Army upgrades biological weapon gear

The U.S. Army’s 2nd Combat Aviation “Talon” Brigade recently became the first army unit equipped with the new Joint Protective Aircrew Ensemble chemical and biological weapon gear.

Protection from chemical and biological weapons remains a constant threat around the globe, but due to the rising threat level in the Korean peninsula, army commanders believe the unit is a good choice to receive the new equipment.

"The 2nd Infantry Division and specifically 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade were chosen to be the first to don the new equipment from a priority list at the Department of the Army-level that considers the magnitude of the chemical threat from the surrounding environment," David Weems, the 2nd Infantry force modernization officer, said. "The equipment substantially improves 2nd ID's ability to 'fight tonight' because we are using equipment right now that is recommended for aviation crews. While the suit is not technically a deterrent, it still remains valuable for us as an enabler, providing the ability to fight in a contaminated environment four hours longer than the previous suits so that no matter what the enemy throws at us, we are ready to fight."

The suit is considered to be an improvement to its predecessor, the Modified Protective Chemical Undergarment, and includes several upgrades, including an increase in the length of time it can be worn.

"The design of this suit is different from the previous protective gear because it is one piece and has an inner leg and cuff, which interfaces with their current chemical boots and gloves," Gary Weathers, one of the suit's developers, said. "The one piece improves upon the former design in that it allows pilots and aircrew to operate in limited space without worry of snagging the equipment and thereby rendering it useless. The other major improvement from the old equipment is these suits are flame resistant, which is almost a necessity for aircrew members."