loops for duty belts as well as height adjustable kneepads in addition to easily removable labels and washing instructions to prevent irritation.

For more info, visit Profile Equipment.