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U.S. Army Testing Personal Cooling Suits 398

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the things-that-really-are-cool dept.
DJ BenBen writes to tell us that they Army is currently testing some 500 liquid cooled vests with Humvee crews in Iraq. From the article: "The Humvees with add-on armor were fitted with air conditioners after TARDEC engineers in Warren, Mich., were given the requirement to figure out how Soldiers in armored vehicles could be kept cool under the desert sun. Some of the same engineers had designed the add-on armor kits for the M-998 and M-1025 Humvees in theater. But with the extra armor and doors closed, temperatures inside the vehicles could reportedly reach more than 130 degrees. 'It's like putting somebody in a toaster oven on low heat,' said Charlie Bussee, an engineer at TARDEC."
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U.S. Army Testing Personal Cooling Suits

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  • by StefanJ (88986) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @08:26PM (#14304897) Homepage Journal
    I was a little nipper when the Space Race was in full swing.

    In the early '70s, Popular Science ran an article by a stuff writer who tried out one of the water-cooled undergarments worn by astronauts during "EVA."

    The garment was resembled full-length underwear, laced with yards and yards of plastic tubing. The cooling source was a bag of ice worn on the hip. Kind of like a fanny pack.

    The writer put on the suit, dressed normally, and went for a walk around Manhattan on a stinking hot day. One of the few details I remember: A picture of him loading up the ice bag at a bar.
  • Re:Holy Pork Fatman! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Scutter (18425) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @08:31PM (#14304952) Journal
    And exactly why would you ask scientists and engineers in MICHIGAN to test the effect of a DESERT environment?

    Err...because that's where the automotive engineers are? You do know that the Big Three are based in Detroit, right? And don't forget, Warren used to be home of the 900,000 sq. ft. Warren Tank Plant. General Dynamics Land Systems Division, as well as many other military contractors, are still based there, too.

    Side note: We used to have to use bicycles to get around that place. It was HUGE!
  • Re:Below ambient? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @08:53PM (#14305116)
    RTFA much? The suits plug into the Humvee's AC system. Y'know, with a compressor and a heat exchanger and all that.
  • i don't know (Score:5, Informative)

    by xo0bob0ox (600085) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @08:55PM (#14305133) Homepage
    I don't know if this is such a good idea..when I was in Afghanistan we often were in humvees and they were already crammed as it is. I think anything like this would just add to the chaos that is inside the humvee. Although it is a step in the right direction It just dosn't seem smart. Its hard to get out of a humvee when you plan to, and I can't imagine how bad this might add to any reaction to contact or IED. The Ac in humvees right now is not too bad, its just the fact that it overheats the engine and you end up having to shut it off is what sucks. Then again, its always cool up top on the turret...
  • Military Development (Score:5, Informative)

    by clark625 (308380) <clark625@@@yahoo...com> on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @09:19PM (#14305293) Homepage
    Okay, yes, a coolsuit isn't news for some. What I take issue with is that you seem to have taken the same, unfortunate belief that so many smart people fall into. Military development isn't cheap, and because all the exact details are rarely given out to the public, it's assumed to be mostly waste. While this may be true in some cases, it's not the norm. Believe it or not, the Army does have a limited budget and actually cares about researching many areas simultaneously; thus they do care about waste.

    Anyway, there's always a difference between a commercial technology and a military one. Take this suit for example. How many times do you think racecar drivers get shot at while in their cars? If a bullet penetrates through, what will the results be? If there is fluid leakage, will it harm internal tissue or poison the blood stream, or is it so cold that muscles will tense up? If there are wires (and there are), could those short out and cause electrical damage to the wearer? If the system becomes non-functioning, what could happen that would prevent the wearer from continuing the mission? Lastly, what do the soldiers that will be issued this device think about it? You know, the guys that have been there, and will be going back? Yep, the Army gets everyone's input (even privates), and that's a huge benefit mostly unique to our military.

    As someone that's in the Army, I can tell you that we don't get issued ANYTHING unless the leadership is confident that it will benefit our mission. That's not a bad thing.

  • Big Deal (Score:3, Informative)

    by ndansmith (582590) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @09:30PM (#14305377)
    Nike Developed already these for the University of Oregon football team:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oregon_Ducks#Relation ship_with_Nike [wikipedia.org]
    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2003/football/nca a/08/26/bc.fbc.missst.nike.ap/ [cnn.com]
    http://www.fanblogs.com/pac10/004233.php [fanblogs.com]

    Some sources say that they use some sort of liquid coolant, which can also be heated, while others say compressed air is used. Still, the point is that the Ducks are better equipped than the Army.

  • Re:Holy Pork Fatman! (Score:1, Informative)

    by everettpf3 (880595) <everett3@gm a i l . com> on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @09:38PM (#14305430) Journal
    If you read the article you would know that there is an A/C system instaalled, but due to teh extra armour and iraq's weather it isnt enough.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @09:50PM (#14305494)
    As someone that's in the Army, I can tell you that we don't get issued ANYTHING unless the leadership is confident that it will benefit our mission.

