DTRA program seeks new standards to fight biological, chemical threats

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) is seeking to set new standards to meet emerging and established chemical and biological threats.

The current standard for coatings used on military aircraft, tanks and transport vehicles promotes durability, stealth and performance. When it comes to biological and chemical agents, however, the coatings can soak up the threats and potentially expose warfighters to hazards.

Revell Phillips, the manager for the DTRA Chemical and Biological Technologies Department (CB) Coatings Program at Ft. Belvoir, Va., recently gathered approximately 40 to 50 academic, industry and government representatives to discuss what the new standards should be.

"Although our current crops of coating materials meet the current criteria, we feel that a new standard needs to be established," Phillips said. "(The coatings colloquium) gave us a great opportunity to brainstorm and collaborate to come up with real-world solutions."

Many standards for the DoD's Chemical Agent Resistant Coatings (CARC) for tactical vehicles have remained the same for the past 40 years. Phillips said his research could help the DoD to implement incremental changes to the standard within the next year.

DTRA CB conducts several programs, including the Hazard Mitigation, Material, and Equipment Restoration (HaMMER) Advanced Technology Demonstration (ATD); the development of nanocomposite coatings; and the development of omniphobic fluid repellent coatings, to protect warfighters from certain biological and chemical threats.

"We believe that through these research efforts and the evolution of the agent resistance standard in collaboration with industry will help us get to coatings that are more easily and completely decontaminated, protecting warfighters faster, better and sooner," Phillips said.