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Towards the design of an integrated protection system for the combat soldier

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Author: Jager, H. · Schrijer, G. · Wegdam, F. · Houwelingen, T. van · Bree, J.L.M.J. van · Verhagen, T.L. · Reffeltrath, P. · Reulink, H.
Institution: TNO Technische Menskunde TNO Prins Maurits Laboratorium
Source:Bree, J.L.M.J. van, Proceedings Personal Armour System Symposium (PASS), Kijkduin, Netherlands, 6-10 september 2004, 401-412
Identifier: 13234
Keywords: Clothing Defence · Safety · Protection · Military · Survivability · Performance · Ballistic protection


This presentation describes the concept for a clothing system that is under development in the framework of the Netherlands Soldier Modernisation Programme. Changes in the operational profile of the Netherlands combat soldier prompted the development of a new clothing system. The main objective is to provide an optimum balance between the threats considered to be relevant for the Netherlands dismounted soldier and hindrance in terms of thermal load, weight, size, and limitations in movement. In the definition phase of the project the various types of threats (ballistic, mechanical threat, NBC, fire and flames) were ranked into three scenarios: low, medium and high thre at. Similarly, three levels of protection were defined (low, medium or high). These protection levels are achieved by different combinations out of a total of six components. This resulted in two different sets of clothing: a basic uniform and a combat uniform. For example: in a medium threat scenario, the soldier will wear vapour protective underwear and a combat overall containing a water vapour permeable membrane, to provide protection against biological and chemical agents. In the current demonstrator the ballistic protection is integrated into the modular combat vest. Research into the optimum distribution of ballistic protection over the body has indicated that the survivability of the soldier increases when he is fitted with a default protection to which protection can be added at the most vulnerable parts of the body. In this concept there is no differentiation with regard to climate. Therefore, active ventilation underneath the suit is necessary to ensure the thermal comfort of this clothing system in more extreme conditions. A comparison with the heat stress perceived in a state of the art NBC ensemble showed that this solution is feasible but needs to be improved with regard to the distribution of the air flow over the body. It is concluded that integration of the various types of protection in a limited number of items is possible and appears to have important advantages with regard to the overall level of protection at any given point of time. At the same time further improvements in protective materials especially the integration of more functionalities in a single material are necessary. The knowledge on the interactions between the different functions needs to be increased. Simulation-based-development/ assessment/requirement is needed to support the complex formulation of the system requirements (topdown), as well as evaluating alternative designs up to the level of the individual person or team (bottom-up).