    Sometimes that confidence is not just enough [wikipedia.org].
  • by agingell (931397) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @09:55PM (#14305519) Homepage
    I hate to say it but NASA did not spend any money on the space pen, both American and Russian space programs used grease pencils until the 'space pen' was produced.

    A chap called Paul C. Fisher of the Fisher Pen Co. invested about 1million USD to develop the ball point with presurised ink at no cost to the USA / NASA.

    Approx 400 pens were sold to NASA at 6USD each for the Apollo program, and they were also sold to the Russians fo r the Soyuz program.

    The Fisher Pen Co. still makes and sells them.
  • by jafac (1449) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @10:45PM (#14305831) Homepage
    it's assumed to be mostly waste.

    You misspelled "graft".

    I can tell you that we don't get issued ANYTHING unless the leadership is confident that it will benefit our mission.

    I suggest you study the history of the procurement of the Beretta 9mm pistol, replacement for the old .45 auto. Pay careful attention to the bits about known problems with metal fatigue, and slide recoil injuring shooters.
  • by still cynical (17020) on Tuesday December 20, 2005 @11:37PM (#14306169) Homepage
    I suggest you study the history of the procurement of the Beretta 9mm pistol, replacement for the old .45 auto. Pay careful attention to the bits about known problems with metal fatigue, and slide recoil injuring shooters.


    If you mean the incidents that gave rise to the saying "You're not really a SEAL until you've eaten Italian steel", the problems were not with the pistol or the procurement system. The real problem was forcing the standard sidearm onto special ops units.

    The standard military sidearm has NEVER been intended for anything other than last-resort defensive use, or low-risk missions such as police, low-security guards, etc. Spec-ops guys such as SEALs, Special Forces, etc. need a pistol for primary and offensive use as well. The only way to do that (semi)effectively with a 9mm is to use ammo loaded to much higher pressures and velocities. The incidents you refer to were confined to Navy units using custom ammo loaded WAY past SAAMI specs, beyond what is usually called "+P+". Notice that it was never a wide-spread problem, and has not been known to recur since spec-ops were given more latitude to select and procure non-standard sidearms. The big H&K "offensive" pistol is designed specifically for the requirements of spec-ops, and to handle +P .45 ammo. I personally think it's not the best out there, but for very different reasons. Other special units are using .45s also, like the new 1911 designed for USMC Force Recon.

    So don't blame military waste, blame the penny-pinchers who oversee the military from nice civilian offices and have no idea what the complexities and realities are.
  • by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot.kadinNO@SPAMxoxy.net> on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @01:53AM (#14306790) Homepage Journal
    The flak jacket itself will not stop a rifle round (I'm not entirely sure about a handgun round), however when worn with a "trauma plate" it will. The plates are steel -- or more recently, some sort of ceramic 'Chobham' composite -- inserts that fit into pockets over the center of the chest and back. The steel ones at least are no fun at all, they're very heavy and I doubt that most guys who aren't really expecting to get shot at wear them. The ceramic ones I've heard are a big improvement but I don't know how widely distributed they are, or what people think of them.

    The kevlar helmet is supposedly able to stop a 7.62mm rifle round, although I'm not sure at exactly what distance. It does not stop the 5.56mm round fired by the M-16. In fact the ammunition in the M-16 was designed specifically to penetrate the kevlar, among other things (it has a steel core as opposed to the older solid lead bullets).
  • For the misinformed (Score:4, Informative)

    by EnigmaticSource (649695) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @04:37AM (#14307259) Homepage
    Flack != Bullet-proof;

    A bullet proof jacket is normally made exclusively from layered fabric with an optional flack plate (modern use, older bullet-proof armor was made from solid plate).

    A flack jacket will indeed stop a 7.62 NATO (AK-47) round, as well as a .223 caliber (M16) because, it is made around articulated ceramic/steel plates with a touch of Kevlar fabric to hold it together. My Korean war era flack vests are rated to stop a .50 caliber [from ~100 meters] round (although those are steel), and my lighter composite vests from Vietnam are rated for close range 7.62 NATO (and I'm sure current generation vests are better).

    As for the .223 caliber rounds, they are not steel cored, although the soviet 7.62 NATO rounds were... the reason they penetrate armor so well is their profile, a 53 grain .223 caliber bullet (about the weight of a hollow point 9mm) is long and skinny like a javelin with the impact surface remarkably similar to a .22 caliber round (squirrel/small game munitions). The Small striking surface increases the pressure exerted per square inch creating a higher probability of penetration (fun experiment, buy a Kevlar vest and see if it stops a sharp knife [no, not while it's on someone of course]).
  • by MoreNoiseThanSignal (916548) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @11:34AM (#14309226) Homepage
    uh, for the misinformed:
    7.62 NATO == .308 winchester == 7.62x51 != 7.62x39 (the AK round)
    http://kalashnikov.guns.ru/models/ka50.html [kalashnikov.guns.ru]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/7.62_x_51_mm [wikipedia.org]

    I'm pretty sure the Soviets were not a part of NATO (being a Warsaw Pact nation) when the 7.62 round was developed, hence they wouldn't adopt it as standard issue. 7.62x39 is much more akin to a 5.56 NATO/.223 round because of the shorter length of the cartridge.

