The Navy Will Pay Big Bucks to Change Their Navy Working Uniforms


Written by W. L. Gore & Associates

Replacing the Navy Working Uniform Type I will cost the service about $180 million over a five-year period, Kit Up reported.

The soon-to-be-discontinued uniforms, introduced in 2009, cost the Navy $229 million to develop. The outfit has been criticized for it’s ineffective “blueberry” camouflage, which only conceals sailors after they’ve fallen into the water. The suit’s nylon material melts when exposed to fire, raising further safety concerns.

Due to the high cost, The Senate recently added a provision to the National Defense Authorization Act requiring the Defense Department provide advanced notice to Congress before developing new camouflage.

The Navy will begin issuing NWU Type III, replacement uniforms, in October 2017 and will eliminate Type I by the fall of 2019.

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Army Launches New Department: The Rapid Capabilities Office


Written by W. L. Gore & Associates

In an effort expedite critical defense technologies, Eric K. Fanning, the Secretary of the Army, has launched the Rapid Capabilities Office, Kit Up reported. The new department offers rapid prototyping to better address the needs of commanders.

Initially, the Office will focus on capabilities in electronic warfare and cybersecurity as well as navigation and timing. Fanning believes the new office will enable the U.S. military to advance dominance and confront emerging threats. The Office expects to impact military operations within one to five years.

Ultimately the Office intends to expand the solutions-capacity of chosen commanders in select operations. This differs from the Army Rapid Equipping Force, which works more broadly with forward-deployed units.

As Secretary of the Army, Fanning will head the board of directors while Doug Wiltsie, the Office’s director, leads daily operations. Wiltsie has an extensive background leading systems engineering operations for the Army. The office plans to collaborate with prominent warfighters throughout the prototyping process.

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Uniform Changes Cost the Military Hundreds of Millions


Written by W. L. Gore & Associates

The Navy’s current phase-out of its Type I uniform, know as “aquaflage,” marks the latest in a series of costly outfit redesigns and modifications, CNN explained in a recent article.

Since 2002, the Pentagon has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on uniform upgrades and many of these didn’t last long. Replacing the Navy Working Uniform (NWU) Type I will cost roughly $180 million over a five-year period, a source told CNN.

The military previously relied on two uniforms, but after 9/11 branches began opting for distinct service cammies. This led to the development of seven unique uniforms in different patterns and colors. The new uniforms were designed to meet specific tactical requirements, boost morale, and help with recruiting.

The list of scrapped styles includes the green-and-gray Universal Camouflage Pattern, introduced to the Army in 2005 and replaced by the MultiCam Uniform in 2010. A 2012 Government Accountability Report later revealed the Universal Camouflage, which cost $3.2 million to develop, was never properly tested for its ability to conceal the wearer. Then, in 2012, the Navy dropped the Service Dress Khaki Uniform after only six years. Footwear has changed across all services as well.

In contrast, the Marine Corps has continued to use its Combat Utility Uniform, which was developed in 2002 for only $319,000.

Congress responded to the growing expense by cutting off funding for new camouflage designs in 2014.

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Army Tests “Tropical” Uniforms in Hawaii


Written by W. L. Gore & Associates

An increase in jungle missions has prompted the Army to develop new Army Combat Uniforms, currently undergoing trials in Hawaii, Army Times reported. The news outlet recently talked with officials from Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC) about their progress on these “tropical” outfits.

For the past 18 months, the Army has enlisted thousands of soldiers to test out potential uniforms in hopes of finalizing their product by the beginning of the fiscal year 2018. The ideal suit will be lightweight, quick-drying, comfortable and durable. NSRDEC and Program Executive Office Soldier are working with the 25th Infantry Division at their jungle school in Hawaii.

Soldiers were asked to test a “stripped down” version of the ACU, which included reduced pocket, nylon patches for the knees, the elbows and the seat, reinforced seams, and buttons instead of zippers. The Army is also testing a blouse with mesh vents along the shoulders.

