Science

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The U.S. Army is working on an improved version of the Flameless Ration Heater that doesn’t need water to heat Meals, Ready-to-Eat.

“Unlike the current ration heater, the Air Activated heater does not require water, a valuable battlefield commodity. This new approach to heating and advanced technology aims to lower cost, weight, and logistics burden of chemical heating technologies,” according to Army officials at Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center.

The Air Activated Heater contains a peel away layer that, once removed, allows air to penetrate the holes of the outer foil layer. After passing through the felt diffusion layer, the air reacts with the activated carbon, electrolyte, and rate-controlling binder, producing a safe exothermic reaction, Natick officials say.

This new technology will heat the MRE entrée by 100 degrees Fahrenheit in less than ten minutes. Negligible hydrogen off-gassing eliminates operational and transport restrictions associated with the current heater and offers improved safety, according to Natick.

The DoD Combat Feeding Program plans to transition the technical data to Defense Logistics Agency – Troop Support for use with the MRE.

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size0U.S. Army scientists have created a new smartphone app help commanders plan for how much water their soldiers will need on a mission.

The Soldier Water Estimation Tool, or SWET, is designed to simplify water planning, task that can be a logistical nightmare for leaders. Too much water can strain already heavy combat loads, forcing some soldiers to pack too little in favor of a lighter pack. When soldiers don’t have enough water, dehydration could set in, decreasing performance and increasing the risk of serious heat illnesses.

“Water is a huge logistical problem for training and field missions,” Nisha Charkoudian, a research physiologist from the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, known as USARIEM, Thermal and Mountain Medicine Division, said in a recent Army press release.

“Obviously, planners do not want too much, but having too little can lead to serious problems. Dehydration exacerbates symptoms caused by heat and altitude exposure, and makes a lot of things worse, including the ability to perform physical tasks in hot and high-altitude environments.”

Charkoudian worked with researchers from USARIEM and a team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory to develop an app that will help unit leaders accurately predict water needs with the goal of minimizing the burden of water transport and sustaining hydration.

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I just put up a story on Military.com about a new Army program dubbed the Rapid Adaptive Zoom for Assault Rifles, or RAZAR scope. It was developed by a former Special Forces officer so shooters can zoom in and out on short and long-range targets far faster than they can with traditional rifle-scope technology.

The RAZAR uses what’s known as adaptive-zoom technology.

Unlike traditional optical zoom, “adaptive zoom changes the focal lengths of two or more lenses by varying the curvature of the lenses’ surfaces to provide optical zoom without changing their overall positions relative to one another. This allows the user to view either a wide-angle image or zoom in on an area of interest with a compact, low-power system.”

“The impetus behind the idea of push-button zoom is you can acquire what you’re interested in at low magnification and – without getting lost – zoom in for more clarity,” said RAZAR developer Brett Bagwell, now an optical engineer with Sandia National Laboratories.

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The swatch of Army uniform fabric on the right has been treated with a special coating, making it super liquid repellent. Three drops of grape juice sit on top. The un-coated swatch on the left could not keep the grape juice from soaking in. (U.S. Army photo) The swatch of Army uniform fabric on the right has been treated with a special coating, making it super liquid repellent. Three drops of grape juice sit on top. The un-coated swatch on the left could not keep the grape juice from soaking in. (U.S. Army photo)

U.S. Army scientists have developed an advanced coating for fabrics that could make soldier uniforms much more effective at repelling water, oil and many other liquid chemicals.

This durable “omniphobic” coating is much more repellent than Quarpel – a water-repellent coating that has been used for the past 40 years, Army officials maintain.

“It’s omniphobic. That means it hates everything,” Quoc Truong, a physical scientist at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, said in an Army press release.

Truong and other Army scientist developed the coating to ensure “minimal impact to Army fabrics’ original physical properties and performances, such as comfort, while providing added repellency to water, oil and toxic chemicals,” the release states.

The coating greatly reduces how often soldiers need to clean their clothes and enhances chem-bio protection, according to Army officials.

Uniforms treated with the coating then underwent field testing to assess field durability, performance and user acceptance.

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U.S. Army scientists are trying to show how better-fitting body armor can improve a soldier’s performance.

Members of the Anthropology and Human Factors Teams at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center are conducting a range-of-motion and encumbered anthropometry study to better understand the link between fit and performance with the Improved Outer Tactical Vest Gen III.

“We have this belief that if the fit of the body armor is really good, then the performance is going to be maximized,” Dr. Hyeg joo Choi, the principal investigator for the study, said in an Oct. 9 Army press release. “So the question is how can we quantify a good fit so that soldiers’ performance is maximized?”

To help answer that question, Choi and her fellow researchers collected measurements from 23 soldiers at Natick, including 21 males and two females.

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For those who don’t know, Superfeet has these insoles that are made from carbon fiber, so they are ultra-thin but still offer a great deal of support.

The Carbon insoles are made from the company’s special plastic foam material that has been infused with carbon fiber.
“We are able to achieve a lighter-weight, thinner product that is going to withstand a lot more pounding,” Brian Mastrofino, sales operations manager, said at Modern Day Marine 2014. “Lighter, faster, stronger.”

The heel cup and mid-foot stabilizer resemble other Superfeet models, but the cushioning at the front of the foot doesn’t look like much. It’s down-right flimsy at first glance.

“It’s designed for lower-volume footwear,” Mastrofino said. “Our products give support by supporting the rear foot. It keeps your foot in its natural shape we achieve our cushioning by keeping all of the soft tissue that Mother Nature gave you in the right spots.”

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U.S. Army weapons engineers are developing a new 40mm grenade that is designed to explode over enemy fighters hiding behind cover.

The Small Arms Grenade Munitions, or SAGM, will be twice as lethal as the current 40mm grenade against targets in defilade, according to Steven Gilbert, project officer with the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center.

Gilbert, and a team of about 10 engineers within the Joint Service Small Arms Program, is trying to replace the standard 40mm grenade with an airburst model to be used against enemy in defilade positions.

“Warfighters currently lack the ability to achieve desired accuracy and incapacitating effects against personnel targets in defilade at ranges from 51 to 500 meters,” Gilbert said in a recent Army press release.

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