    You sound like you know enough about this stuff that you should know the difference.
  • by TheVision (223174) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @11:50AM (#14309383) Homepage
    ... 7.62 NATO (AK-47) round ...

        7.62 NATO (7.62x51) != 7.62 Russian (7.62x39). Why would a Warsaw Pact country use NATO ammunition?

    My Korean war era flack vests are rated to stop a .50 caliber [from ~100 meters] round ...

        I don't know where to start with this one. A flak jacket is designed to stop (relatively slow-moving) fragments from grenades and bombs, not bullets. A .50 BMG round will easily penetrate 1" of concrete at 1,640 yards, and the Raufoss round will penetrate 1" of armor at 2,000 yards.

    As for the .223 caliber rounds, they are not steel cored ... a 53 grain .223 caliber bullet

        First, it's 62 grains, and secondly, it has a steel penetrator. Look up 'M855'.
  • by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot.kadinNO@SPAMxoxy.net> on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @01:30PM (#14310282) Homepage Journal
    I'm sorry, but I have to call you out on this.

    I don't know what kind of "flack jacket" you're talking about that's comprised of "rticulated ceramic/steel plates with a touch of Kevlar fabric to hold it together" but it's nothing that I've ever seen. And a flak jacket from the Korean war, that was rated to stop a .50 BMG? That's ridiculous. There isn't any type of personal body armor that will stop a 50-cal, even today (unless you consider an armored vehicle a form of personal body armor).

    I'll refer you over to the Body Armor [globalsecurity.org] page at Globalsecurity.org. "The [pre-Interceptor] "flak jacket," constructed of ballistic nylon, provided protection primarily from munitions fragments and was ineffective against most pistol and rifle threats. These vests also were very cumbersome and bulky and were restricted primarily to military use." This adequately describes the vests used up through Vietnam and which were even issued during the onset of the current war in Iraq. On the Interceptor [globalsecurity.org] system, which is current issue, "The outer tactical vest consists of a Kevlar weave that's very fine and will stop 9mm pistol rounds. Webbing on the front and back of the vest permits attaching such equipment as grenades, walkie-talkies and pistols. The Small Arms Protective Insert (SAPI) is made of a boron carbide ceramic with a spectra shield backing that's an extremely hard material. It stops, shatters and catches any fragments up to a 7.62 mm round with a muzzle velocity of 2,750 feet per second."

    The old, Vietnam-era vest would not stop a 7.62mm rifle round. Whether it would stop a 9mm handgun round I'm not sure, but there are plenty of reports of guys being killed by being shot through the flak vest. It was never intended to stop aimed rifle fire. And it certainly wasn't made from hinged solid plate! Here's a page [demon.co.uk] with a photo. It was made primarily of nylon.

    That the new armor system -- with plates -- can reliably stop rifle rounds is a big deal. It was not true before; I do not believe there was a personal armoring system available to the average troops in any war before this one, that would stop bullets. The WWII, Korea, and Vietnam "flak jackets" were exactly that -- to stop flak, that is, fragments produced by things exploding.

    You are also mistaken about the 5.56mm round. It does too have a steel penetrator. Nonwithstanding my personal experience (fire one through several layers of 1/4" mild steel plate separated by a few inches and you can see the copper jacket and lead surround strip off, and the steel core continue), there are an abundance of references on the net. The current issue is called the M885 Ball round, it is a 62 grain bullet with a full copper jacket and lead surrounding a cylindrical steel core. It's commonly referred to as "Green tip" because the tips of the bullets are painted green to differentiate them from the older, solid-lead M193 round, which has no coloring on the tips.

    You can get quite an argument going with people familiar with terminal ballistics by asking about whether the wound profile of the new M855 bullets (they're quite a bit messier than the old solid lead ones) are due to the bullets 'tumbling,' or breaking apart on impact, but it's quite well known that they have a steel penetrator, and that this was introduced principally to defeat new types of body armor. The Russians have a comparable cartridge, for similar reasons. (Best reference: http://matrix.dumpshock.com/raygun/basics/pmrb.htm l [dumpshock.com])

    Also read:
    http://www.geocities.com/odjobman/r1r42.htm [geocities.com]
    http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/lib [globalsecurity.org]
  • by monkeydo (173558) on Wednesday December 21, 2005 @01:35PM (#14310322) Homepage
    As for the .223 caliber rounds, they are not steel cored, although the soviet 7.62 NATO rounds were... the reason they penetrate armor so well is their profile, a 53 grain .223 caliber bullet (about the weight of a hollow point 9mm)

    A 9mm bullet weighs double that. While you might find some specialty 9mm ammo in the 95-100gr range, most commercial hollowpoints are 115-147gr.

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