The office in charge of chemical and biological protection is gearing up to replace the protective ensemble service members wear when weapons of mass destruction are employed.
Users want more flexibility to don different layers of protection depending on the circumstances. But to do this, they also need better sensors to tell them what types of threats are coming their way, officials said at a recent conference.
Synthetic biology and advances in chemistry mean there are new potential hazards on battlefields. Even mustard gas, first used 101 years ago in World War I, has reappeared, they said.
“The threat changes for us constantly. Every year I think we add more things to the list and we very seldom take anything off the list,” said Douglas Bryce, joint program executive officer for chemical and biological defense.
The protective gear soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines wear today has not undergone a major upgrade since the late 1990s. The goal is to begin fielding new protective suits by 2020 or 2021.
The office is working to complete an analysis of alternatives for the uniform integrated protection ensemble increment 2 (UIPEI2), which will replace the joint service lightweight integrated suit technology, Bryce said in an interview at the National Defense Industrial Association’s Chemical-Biological-Radiological and Nuclear Defense Conference at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.