Army and Air Force Test Cooler Chemical Suits

U.S. Army photoThe Army and Air Force have worked on a new chemical suit that is lighter and cooler for soldiers and airmen to wear. The services are testing prototypes of the new suits at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.

Engineers have worked on what they call “removing the thermal burden” of the suits. In other words, the engineers are developing cooler suits so soldiers and airmen are not sweating and losing water in combat.

The effort is called the Integrated Protective Fabric System program. It’s being led by the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research Development and Engineering Center, or NSRDEC, in Natick, Massachusetts, and the U.S. Air Force Civil Engineering Center.

Engineers have designed a cooler suit by altering the fabrics where soldiers and airmen produce the most heat such as the chest and groin.  Meanwhile the new suits reinforce areas where soldiers and airmen would likely come in contact with a chemical agent like the elbow or knee, according to press release from the Army.

The Army and Air Force plan to test the suit throughout the rest of the year.



  • larry

    I hope in their testing that the also repeatedly fold and unfold the fabrics to simulate how the uniform will fold onto itself at the soldiers joints, which can increase the pressure on and permeability of the liquid agent.

  • William P. Burke

    ‘Great idea’ My days with the Air Force you would dehydrate so fast where I trained in the tropic temps and humidity. Wish you the best.

  • JCitizen

    I did okay in the old MOPP gear – but then I worked as a civilian in industrial environments 130 to 160 degrees. We ate a lot of salt tablets and constantly drank water. Sometimes our boots would catch on fire! However, when you work in environments like that with proper rests periods, you get so used to the heat, you feel like a hot summer day is like being in winter! I’d never be able to take that now.

  • Sean

    Man…screw MOPP 4 right in the ear.

  • David

    Back in the days… I learned to sleep and snore in MOPP gear and M17 mask. Got cold in the back of an APC on those long Korean nights.

    • defensor fortismo

      The whole notion of mopp gear started when someone figured out that if you pissed on a handkerchief and held it up to your face, you wouldn’t die from mustard gas. I’m not convinced the concept hasn’t really improved since then.

  • JohnD

    So there are leak points in the new suit? Great idea! The point is to NOT expose the soldier to any aerosol or liquid agents. How can allowing sweat out and cool air in not do this? Chemical warfare is deadly and scary and uncomfortable! Fighing in it is worse!!

    • larry

      JohnD, I don’t see any mention of leak points, or increased breathability, or anything else that would infer that the fabric was more porous in this Kitup summary or in the original press release. Where did you see that?

  • galloglas

    I recall when MOPP gear was an M-17A1 Gas mask and a rubber poncho.

    • JohnD

      That was my first MOPP gear in 1977, then the MOPP suit then the ICE gear! Never got lighter or more comfortable, just more of it and heavier!! Still can’t shoot in a mask!!

    • larry

      Don’t forget your black leather gloves (like they would keep Sarin from getting to you) and your rubber galoshes or mickey mouse boots.

  • David Poche

    Any word on companies involved in trials?

  • Johnson

    I recently left the Air Force after many years as an Emergency Manager, and while it is nice not having black powder all over the real improvement we need is this. Since the chance of a Chem/Bio threat is so low but the danger is so high we have to train for the event and the continuous training in the hot gear would lead to a “boy who cried wolf” syndrome where during drills airmen would not wear the gear fully often times, leaving a button open or the hood loose to let air in. A cooler suit will hopefully reduce this and in the event they ever have to be donned for real airmen, soldiers, Marines, and sailors will be better equipped.