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Practical & Tactical: Form Follows Function To Undermine Threats
Courtesy of DTRA Chemical and Biological Technologies Department
March 24, 2018

“Form following function" is the modernists’ principle that the shape of something should be primarily based upon its intended function or purpose. Unfortunately, that is not always the case when it comes to warfighter uniforms. The Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s Chemical and Biological Technologies Department is changing that with their new chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) fully encapsulated hazmat suit, which balances innovation with form and function.

April 2017 - Members of the Virginia Army National Guard's 34th Civil Support Team provide feedback on the development of a new fully encapsulated hazmat suit about the protective clothing  to members of the Tactical All-Hazards Ensemble program team. (Photo courtesy of DTRA Chemical and Biological Technologies Department)
April 2017 - Members of the Virginia Army National Guard's 34th Civil Support Team provide feedback on the development of a new fully encapsulated hazmat suit about the protective clothing  to members of the Tactical All-Hazards Ensemble program team. (Photo courtesy of DTRA Chemical and Biological Technologies Department)

Currently, warfighters are equipped with the Level A suit, an off-the-shelf product that was not designed with agility or comfort in mind. More than 15,000 warfighters are issued the Level A suit for tasks ranging from laboratory work to deployed missions. However, it does not address individual skill sets, and the suit is cumbersome, heavy and hot.

DTRA CB, in collaboration with the Natick Soldier Research and Development Center and Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, is developing a new suit, the Tactical All- Hazards Ensemble (TacHazE), to accommodate the modern needs of today’s warfighter. TacHazE will offer protection from CBRN hazards and increase tactical capability.

To identify needs across services and missions, warfighters were asked to assess their particular capability needs. Consistent responses are driving the development of a suit with a tighter fit, longer mission duration, improved glove dexterity, greater thermal management properties and better anti-fogging technologies.

The new uniform is more conformal than the Level A. By focusing on lightweight, novel materials, new respiratory technologies and new garment design strategies, such as stretchable barrier materials and new seaming technologies, DTRA CB achieved a greatly reduced thermal burden while meeting safety standards of the Level A ensemble. TacHazE also includes a personal cooling system.

To provide the highest level of protection from chemical and biological threats, total encapsulation is necessary. As such, a self-contained breathing apparatus is required. Researchers are developing novel, closed-circuit air technologies to provide up to four hours of air for less than the weight of the existing 30-minute apparatus.

The TacHazE program is expected to transition to the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense’s Joint Program Manager for Protection during fiscal year 2020. By working across various military units, DTRA CB is able to meet the needs of all warfighters, regardless of a specific mission set. Using the form following function principal, TacHazE delivers a practical, all-hazards suit ensuring warfighter protection from chemical and biological threats.

Courtesy of DTRA Chemical and Biological Technologies Department
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2018

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