Boots could be left unbloused thanks to the extra mesh material added at the base of the pant leg, which protects soldiers from insects and leeches. Other components currently under evaluation include a knit yoke that absorbs sweat from the lower back and a self-cooling combat shirt. The tests used a control group outfitted in the standard flame-resistant ACUs.

The Army is also testing eight separate materials for use in the new uniforms. Most consist of nylon-cotton blends, although some contain variant fibers such as extra-durable T420HT nylon, Aramids, and Cocona polyester, a material derived from coconut husks.

The NSRDEC hasn’t completed their analysis of the lab data and qualitative feedback yet. However, the Army Times was able to speak with soldiers about their experience during the trials. A 50/50 nylon-cotton blend and a T420HT nylon blend were notable favorites.

The Army’s standard combat boots are also on the chopping block because soldiers have complained the footwear holds too much water. In response, the NSRDEC has designed and is now testing five puncture-resistant alternatives — two with thick soles and three with thin “Panama” soles. They plan to present results to the PEO Soldier next winter.

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The End of “Blueberries” Tops List of Naval Dress Code Announcements


Written by W. L. Gore & Associates

Today the Navy announced plans to discontinue it’s Working Uniform Type I, mockingly referred to as “aquaflage” and “blueberries,” Kit Up reported.

In its place, sailors will don the new NWU Type III, a forest-green camouflage developed by Naval Special Warfare Command. Sailors must transition to Type III by October 2019.

Aside from its unpopular pattern, Type I cammies weigh considerably more than its replacement.

The shift came as part of a series of apparel changes announced today by Naval officers. Beginning in 2020, Cold Weather Parkas will replace the current service dress uniform and other Naval outwear will become optional. Female chiefs can now wear men’s khaki pants without a belt and with their blouse tucked in. Women’s khaki pants should be available for purchase by the end of 2017.  Additionally, service sweatpants will soon sport a “NAVY” logo in reflective silver lettering and sailors may add select patches to their service uniforms at their commander’s discretion.

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Three Game-Changing Projects for the Textile Industry


Written by W. L. Gore & Associates

Thanks to big leaps in innovation and technology, the textile industry has sharply rebounded from its pre-recession slump. Need proof? The Department of Defence recently invested $300 million in the Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA), a nonprofit textiles innovation hub housed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Textile Insights, a trade magazine, recently published an article profiling three of the cutting-edge projects pushing the industry forward:

 

  1. Dupont’s new line of conductive ink: These fully stretchable, washable, electronic inks are manufacture-ready and work with the standard screen-printing process. The product line was presented at the recent Smart Fabric Summit, in Washington DC, by Steven Willoughby, a marketing manager with DuPont Electronics and Communications. “Within five years, smart clothes will outsell smartphones,” Willoughby predicted.

 

  1. Athletix by Globe Manufacturing Company: This “smart” firefighter suit, developed through a private-public-academic partnership, integrates a Wearable Advanced Sensor Platform (WASP) system. It collects physical data while tracking the wearer’s on-site location, allowing firefighters to stay safe while pursuing a rescue. Athletix combines a wearable base layer with Zephyr Bioharness performance monitoring technology and TRX location tracking. Clare King, president of Propel, LLC, partnered with Globe, the Army, Homeland Security, and several New England colleges to develop this project.

 

  1. Tersus Solutions “water-free” textile cleaner: This Colorado-based company found a cleansing solution that doesn’t require water. The secret is a liquid carbon dioxide, which has been converted from gas using a proprietary process that involves pressurization. Tersus has financial backing from Patagonia and recently announced their launch with a large industrial laundry operation. The new product has several implications for the textile industry: reduced pollution and energy use, better maintenance for fabrics with electronic inks, and better cleaning options for heavy-duty, water absorbing military gear, such as a ballistic vest. The prospect of waterless laundry means textile designers can consider a wider range of materials and constructions as well.

 

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