Posts Tagged ‘ABS-G’

USAF Updates OCP Fielding

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Photo: SrA Sandra Welch

Last Friday, the US Air Force released an article on the fielding of Army OCIE in OCP (MultiCam) for deploying Airmen. Referred to as JET (joint expeditionary tasking) Airmen, more than 180 of them assigned to Provincial Reconstruction Teams and other taskings are wearing the OEF Camouflage Pattern (OCP).

Interestingly, the article refers to the OCP FR ACU as the, “Joint Service Solution Uniform.” This is a first for us. While PEO Soldier regularly speaks of looking for Joint Service Solutions, even they haven’t placed that monicker on OCP lest they derail their ongoing search for a new family of camouflage patterns.

We’ve written about this plan before. Unfortunately, the Air Force still hasn’t gotten their facts right on the difference between the Army’s OCP OCIE and their own, internally developed Airman Battle System – Ground (ABS-G). For example, the article claims, “The uniform gives Airmen unique benefits and features that the Airman Battle System-Ground and Airman Battle Uniform cannot deliver.” Sure, the ABU is such a failure, the Air Force has already changed the design of the coat once and is getting ready to field an entirely new fabric story for the uniform, but the ABS-G is very popular with Combat Airmen. It’s really just the Digital Tigerstripe pattern that is the problem. So, we’ll chalk this claim up to visual camouflage.

The article goes on this same vein, “OCPs have a more advanced camouflage pattern that blends in with the Afghan terrain, making our Airmen safer and more effective on the battlefield,” said Lt. Col. Shawna McGowan, the Air Force future programs branch chief. “The material is also flame resistant, lighter weight than the ABS-G or ABU, and contains a pre-applied bug repellant.”

Not completely true. The fabric used in the ABS-G’s field uniform component is the same as used in the Army’s A2CU and is lighter and more breathable than that used in the FR ACU. However, it is not quite as durable, nor does it contain permethrin to keep the bugs at bay. However, the ABS-G is a total system that incorporates FR insulation layers. This is something that the Army’s currently fielded solution does not provide. Fielding the Army’s Gen III ECWCS in lieu of a complete ABS-G developed under the FIRESAFE program puts Airmen at danger of flame threats. The alternative is to issue Fire Resistant Environmental Ensemble (FREE) to each deploying Airmen.

As you can see in the photo above, the Air Force chose to go their own path in regards to insignia and use “spice brown” colored name and service tapes as well as enlisted ranks rather than the Army’s black lettering. Looks good.

Overall, we are pleased with the direction the Air Force is heading. But, a lot of time and money was spent developing a unique Air Force solution for Airmen. Air Force personnel, ask for a MultiCam version of the ABS-G. The Airman Battle Shirt is already available from producer Massif in OCP. There is no reason for the Air Force to abandon the currently issued FR cold and inclement weather clothing developed under ABS-G. Finally, don’t forget to just ask for a new, useful camouflage pattern for both home station and deployed environments. Maybe it should be MultiCam and maybe it should be something else, but regardless, it shouldn’t be the current Digital Tigerstripe.

Airmen Battle System – Ground Update

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

Back in May we published an article about the Air Force’s slow response to field an FR combat uniform. Well, it looks like there is finally light at the end of the tunnel. 2500 to 3000 ensembles consisting of jacket, pants, and combat shirt should be issued in February although officials don’t anticipate full fielding for at least a year. The Air Force is planning a much larger wear test of up to 10,000 sets next summer and fielding would follow from that. Why has this taken so long? Much of it has to do with the service’s desire to go their own way rather than just adapt Army or Marine FR clothing items by changing the clothing’s camouflage pattern. For example, sources tell us that development of the Airman Battle Shirt was stalled in order to integrate forearm pockets into the design. For a description of the entire ABS-G systems read this.

Additionally, efforts to field an Air Force variant of the IOTV have been stymied, and a completely new body armor system is under development. Naturally, the new armor will be in the Air Force pattern but no solicitation articulating requirements has been issued.

Airmen Battle System-Ground Components

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

Men’s boxers, women’s panties, short and long-sleeved T-shirts, a bra, and long underwear pants will be fielded in the same Sand color as the current ABU T-shirt. The garments can be worn alone or in concert with one another along the lines of the Army’s Gen III ECWCS.

Airman Battle Ensemble
The FR Airman Battle Ensemble will be fielded in the ABU’s digital Tigerstripe pattern which adapted the Army’s UCP colorway by adding a fourth color; Slate. Since the garment consisting of a jacket and trousers is designed specifically for combat the overall design has been altered slightly from the ABU although it’s general appearance will remain the same.

The jacket unfortunately retains the front zipper as well as the same useless, four chest pockets found on the ABU/BDU but adds zippered pockets on the upper sleeve as well velcro pockets on the forearm.

The trousers a near exact copy of the FR variant of the ACU.

Airman Battle Shirt
Along the same lines as the Marine Corps’ FROG shirt and Army’s Combat Shirt, the ABS will feature a moisture-wicking torso mated to FR sleeves with padded elbows and the same sleeve and forearm pocket setup as the Battle Ensemble jacket. Currently, the ABS has a mock turtleneck like the ACS. The torso will be a a solid color and the sleeves in digital Tigerstripe.

Foul-weather Jacket and Trousers
For inclement weather the Air Force is planning a lightweight rainsuit. There is also discussion of a solid colored fleece jacket although no one has gone so far as to consider a program on the level of FREE or Gen III ECWCS for the Air Force.

FR socks, balaclavas, gloves, as well as belts are under development and will join the other equipment as they are ready for fielding although most of these items are available commercially.

Although not officially a component of ABS-G, the Defensor Fortis Load Carrying System (DF-LCS) developed for ACC’s SF community and soon adopted for all Security Forces AF-wide is now available in the Air Force digital pattern. Additionally, an Air Force unique body armor system is under development.